Parties to choose candidates for Lyons’ state Senate seat
At the center of discussion Monday night for six candidates campaigning for the Third District seat in the Kansas Senate were issues at the core of each party affiliation.
For Democrats Jan Justice of Basehor and Ed Sass of Easton, debate centered on shortfalls in public education and rectifying perceived shortcomings in school finance.
The four Republicans -- Richard Rodewald, Eudora; Roger Pine, who lives west of Linwood; Connie O'Brien, Tonganoxie; and Chuck Quinn, Perry -- discussed education as well, but most notably taxes and legislation on the right to carry and conceal firearms.
All the candidates for the Senate district, which includes all of Jefferson County and parts of Leavenworth and Douglas counties, were on-hand Monday night for a public forum at the Riverfront Community Center in Leavenworth.
Next week, during Tuesday's primary election, one candidate from each party will emerge and move on to the general election Nov. 2.
One of the six candidates will replace incumbent state Sen. Bob Lyon, R-Winchester, who is not seeking a second term.
The topics of discussion Monday night were steered by questions handpicked by the forum's moderator.
The questions were different for candidates, depending on their political party.
Following is information about each candidate and a recap of issues discussed during Monday night's forum.
Candidates are listed by their party affiliation and in alphabetical order.
Justice's platform centers on providing fair and adequate funding for all Kansas students, creating more jobs and fighting for the security and healthcare rights of senior citizens.
Justice said she supports Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' education initiatives and would like to hold taxes steady. She would, however, support a small tax increase if "it's good for our whole district." She added that money earmarked for schools must not "go toward administration but into the classroom."
"It's not what are my issues, it's what are your issues," she said. "It's what do you need."
Her campaign and, if elected, her tenure as senator, would allow the "voice of the ordinary Kansan to be heard in Topeka." She encouraged those at the ballot box next week to "send a big message and a little Justice to Topeka."
Sass stopped short of supporting the governor's education plan but said he did support overhauls to the public school system and how it's funded by the state. He also questioned the Kansas Legislature's commitment to education.
"It kind of appalls me the Kansas Legislature went home when Judge Bullock (Shawnee County District Court Judge Terry Bullock) ordered them to finish school funding," Sass said, referring to the judge's ruling that the current school-funding model is unequal and unconstitutional.
He said his idea of economic development is providing the school system with as much funding as possible.
"Our schools are economic development," he said. "If you have good schools, people come to your district."
O'Brien said her platform is simple -- she's pro-education, pro-woman and pro-life.
She said she would support an amendment banning gay marriage and would vote in favor of legislation allowing the carrying and concealing of firearms, provided the law contains a provision requiring safety training.
"I have six daughters and would like to see them protected also," O'Brien said.
O'Brien, a fiscal conservative, said she supports job creation, not taxation. Also, high taxes are "oppressive," and counter-productive to the interests of businesses, families, workers, farmers or efficient government.
Education also plays a prominent role in her platform. O'Brien said rolling back state mandates imposed on school districts would free up more money for school districts to use for teacher salaries, special education and classroom resources.
Roger C. Pine
Pine said he holds two issues -- education and economic development -- most important during this election.
"Certainly most of us are not satisfied with how the (Kansas legislative) session ended up," said Pine, adding that he would be in favor of a top to bottom review of the model for school funding.
Pine said his service as state senator would encourage the continued development of business as well as efforts to recruit new businesses to areas within the Third District.
Pine said he would support carry and conceal legislation.
Asking Quinn whether he's in favor of raising taxes is a silly notion. "Raising taxes, I think, is a ridiculous notion," he said.
Quinn doesn't believe in property taxes and said as senator he would research other ways for the government to generate revenue in hopes of eliminating them. "I don't know that anybody's ever tried it," Quinn said. "I'd like to try."
He proposed eliminating property taxes in lieu of either a product or import tax, which he said would be a more equal solution.
"They're just not very creative in Topeka, and I just want to lend a fresh voice," Quinn said.
Quinn also supports carry and conceal laws.
"If a person is a law-abiding citizen, why should you restrict their rights?" he said.
Rodewald said his family has a background in education so he knows how important it is for students and to the state and country. However, Rodewald said he wants to see changes to the public school system.
"(President George W.) Bush says No Child Left Behind, I say no child held back," Rodewald said.
He said a classroom of 20 students generates approximately $180,000 in funding. He said schools are mismanaging the money available to them.
"That's a lot of money and I want to know where it's going," Rodewald said.
"We need to consolidate some schools and we've got some administrators making way too much money."
He supports carry and conceal laws if the owner has a clean criminal record and has taken training and safety courses. He said his experience with tax issues and following the dealings of the Legislature make him an ideal candidate for senator.
"This is a time we need experienced people in office," he said.