Archive for Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Candidates voice opinions

October 27, 2004

Candidates aired their views to a crowd of about 75 at Tonganoxie's Veterans of Foreign Wars post home Thursday night.

Roger Pine, R-Lawrence, and Jan Justice, D-Bonner Springs, started off the evening's talks.

Pine, who grows crops and sod turf grass, said economic development is key to the future of Kansas, and to this area.

"I believe we have to have a better environment than we have for small businesses and for industries and farmers to grow and prosper," Pine said. "... We need to have an environment for new businesses to look at Kansas and be attracted."

Young people tend to look out of state for jobs, Pine said.

"Our young people after they get an education they go some place else and I think we need to keep these people in Kansas," Pine said. "Economic development is the way to do that."

And, Pine said, legislators have a fiscal responsibility.

"It's key to stretch those dollars that we do receive at the state level as much as we can," Pine added.

Justice's views

Jan Justice, who has a background in upper managerial work, said: "It's time for the voice of common people and hard working Kansans to be heard."

Justice said people have to have enough money for the essentials -- food and health care. She used anecdotes from people she's met, talking about Henry, "who goes to bed hungry at night," and Jennifer, "who has no access to health care."

This is not what Kansas is meant to be, Justice said.

"We have to stop being reactive," Justice said, "We have to be proactive government."

She said it's important to teach children lifelong learning skills, to work to save businesses, especially in small towns, and to lower the cost of health care. That means helping senior citizens by reducing the cost of prescription drugs.

Justice said it's important to create jobs, and to find new sources of revenue for small farms.

"Look at ways to blend the rural and urban economy," she said.

And, she said, it's important to limit tax increases for the farmers and the elderly.

The candidates agreed on answers to some questions posed to them. For instance, when asked if they would sponsor legislation to take away college tuition assistance for undocumented immigrants, both Pine and Justice said yes.

And when asked if they were for or against the establishment of a casino near Kansas Speedway, both Pine and Justice said they thought the people who live in the area would have the opportunity to vote on it.

And Justice added, "If there is a viable income stream and if it protects small businesses, I would be supportive of that revenue system."

In response to a question about education, Justice said if elected she would make an effort to put together an education bill that will support Kansas public schools.

Pine said legislators have a responsibility to take a look at the school funding formula.

County commission candidates

Candidates for Leavenworth County Commission 3rd District seat expressed similar views.

Jerry Willburn, D-Tonganoxie, and Dean Oroke, R-Tonganoxie, said infrastructure is a major issue.

"We need sewage plants, we need water lines, we need roads," Willburn said.

And Oroke said rural roads are "the number one issue."

"The ditches are higher than the road bed," Oroke said. "We've done a poor job of maintaining a county road system."

And yet, Oroke said, it's important to hold the line on property taxes.

"We as a county need to become more efficient in the way the tax dollars are spent," Oroke said.

And as far as hiring a county administrator, Oroke said that should happen only if the position can be funded with current means.

"We will not create a position and add expenses to county operations," Oroke said. "I think we have some departments or positions within the county government that could be eliminated or consolidated."

While Willburn said he's against a proposed $14,000 road impact fee that commissioners considered earlier this year, he realizes something needs to be done.

It could be, he said, that would mean cutting back on expenses in other areas of the county government.

"I think there's money available by stopping government waste and you can't tell me there's not a whole lot of government waste up there in the county," Willburn said.

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