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Students, colleagues gather to watch Jeff Colyer become Kansas governor

Fairfield High School seniors travel to Topeka every year to shadow legislators, but this year, they requested another trip to be among the hundreds who gathered Wednesday to watch Jeff Colyer become Kansas’ 47th governor.

Colyer took the oath of office at the Kansas Statehouse and succeeds Sam Brownback as Kansas governor. Brownback will be sworn in Thursday as President Donald Trump’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.

“This is an opportunity the seniors aren’t going to have again unless they do it again as adults,” said Jody Lubbers, a government teacher from Fairfield High School.

Wednesday’s crowd included a wide array of Kansans, including other students, university administrators and Colyer’s colleagues.

Tony Sun, senior medical director at United Healthcare, said he previously worked with Colyer, a plastic surgeon and wanted to support the state’s 47th governor.

“Dr. Colyer is a great leader for our state and he’s a good colleague and he is a great advocate for Kansans, especially the health and well-being of Kansans,” Sun said.

Sun said he hoped the governor would continue to be an advocate for health care in the state and work across the aisle this year. Colyer will finish the final year of Brownback’s term while he runs for governor himself.

Colyer also received support from individuals he has worked with during his time in state government. Nelson Gabriano, with the Global Orphan Project in Kansas City, said Colyer has been instrumental in helping with the program, which connects churches to families in need.

Gabriano said every day will matter because Colyer has less than a year in office unless he wins the GOP primary and general governor’s race.

“He’s got to hit the ground running. It won’t be long so he’s got to run fast,” Nelson said. “I’m hoping he can say something of substance and shift the state.”

Also in attendance were administrators from the Kansas Board of Regents Universities, including University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod. Girod said he hoped the inauguration would shed more light on Colyer’s policies, especially those relating to higher education.

“We’re obviously very excited to have a KU alumnus stepping into the governor’s office,” Girod said. “In all fairness, I don’t really know what his platform is going to be so we’re anxious to find out that and what he’s going to be focusing on over the next year that he has.”

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