Brian McClendon, a former Google and Uber executive, is launching a campaign to become the next Secretary of State in Kansas, his home. For the last three decades, McClendon has been associated with some of the highest profile tech giants in Silicon Valley. He helped create Google Earth while working with Google as a Vice President of Engineering for 11 years. Most recently, he was the Vice President of Uber. Currently, he works as a research professor at the University of Kansas advising startups, where he also received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1986.
“I reached a tipping point in November 2016,” he says by phone. “I decided I was going to move back and combine my desire to move home and make a change in Kansas.”
McClendon, 53, is a native of Lawrence, Kansas. He filed all the related paperwork on Monday to run as a Democrat for Secretary of State in the 2018 election.
“When I came back to Kansas, a lot of people told me voter registration was a challenge here, and so in spending some time looking at the problem, that was very true,” McClendon said in an interview. “There are challenges in the area. And I got inspired because I realized the Secretary of State’s office is actually responsible for making voter registration easier and getting more civic engagement, and that’s not happening right now.”
McClendon will be competing against Senator Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, in a Democratic primary, as well as Lucy Steyer, a seventeen-year-old high school student from Lenexa who has also filed he paperwork to join the race for Secretary of State. McClendon’s main points for this election is his focus on technology-related issues. He wants to bring technology to the Secretary of State’s office, from corporate fillings to elections, and he has concerns regarding the current laws that say people are required to show proof of U.S citizenship to register and vote.
“I think that only citizens should vote, but a lot of states are able to check for citizenship using their own systems,” McClendon said. “So, a technological solution would make voter registration much easier because it wouldn’t put the onus on the citizen to go find their birth certificate, sometimes in other states, which costs a lot of money and delays the completion. Other states don’t have this problem.”