Elect independent lawmakers to Kansas House
The Kansas City Star
If ever smart, independent lawmakers were needed in the Kansas House, it is now.
The ill-advised income tax cuts passed last year by the Legislature’s Republican majority and signed by Gov. Sam Brownback are projected to create a deep financial hole that will harm schools, families and the state’s infrastructure.
Legislators must be willing to question a tax policy that gives breaks to wealthy Kansans while forcing communities to consider property tax increases or more cuts in services. They must be able to speak up for Kansas’ tradition of strong schools and liveable neighborhoods.
Following are The Star’s recommendations for contested House seats in Johnson and Wyandotte counties.
Advance voting in Kansas starts Wednesday:
District 14: Democrat Roberta A. Eveslage, a psychologist and long-time Johnson County Community College professor from Lenexa, is the pick over Keith Esau of Olathe. She would hold the line on further service-starving tax cuts, while Esau favors more income tax reductions.
District 17: Larry Meeker of Lake Quivira is running as an independent after the Secretary of State’s office lost his filing form and denied him a spot on the Democratic ticket. Meeker’s support for schools and families and his experience as a retired vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City make him a clear choice over Republican Brett M. Hildabrand, a House member who moved into the district to run for the open seat, and Libertarian Michael Kerner.
District 18: Democrat Milack Talia, of Shawnee, demonstrated in a previous term in the Legislature that he will stand up for schools and vulnerable citizens. His Republican opponent, John Rubin, supported Brownback’s income tax cuts and has disputed the notion that Kansas underfunds its schools.
District 19: Stephanie Clayton’s many community ties enabled the moderate Republican from Overland Park to shake off a more conservative challenger in the primary. She’s an active school parent, frequently seen at school board and City Council meetings. Democrat Zach Luea is a promising candidate, but Clayton deserves a seat in the Legislature.
District 21: Incumbent Republican Barbara Bollier, of Mission Hills, has been a refreshing voice in favor of family planning and women’s reproductive health, as well as for properly funded schools. Bollier, a retired anesthesiologist, is the pick over Democrat Amy Bell.
District 22: Democrat Nancy Lusk, a professional illustrator from Overland Park, worked her way up in Shawnee Mission PTAs and eventually served as vice president of advocacy for the Kansas PTA. She is thoroughly familiar with the needs of schools and what it will take to meet those needs. Her Republican opponent, Marla Brems, advocates finding more “efficiencies” as the answer to school funding woes — as though districts haven’t been doing that for years.
District 23: Republican incumbent Kelly R. Meigs worked hard in her first term to deny rights to women seeking abortions and children of undocumented immigrants who wish to attend college at in-state rates. A much better choice for this Lenexa disrict is Democrat Dave Pack, a pharmaceutical statistician and manager. He opposes the Brownback income tax cuts, which Meigs supported.
District 24: Democrat Emily Perry, a recent law school graduate, has made better funding for schools her main campaign issue. A resident of northern Overland Park, she has broad volunteer experience and spells out thoughtful positions. She is the choice over Republican Christopher Kenneth Waldschmidt.
District 25: Republican Melissa A. Rooker gave up her job as director of development of Clint Eastwood’s Malpaso Productions to move home to Fairway and raise a family. She gained invaluable experience to serve in the Legislature as a board member and legislative liaison for the Shawnee Mission Area Council PTA, and a member of the Kansas PTA Advocacy Team.
Rooker’s Democratic opponent is Megan England, a member of the Roeland Park City Council. They take similar positions on many issues, but Rooker’s experience with school issues makes her the top choice.
District 28: Kelly L. Jackson of Leawood, a lawyer and former Army bomb squad commander, is a dynamic candidate on the Democratic ticket. Her service on the Leawood Planning Commission and with other community groups, as well as her law work in mediation, would be assets in the Legislature. Republican Jerry Lunn, a management consultant and property owner, has indicated he favors even more draconian tax reductions.
District 29: Republican James Todd of Overland Park would clearly align himself with the Legislature’s conservative faction. But the 2009 law school graduate has a diverse and interesting background, including helping to found a church in Kansas City, Kan., and he articulates thoughtful positions on issues. His Democratic opponent, Nancy Leiker, is not leaving much of a campaign footprint.
District 30: Democrat Liz Dickinson, a student and photographer from Lenexa, got into this race in part because she was angry about incumbent Lance Kinzer’s dogged attempts to curtail the rights of women and abortion providers in Kansas. We applaud her conviction. Kinzer is a heavy favorite for a fifth term, but Dickinson presents a refreshing choice.
District 31: Incumbent Louis Ruiz is a reliable vote for school funding and a fairer tax structure. The Democrat from Kansas City, Kan., is the choice over Republican Tim Kelb.
District 33: Incumbent Tom Burroughs is the assistant House Democratic leader and serves on several key commitees, bringing a measure of clout to his Wyandotte County district. He deserves re-election. His opponent is Republican Tony Bukaty.
District 36: Democrat Kathy Wolfe Moore, business director at the University of Kansas Hospital, has been a hard-working and effective legislator in her freshman term. She is able to work across the aisle on some issues, while providing good service to her Kansas City, Kan., constituents. She is the choice over Republican Shawn A. Shipp and Libertarian Jeff Caldwell.
District 38: Democrat Pete Henderson, a businessman and former teacher, understands that extreme tax-cutting policies and cuts to education have harmed the state’s families and future. Henderson, of Basehor, would be a strong, articulate voice in the House and is the choice over Republican Willie Dove.
District 39: Marlys Shulda’s nine years with Johnson County Community Corrections gives the Democrat from Shawnee an important perspective to bring to the House. Shulda will support adequate funding for schools and services and deserves election over Republican Charles Macheers.
District 43: Kevin King, of Gardner, who is retired as a business analyst for Sprint, appears to be a strong, informed voice on budget and other issues. The Democrat is the choice over Bill Sutton.
District 49: Keith Mace of Olathe brings strong credentials as a General Services Administration manager and information technology expert to the Democratic ticket. He would be a much more supportive voice for schools and his community than Republican incumbent Scott Schwab or Libertarian John Wilson.
District 121: Republican Arlen H. Siegfreid of Olathe is a firm fiscal and social conservative, but a good listener who stuck his neck out this year by proposing that long-term care services for developmentally disabled Kansans not be handed off to managed care providers, at least right away. He is the choice over Democrat Tyler Dixon.