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State Senate candidate Shari Weber to chat

October 9, 2008

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Shari Weber, Republican candidate for the Kansas Senate District 19, will chat online at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Moderator:

Hello and welcome to this Election 2008 LJWorld.com online chat. I'm Online editor Jonathan Kealing and I'll be your moderator. We have with us Sharon Weber, candidate for 19th Kansas Senate District. Welcome Sharon and thanks for joining us today.

Shari Weber:

Thanks Jonathan . . . It is truly a joy to be with you today and I welcome input on this 19th District Senate race . . . you may call me Shari!

Moderator:

The 19th Senate district represents an area that includes virtually all of southwest Douglas County, northern Osage County and eastern Topeka and eastern Shawnee County.

Moderator:

We have several questions already but we're still taking more. Here comes the first question.

LawrenceVoter:

You currently live in Osage County. How does someone who lives in the most rural part of the district plan to represent those voters who live in urban Topeka and Lawrence?

Shari Weber:

I have experience in living and working in both urban and rural areas. For the past decade and a half I have worked in Topeka because of my 10 years of legislative service in the Kansas House including two years as Majority Leader in 2001 and 2002. At the same time I represented an area that included both "urban" and rural area such as Abilene, Herington, Council Grove and Americus which is just outside of Emporia. I have had the opportunity to live on our family farm near Shady Brook for over twenty years and yet work in and around the big city. My husband and I have worked in our business for over 25 years . . . Weber Tire which catered to people in a 5 state region who needed heavy equipment, industrial, agricultural and off-the-road tires . . . so I have had the best of both worlds to live and work around.

situveux1:

Do you think it was appropriate for your opponent to get involved in the Senate Dist. 5 primary race against a fellow member of his party? What would you do different to refocus the office on the needs of constituents?

Shari Weber:

I do not think that mean mischief is ever appropriate . . . especially in the context of the leadership that is expected of one who is elected by his caucus colleagues to promote the ideals of his or her party in the context of good public policy for the whole state of Kansas. Not supporting the incumbent in his caucus leaves one to wonder what else has gone on during his watch for the caucus that elected him. Senator Gilstrap was a seasoned and respected legislator who worked with both sides of the aisle and did not vote against his soul . . . for that he was penalized by both the Governor of our state and his colleague - the minority leader of the Senate. Gilstrap would not carry their "water".

I would refocus the office by listening to the constituency as well as identifying specific needs for the constituents and the neighborhoods or communities they live in . . . I also intend to focus on the budget and screen expenses . . . we need to live within our revenue being ever mindful that the tax dollars come from citizens who are especially cognizant right now of the economy and the effect on their quality of life for their families. I would endeavor to cut waste and identify priorities that need to be funded. I value the public trust and I would endeavor not to violate it by wasting your tax dollars.

Kropotkin:

Rep. Weber: A review of your voting record shows dismal support for school funding and issues, and absenteeism. Dominating your contribution sources are lobbyists for health care, gambling and energy industries, including consistent funding from billionaire Charles Koch. Koch has been a major player in the nationwide embarassment at the Kansas Board of Education. His lobbyists have successfuly kept the Kansas minimum wage at $2.65/hr. You've regularly supported reducing taxes for major corporations, putting the burden for education on middle class taxpayers. Can you explain these positions?

Moderator:

Just a reminder that if you have a question you're interested in asking, you may still submit it at this time.

Shari Weber:

Yes . . . how much time do you have? Your perspective of "dismal" support for school funding must reflect that voting for more money each year you serve as a legislator serves as "dismal support". I support parents partnering with teachers to raise good citizens in the context of public education and I have voted every year to support k - 12 education with more funding. As for absenteeism, you have astutely identified the challenge in k- 12 public education than could net us the best results in positively affecting the lives of our Kansas children. One year while in the House during an interim (June - December), I sent every school district in the state of Kansas a letter asking them to elaborate on the actual process they employed when dealing with truancy. I was researching information to utilize in address this problem. Most of the school districts did not even write me back much less share their truancy process in their district. . . . I have always been supportive of working on the issue of truancy. During this current campaign . . . I think you would not be able to identify such campaign contributions from "lobbyists for health care, gambling and energy industries including Charles Koch who in your review has been a player in our Kansas Board of Education notariety . . . I disagree with your perspective that it has been an "embarassment" rather it has shown the nation and the world that we have strong opinions and are willing to express them in the context of public review, scrutiny and decision-making for our most valuable asset . . . our school children whom we nurture. As for the minimum wage . . . we are a right to work state and so the free market governs much more effectively in the arena of paying people for the skills they can utilized to be productive workers in Kansas. I have always been an advocate of paying people well based on their work performance and level of skill/experience. You are right . . . I will vote to reduce taxes on anyone or any entity as that keeps more dollars in the pockets of our citizens. Our state budget all funds has grown over the past decade and a half from approximately $ 7 billion to over 14 billion dollars . . . that is almost double and cutting taxes cuts the revenue stream. Our state government has proven that it spends everything the taxpayer generates and then some . . . this is not good - rather we should live within our means and create a true "rainy day fund" for times such as these that we are about to encounter because of our national monetary "bail-out" situation. More to come if you have time.

LawrenceVoter:

In 2002, the Kansas Legislature imposed $252 million in tax increases on the taxpayers of Kansas (Senate Bill 39) - the largest tax increase in history. As a member of the Kansas House of Representatives during this time, how did you vote on SB 39? And, if elected, how will you vote on future proposed tax increases?

Moderator:

We'll have just one last question before we have to let Shari go.

Shari Weber:

You have brought up an historic moment in the Kansas Legislature. Just 90 days after the tragic September 11 event in 2001 . . . the 2002 legislative session convened. Agriculture was experiencing an all time low in pricing and markets and . . . . agriculture IS number one in our state. Aviation is number 2 and the events of September 11 had seriously curtailed that industry which is 25% with its ancillary component . . . and tourism is our number 3 money generator and no one was traveling, in fact, people were canceling trips and conventions, etc. People were unsettled (much the way they are now after the "bail-out") and we started session with a projected hole in revenue of $1 - 2 million which then grew during session to over $3 million. Several seasoned Republican legislators and I put our heads together and came up with a plan to move money around and cut a few things temporarily and just in general make our budget dollars work (including fully funding k - 12 education with no cuts from the previous year) without putting more pain on our taxpayers by elevating their taxes. That was in March of 2002 . . . long before our budget ran through in early April ... I was the Majority Leader so getting our idea on the floor of the House was something I facilitated . . . we had great debate . . . but the bill never made it out of the House. I knew then we were going to have to raise taxes in order to cover the hole in the state budget because the body had debated and voted . . . rejecting the proposal. Remember, we are required to fund k-12 education every year and that occupied well over 50 - 60 % of our budget depending on what you "count" . . . so a tax increase was inevitable. It was a long "fight" . . . we had to extend session far beyond what I proposed as the Majority Leader. . . but the Senate keep sending us tax bills of over the amount needed to fill the hole and I did not want to put our chamber through that kind of futile debate. We needed to elevate taxes only for what was absolutely necessary . . . over taxing more than we needed to fund the policy most of the legislators in the chambers were willing to vote for was not necessary. Yes, in the end, I voted for the tax increase ( although I also voted at least two times against it) to keep from scathing public education; however, history proved that wasn't good enough because the school systems brought suit against its Mother the state for even more money in the following years . . . so the saga continued in a special session in 2005. This session I do not see raising taxes as the answer . . . after all . . . it didn't work for us in the years to follow 2002. I will not be voting to raise taxes or fees this session of 2009 if I receive the trust of the voters and am elected as the 19th District Senator.

LawrenceVoter:

How long have you lived in the 19th Senate District?

Shari Weber:

In 2002 after I lost a primary to Bill Kassebaum in the 68th House district . . . I knew I would not be a legislator nor have the responsibilities of the Majority Leader's office year round . . . so I started looking for a job . . . and ended up taking the position of CEO for the Community Bankers Association of Kansas in May 2003. I traveled the state for them and already had a legislative apartment in Topeka - the Gem building on the corner of 10th and Topeka. Because I was spending more time in Topeka managing the CBA office . . . my husband and looked for a quieter place for me to sleep while away from the farm at Shady Brook. I wanted a lake view . . . so we looked at Perry, Clinton, Pomona and Melvern Corp of Engineer lakes . . . we came up with Pomona and purchased property there in 2004 . . . we then sold Weber Tire eventually and our home on the farm . . . and migrated to Vassar. The place we settled on near Vassar on the south shore of Pomona Lake had termites so we spent a couple of years on weekends fixing that before being able to move in . . . but, we actually moved our formal legal residence there at then end of 2007 after my husband took a job with Ed Bozarth Chevrolet. So . . . by now you can tell that I am from Norwegian decent and can therefore not tell a short story. However, I can tell you that in Vassar the women are strong, the men are all good-looking and the children above average! Thanks for letting me tell my residence story . . .

Moderator:

I want to thank everyone who posted questions and those who logged on to follow along. And thank you Shari for taking time to join us.

Shari Weber:

I would like to thank the Lawrence Journal World for making this opportunity for on-line dialogue and Jonathan for moderating our session . . . I would be pleased to answer other policy questions. You can check out my website: weber4senate.com, give me a call at 785-828-3859, stop by our campaign headquarters in Topeka at 924 Kansas (please call for an appointment because I am out at forums or walking neighborhoods) or drop me an e-mail: sjweber@embarqmail.com - I send all of you my best regards!

Comments

Frank Smith 6 years, 2 months ago

Shari Weber wrote: "I think you would not be able to identify such campaign contributions from 'lobbyists for health care, gambling and energy industries including Charles Koch who in your review has been a player in our Kansas Board of Education notariety'(sic)."------------------Actually, Charles Koch is the 800-pound gorilla at the Kansas Chamber. His employee, formerly a lobbyist with the Chamber, was made Education Commissioner by the Koch-supported anti-evolution majority on the Kansas Board of Education. The KS Chamber has been successful at keeping the state minimum wage at $2.65/hr., which apparently Shari feels is fair for some workers.How's this for some "gambling, energy and health care contributions" for Shari?RUFFIN, PHIL Gambling & Casinos $200 09/16/2004 PRAIRIE BAND POTAWATOMI NATION $250 07/27/2004 RIVER FALLS GAMING Gambling & Casinos (TX) $250 12/23/2004 PRAIRIE BAND POTAWATOMI NATION $500 10/27/2004 KANSAS RACING LLC Gambling & Casinos $500 10/13/2004 KOCH INDUSTRIES Oil & Gas $500 07/28/2004 KOCH INDUSTRIES Oil & Gas $500 10/27/2004 DAVIS, L D Oil & Gas WEBER $500 07/28/2004 VESS ENTERPRISES $500 07/22/2004 VESS, J MICHAEL Oil & Gas $500 07/22/2004 EXXONMOBIL Oil & Gas (TX) $300 12/02/2004 ATMOS ENERGY Electric Utilities (TX) $200 10/27/2004 EL PASO ENERGY Oil & Gas (TX) $200 10/08/2004 ANADARKO PETROLEUM Oil & Gas (TX) $150 10/01/2004 AQUILA Electric Utilities (NE) $150 10/27/2004 OCCIDENTAL PETROLEUM Oil & Gas (CA) $150 10/06/2004 KANSAS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE & INDUSTRY $500 06/30/2004 BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF KANSAS Insurance $150 10/01/2004 KANSAS CHIROPRACTIC ASSOC Health Professionals $250 09/29/2004 KANSAS HEALTH CARE ASSOC Hospitals & Nursing Homes $250 12/29/2004 KANSAS MEDICAL SOCIETY Health Professionals $250 10/01/2004 KANSAS OPTOMETRIC ASSOC Health Professionals $200 10/18/2004 JOHNSON & JOHNSON Pharmaceuticals & Health Products (NJ) $100 10/12/2004 PFIZER Pharmaceuticals & Health Products $100 10/01/2004 "Absenteeism?" School Finance (No Vote) 2006-05-09 - Vote to adopt a conference report that appropriates an additional $466.2 million over three years for public school funding....2006 Weber supported the interests of the KS Assn of School Boards 0%.2005 Weber supported the interests of the KS Assn of School Boards 60%2002 Weber supported interests of the KS National Education Association 40% 1997 Weber supported the interests of the KNEA 3.45%.1995-1996 On the votes that the KNEA considered to be the most important, Weber voted their preferred position 27.42% of the time http://www.votesmart.org/issue_rating_category.php?can_id=7039So, who's telling the truth here?

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