- Fifth-Generation Kansan, Born and Raised in Salina, Kansas
- Graduate of Salina Catholic Schools and Kansas State University
- Kansas House of Representatives, District 69 Representative 2013-2019
- Chairman, Committee on Transportation & Public Safety Budget
- Kansas Republican Party State Executive Committee Member
- Chairman of the Kansas Young Republicans
- Young Republican National Federation Campaign Committee
- Kansas Republican Party Leadership Series Class of 2011
- U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy Judge
J.R. Claeys is the State Representative for west Salina and northwest Saline County, serving the family, friends and neighbors he grew up with. J.R. was born and raised in Salina and is proud to serve the 69th District in the Kansas House of Representatives.
Keeping Kansans safe, and supporting our first responders, is J.R.'s top priority. As chairman of the Transportation and Public Safety Budget Committee, he led his committee in delivering a new pay plan and a pay raise for the Kansas Highway Patrol,
which has led to more recruits at the KHP Academy in Salina. He initiated conversations between KHP and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation that led to the creation of a new career path between the agencies. J.R. delivered a raise for corrections officers and a focus on prison reform issues with the goal of reducing recidivism statewide.
Home of Kansas State Polytechnic, Salina hosts one of the nation's premier aviation schools. J.R. created a plan to support the development of the UAS industry in Salina. He led the effort to create a UAS director position within KDOT Aviation. He has developed a plan to grow the UAS industry here in Kansas, including the creation of a UAS Research Triangle, the development of an aviation research park and UAS business incubator in Salina, and a new tax credit for Kansas engineering students to stay and make their careers in Kansas.
J.R. fought to make government more efficient and accountable, and wants to make sure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. He pushed to implement recommendations from the state efficiency study, including new procurement rules and ways to make KDOT deliver high quality transportation services in the most efficient way.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, J.R. scrutinized budgets to make sure your dollars are being spent in the best possible way and making sure that services reach those who need them the most. As a member of the Commerce, Labor and Economic Development Committee, J.R. has worked on vital job creation programs, looking for new ways to make Kansas the best state in the nation to do business. His economic development work includes partnering with the Department of Commerce to discuss ways the department can better market Kansas' business advantages to companies nationwide.
The youngest of three and a fifth-generation Kansan, J.R. Claeys was raised in a middle-class family in Salina, Kansas. It was there that his parents, Joe and Judy Claeys, instilled in him the value of hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit. Mowing lawns for the elderly on the weekends with his dad, J.R. learned the importance of service and community.
J.R.'s father, Joe Claeys, was born and raised in Axtell, Kansas where his parents owned a downtown business. His parents were ranchers in Blue Rapids, Kansas before losing their livlihood in the Great Depression. J.R's grandfather weathered the depression by working for the railroad before settling in Axtell.
J.R. tried his hand in the family trade, spending part of his summer working for Claeys Harvesting on his uncle's combines, harvesting wheat in south-central Kansas up through northeast Colorado, before heading to K-State.
J.R.'s mother, Judy, grew up in Salina, Kansas. Her father drove a dairy truck and later worked for Graves Truck Lines. J.R.'s grandfather also served in the U.S. Army in the Pacific during World War II. After raising four children, J.R.'s grandmother worked in the front office at Motor Service in Salina.
J.R.'s parents met in Salina where his mother attended Marymount College and his father started work for Western Electric before serving in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. J.R.'s father retired as a technician for AT&T in Salina, where he served for over 50 years. His mother is a first grade teacher at St. Mary's Grade School where she has taught Salina children for over 34 years.
After graduating high school in Salina J.R. attended Kansas State University where he was involved in nonprofit student media and later worked for The Manhattan Mercury, receiving several state and national awards for his work. This is where J.R. first decided to pursue work in the nonprofit sector for charities and civic organizations. After the attacks of 9/11, J.R. became a founding member of a volunteer networking organization that matched volunteers with charitable organizations seeking help.
At K-State, J.R. was recognized by the Manhattan City Council with a Community Service Award for his volunteer work with the Riley County Police Department and Crimestoppers.
After graduating from K-State, J.R. went to Washington, D.C. to work in fundraising for the Republican National Committee. He went on to earn his Master of Public Administration degree from The George Washington University School of Business, where he studied nonprofit management.
J.R. went to school at night while working as director of communications for the National Small Business Association (NSBA), a Washington, D.C. based small-business advocacy organization with over 150,000 member companies. There he advocated for reforms to encourage small business growth across America and was appointed as a U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy Judge with the Bush Administration in 2004.
J.R. also served as the director of communications for the Small Business Exporters Association and the Small Business Technology Coalition. He was the spokesman for the Coalition Supporting Equity for Our Nation's Self-Employed, a coalition of business associations supporting tax fairness for self-employed health care costs, as well as the Small Business Coalition for Equitable Health Insurance, a coalition of businesses and trade associations supporting a market-based approach to health insurance coverage.
From there, J.R. was selected as the President and CEO of the National Association of Government Contractors (NAGC), a trade association for small and midsize businesses involved in government contracting. J.R. has been an advocate for a fair and transparent procurement process and increased access to government contracts for small businesses. As president, J.R. assisted thousands of small businesses seeking work with federal, state and local government agencies. During election years he led massive Get Out The Vote campaigns to register new voters across the country, and helped get voters out to the polls on election day.
J.R. is quoted as an expert on small-business legislative issues in major publications, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune and many others. He has also appeared on national radio programs and television news channels representing small businesses throughout the country. In 2011, J.R. was selected to testify on behalf of small businesses before the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2012, J.R. testified before the House Small Business Committee Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce, representing small businesses involved in the GSA Schedule.
J.R. is a certified international elections observer, having served as a volunteer in a young democracy grappling with voter fraud issues and the implementation of Voter ID programs to secure citizen ballots.
In March 2009, J.R. worked to stop voter fraud in El Salvador's presidential elections. At his voting center a Nicaraguan was caught trying to vote illegaly, attempting to steal the vote of an eligible voter. J.R. advised the country's electoral tribunal on the changes necessary to prevent future voter fraud, helping reform the electoral process of a nation.
J.R. is also a supporter and volunteer with the Kids Voting Kansas Program, an organization that teaches kids the elections process by allowing parents to bring their school-aged children with them to the polls to learn how to vote.
Throughout 2009 and 2010, J.R. ran a strong statewide campaign for the Republican nomination for the Office of Kansas Secretary of State, falling short, while winning 34 counties and over 67,000 votes.
J.R. currently serves on the regional advisory board for the Partnership for Technology Innovation, committed to improving rural access to technology in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas.
Continuing in his commitment to promoting conservative principles, J.R. served as Chairman of the Kansas Young Republicans, and on the State Executive Committee of the Kansas Republican Party. He is also a volunteer organizer for the Republican Leadership Series, and a graduate of the innagural class in 2011.
J.R. is Salina's Representative, first elected in 2012 to the Kansas House of Representatives. Reelected in 2014 and 2016, J.R. serves as the chairman of the Committee on Transportation & Public Safety Budget, and as a member of the Committee on Commerce, Labor & Economic Development, the powerful Committee on Appropriations, and the Joint Committee on State Building Construction, in the Kansas House of Representatives.