Responses are from the candidates and have not been edited.
I am currently a member of the Haysville City Council & the Chief negotiator for the Haysville Education Association. I graduated from Campus High School in 1984 and from Newman University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education in 1999. I was a member of the Special Olympics Games Management Team from 1989-2017. Haysville Planning Commission 2000 Haysville City Council Ward 3 from 2001-2010 During my time on Council I have served on Community Library Board, Recreation Committee, Finance Committee, Park Board Chair, Tree Board, and was elected to multiple terms as Council President. Haysville City Council Ward 1 from 2013-present Kansas House Representative District 98 from 2017-2018. Received an endorsement from UTW, Wichita teachers union.
I was born & raised in the Kansas House District 98 area. I am 54 years old & have been married to my wife, Paige for 24 years. We have four grown children, Tracy, Olyvia, Dawsen, Daine. I have been a teacher for 21 years & coach for 29 years in the Haysville school district.
Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:
What is your response to the Black Lives Matter movement?
Since we watched the horrific murder of Mr. Floyd, the discussion has turned to the systematic racial injustice in our society. This is a real problem in our society and I believe BLM is bringing this issue, and other types of discrimination into the light and forcing us, as a country, to look at ourselves and understand that we need to improve.
What do you think needs to be done to promote social and racial justice?
An open mind to be educated and understand our nation’s history, even the parts that are not good. Empathy for the people/groups that have faced discrimination during the early years of our nation. In addition, the will to try to change and grow as a world leader. Being able to admit mistakes and flaws shows leadership and humanity.
Are you in favor of police reform? If so, what should it look like?
Since we watched the horrific murder of Mr. Floyd, the discussion has turned to the systematic racial injustice in our society. This will likely mean sweeping changes in law enforcement and the Justice system. I will work to make sure all police officers are trained in de-escalation techniques and must complete continued-education for it over their years of service. We must stop using stereotypical beliefs in the search for justice. The personnel file of any person in law enforcement that is attempting to move locations must be open to the law enforcement agency he is applying to for employment. We must recruit more people of color into law enforcement and judgeships. We must also make it understood that good cops are expected to call out/charge/arrest the bad cops. We must work toward being a state and a nation that rightly treats all people equally.
Did you or do you support business shutdowns to control the spread of the coronavirus?
Yes I did. I believe the Governor was following, and continues to follow, the advice of medical experts and the trends in areas impacted earlier than we were here in Kansas. Kansas was doing much better than most states because of the quick, decisive, action taken by the Governor. Unfortunately, political ego got in the way and public safety took a backseat to partisan politics. We now find ourselves on other state’s quarantine lists due to our increasing numbers.
Would you support another statewide shutdown if coronavirus cases continued to rise? If so, what are the factors that would lead you to that decision?
The safety of our citizens should be the number one priority for elected officials in any state. For this reason, any official must be willing to make the hard decisions in the name of public safety. Our COVID-19 numbers are going up, and the refusal of some citizens to follow basic protection measures threaten the economy, the start of school, and the health or lives of our citizens. This is something that could be done on a county-by-county basis using that county’s data of COVID-19 cases, infections rate, hospitalizations and ICU/ventilator numbers.
What do you think should be done to help the Kansas economy recover?
First we need to see where cuts could be made in our current budget. I would work to protect social services from cuts, as this would have the greatest impact on our most vulnerable citizens. DCF, mental health services and other vital services must be at 100% to get us through this difficult time. I would try to find ways to encourage and help small businesses stay open with grants or very low interest loans with stipulations that at minimum they leave their work force the same as pre-COVID levels. Other loans and grants could also be made available to entrepreneurs who want to diversify the job opportunities in the state. We must work with our federal partners as well to insure continued help for the unemployed. We must find ways for the unemployed to seek training in other areas, not just their current area of expertise. None of this will be possible unless people from all parties put aside certain differences and work together for the good of our state. I have done that in the past, and I will do it again as the Representative from District 98. We are stronger together.
Would you cut money for social services if it means lower taxes? Would you favor higher taxes for more social services?
Never. Social services are for our most vulnerable citizens and it is the responsibility of elected officials to protect them. I will always fight to protect social services for that reason. I am not in favor of raising any tax, although I would listen to the possibility of adding another tax bracket for any single person that makes over $250,000 or a couple that makes more than $500,000. The need for expanded social services would be the only reason I could see for the added bracket.
What should Kansas do to balance its budget? Will you support budget cuts for schools?
As I stated earlier, we need to see where cuts could be made in our current budget. As I said I would protect social services from cuts and I feel the same way about education funding. One of my goals when I was a Representative in the 2017-18 was to stop the continued legal suit known as Gannon v. Kansas. This suit proved time and time again that the state was not funding our K-12 public schools to our state’s constitutional levels in adequacy or equity. I will fight to protect the funding that has been promised to our K-12 public schools and found constitutional by our state’s Supreme Court. It is important to remember that the Court does still have jurisdiction over this suit, meaning if the state cuts the funding, they could open legal proceedings again.