Rep. Gail Finney and Ford Carr

Ford Carr has a long history of working as an activist and advocate in his native Wichita.

Now he’s set to serve in the Kansas Legislature, filling Rep. Gail Finney’s seat in the 84th district. 

Finney announced in June that she was supporting Carr to fill her seat, citing personal reasons for not running again.

Also a Democrat, Carr has no challengers in the primary or general elections. 

“I was asked if I would be interested in seeking this office, and it was just simply based on my history and track record for being an advocate and an activist,” he said.

Carr is a graduate of Wichita East High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business quality management and a master’s in leadership from Southwestern College. 

He’s worked in the aircraft industry since 1996.

“I was hired in on the floor, and I was a manager in less than a year with the Boeing Company,” Carr said. “I’ve done a lot of things in aircraft.”

An aeronautical engineer, Carr works as an independent contractor for Spirit AeroSystems at Wichita State University.

He’s always been interested in social equality and providing a space for people of color to collaborate.

Carr is the founder of Us Doing Us, a nonprofit group that has organized Thanksgiving meals, toy giveaways and Sunday get-togethers. Us Doing Us started about eight years ago. It gained 501(c)(3) status two years ago, Carr said. Carr said he and two members of Us Doing Us provide most of the toys for the giveaways. 

Carr worked with the Kansas Leadership Center and Sedgwick County Health Department, he said, to raise awareness about COVID-19, providing information, personal protective equipment and vaccinations for urban communities.

Us Doing Us puts on a community-building event at 5 p.m. every Sunday in the summer open to “anyone that grew up in Wichita in the African-American community.” The group meets at Central Riverside Park facing Stackman Drive.

This year, the event started Memorial Day weekend and will run for 18 weeks until football season begins.

As a legislator, Carr said he is interested in moving the needle on issues such as prison reform and foster care.

“I want to make change, and I want to do it in a lasting fashion,” he said. “The only way I can do it in a lasting fashion is to change the laws that affect us most.”

Carr expressed concerns about “legalized slavery” using prison inmates for labor.

“I want to help make Kansas one of the first places that abolishes that system. That runs deep,” Carr said.

The Kansas foster care system, he said, is in “horrid condition.”

Carr also is interested in helping make sure that people vote.

“There is a major misunderstanding, a lack of knowledge of what actually takes place in the political process beginning with voting. I want to educate the many people who don’t understand why their vote counts, particularly in the underserved communities,” he said.

Asked who he might emulate as a legislator, Carr paused and said “I can’t tell you that I’m going to be like anyone because I’m not like anyone.”

Carr, who is single with two daughters, enjoys hunting and fishing. He played football and has taught martial arts and enjoys building things — particularly electronics. 

“I’m somewhat of a nerd,” he said, laughing.

By Deb Gruver | The Community Voice