Kansas House needs defenders of public schools
The Kansas City Star
Kansas’ contentious redistricting process has created an opportunity for new faces and fresh ideas in the House of Representatives.
We hope voters will take advantage of the opening and select candidates who value strong public schools and communities, and who share a commitment to look out for the most vulnerable Kansans. Future lawmakers of both parties must be willing to stand up to House leadership and Gov. Sam Brownback and defend those ideals.
The Star is recommending local candidates who we believe are independent thinkers and not inclined to vote in lockstep with the governor or according to an ultra-conservative agenda. In races where no candidate fits that mode, we will not make a recommendation. No recommendations appear in uncontested area races.
District 8: Sheryl Spalding, of Overland Park, was a Blue Valley School Board member for eight years before being elected to the Kansas House in 2007. She is a strong, knowledgeable voice for good schools and a well-educated region. She deserves to be re-elected in this newly drawn district.
Her opponent in the Republican primary is Craig McPherson of Overland Park.
District 14: Janet King brings good experience as a member of the Lenexa Planning Commission and, before that, Lenexa’s parks and recreation board. She is an active school parent and has had a career as an interior designer. King is the clear choice over Keith Esau, of Olathe, in the Republican primary.
In the Democratic primary, Roberta A. Eveslage, of Lenexa, who until recently was a professor of psychology at Johnson County Community College, is well versed on issues and has worked in public schools. Her opponent is Jessica Peters of Olathe.
District 15: Elliot Lahn, of Olathe, is the candidate in this race most likely to oppose efforts to further drain revenues from Kansas government and cut vital services. He is a planner for the city of Merriam. His opponent in the Republican primary is Robert Montgomery, of Olathe.
District 17: This race has a stellar GOP candidate in Jason Leib, a Lenexa businessman whose civic resume includes board chairman of the Lenexa Chamber of Commerce and past president of the Lenexa Rotary Club. He will be a voice for strong schools and communities. Leib’s opponent, incumbent Brett M. Hildabrand of Shawnee, has demonstrated a much less constructive agenda.
District 18: Long-time Shawnee City Councilman Neal L. Sawyer has deep roots in his community and extensive civic service credentials. He would bring a much more pragmatic voting approach to this district than his Republican primary opponent, incumbent John Rubin of Shawnee.
District 19: In a Republican primary featuring two newcomers, Stephanie Clayton, of Overland Park, stands out. A former chairwoman of the Johnson County Young Republicans, Clayton is a dynamic, well-informed candidate who would be a strong asset to the Republican ticket. Her opponent, Bruce Belanger of Leawood, brings less helpful voting positions to the race.
District 20: This district places great value in its public schools, and Republican candidate Mark Read pledges to speak up and protect funding and quality of the local districts. Read, of Overland Park, is a software technology expert and active in Shawnee Mission School District parent organizations.
His opponent, incumbent Rob Bruchman, says he supports public education. But Bruchman voted for Brownback’s draconian income tax cuts, which are anathema to strong schools. You can’t have it both ways.
District 24: Emily Perry, a recent graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law, looks to be a promising newcomer on the Democratic ticket. The Overland Park resident has been active in local fundraising and victim’s advocacy work. Vera Locke of Merriam is also on the ballot.
District 25: Since giving up a career as assistant to Clint Eastwood (seriously), Melissa A. Rooker, of Fairway, has been active in her homes association, a community soccer team and PTA groups in the Shawnee Mission schools and at the statewide level. She is a dynamic, informed candidate and the clear choice in the GOP primary.
Her opponents are Bill Griffith of Fairway and Stephen Foster of Roeland Park.
In the Democratic primary, Roeland Park City Councilwoman Megan England is an excellent choice. Her opponent is Scott Gregory, of Roeland Park.
District 26: Larry L. Campbell has served as a state representative previously, and also as mayor of Olathe, where he currently sits on the City Council. He has extensive credentials in banking and other businesses. His wide range of business and government experience makes him the choice in this Republican primary. His opponent is Charles P. (Skip) Andrews of Olathe.
District 28: Mark Hagen of Leawood, brings a strong resume as a retired Naval commander, Sprint executive and lawyer to this Republican primary. He is a clear choice over conservative candidates James Azeltine of Leawood and Jerry D. Lunn of Overland Park.
District 29: With two stints in the Kansas Legislature already under his belt, Jim Yonally, of Overland Park, is a good pick for this Republican primary. He will vote for strong schools and against the decimation of the state budget. His opponent, political newcomer James Todd of Overland Park, supports the destructive income tax cuts and appears to lack a commitment for improving school funding.
District 30: This Republican primary pits two veteran legislators against one another. Ron Worley of Lenexa is our choice over Lance Kinzer of Olathe. Unlike Kinzer, Worley voted against Brownback’s income tax cuts. He is much more likely to support schools and adequate social services. Kinzer has spent much of his legislative career fixating on ways to create barriers to legal abortion.
District 38: David R. Anderson has done a good job as mayor of De Soto. He is strong on economic development issues and is the choice in the Republican primary over Willie Dove of Bonner Springs.
District 39: Stephanie Meyer has emerged as a strong candidate in this Republican primary. A member of the Shawnee Planning Commission, she worked as press secretary for former Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh and is director of external affairs for the Kansas Bioscience Authority. That kind of expertise gives her a big edge over her opponent, Charles Macheers of Shawnee.