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Hundreds Gather for Credit Union Candidate Forum in Topeka

Ron Smeltzer (left), Envista Credit Union EVP, and Greg Winkler (right), president/CEO of Azura Credit Union, spearheaded the candidate forum. Special thanks to Keelei Hamilton (center), of Envista Credit Union, who is in her second year of coordinating the event for Topeka credit unions.
Rep. Fred Patton (R-Topeka) and Rep.-Elect Brenda Dietrich (R-Topeka) visit with Mike Bush, of Envista Credit Union.
Brad Douglas, HCUA president/CEO, and Stephanie Mullholland, HCUA Advocacy team, talk with Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka). Kelly is a member is the Senate Financial Institutions Committee.

Hundreds of credit union members packed the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Topeka for a legislative candidate forum on October 12. The event, hosted by Envista Credit Union, Azura Credit Union and HCUA, offered federal and state legislative candidates the opportunity to talk about their priorities and meet with credit union advocates from their districts in advance of the November 8 election. More than 250 credit union leaders participated.

“Credit unions were truly in the spotlight at this event, with candidates seeing firsthand just how powerful the credit union movement is in Topeka – and across the state,” said Brad Douglas, Heartland Credit Union Association (HCUA) president/CEO. “This was a tremendous grassroots effort by Azura and Envista to make the point that credit unions matter to their members … and credit union members vote.”

Candidates and credit union representatives mingled both before and after the official program, where each candidate was given three minutes to address the entire group. Topeka credit unions have hosted these candidate forums since 2004. The event is spearheaded by Ron Smeltzer, Envista Credit Union executive vice president, and Greg Winkler, Azura Credit Union president/CEO, with staff members from both credit unions serving as hosts for the candidates. HCUA helped sponsor the event.

Federal candidates participating in the forum included:

  • Patrick Wiesner (D), candidate for U.S. Senate
  • Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R), incumbent for U.S. Congress Second District
  • Britani Potter (D), candidate for U.S. Congress Second District

State legislative candidates participating included:

  • Sen. Laura Kelly (D), incumbent in Senate District 18
  • Dave Jackson (R), candidate for Senate District 18
  • Sen. Vicki Schmidt (R), incumbent in Senate District 20
  • Candace Ayars (D), candidate for Senate District 20
  • Rep. Fred Patton (R), incumbent in House District 50
  • Chris Huntsman (D), candidate for House District 50
  • Brenda Dietrich (R), candidate for House District 52
  • Rep. Jim Gartner (D), incumbent in House District 53
  • Richard Kress (R), candidate for House District 53
  • Rep. Ken Corbet (R), incumbent for House District 54
  • Ranae Hansen (D), candidate for House District 54
  • Rep. Lane Hemsley (R), incumbent for House District 56
  • Virgil Weigel (D), candidate for House District 56
  • Rep. John Alcala (D), incumbent for House District 57
  • Vic Miller (D), candidate for House District 58

View more pictures from the forum on our Facebook page