Kansas House candidate John Wilson to chat

October 22, 2008

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

Kansas House District 45 Democratic candidate John Wilson will chat online at 1 p.m., Oct. 22.


Hello and welcome to this LJWorld.com Election 2008 online chat. I'm online editor Jonathan Kealing and I'll be your moderator. We have with us John Wilson, who is running for the 45th Kansas House district. Welcome John.

John Wilson:

Thanks Jonathan! It's a pleasure to be chatting with you and all of the LJWorld participants. I'm really looking forward to your questions.


I see that two of your main focuses are affordable health care and education. Personally, I believe a key component affecting both issues is childhood obesity. With Kansas ranking as the 27th fattest state, what are you planning to do to help make our children healthier as well as decrease the strain on the healthcare system that the obesity epidemic is undoubtedly contributing to? In addition, what do you believe are the key contributors to this epidemic and to whom, if anyone, do you assign responsibility for the obesity epidemic?


Just a reminder to our audience, we have several questions already but we're still taking more.

John Wilson:

Blangston, thanks for your question. This is actually an area area in which I have quite a bit of experience. For the past two years I've worked with former President Bill Clinton's Foundation and the American Heart Association on reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States. Nearly one in three children in the United States is overweight or obese. This could have a catastrophic effect on our health care system. We know that there isn't just one cause for obesity, but that it is a multitude of factors. Prevention is the best way to address this issue. I propose that we work with insurance providers to cover the cost of preventative care, develop programs to improve the overall school health environment, and work local governments and non-profits to make our communities healthy places to live, work, and play.


John, you are running for office now but you didn't even bother to vote in 2006. What type of message do you think this sends? Also, as a lifelong Kansan, I am always interested in our state candidates' stories. But I am concerned about your knowledge of our state's needs and, more so, our city's needs. I've heard that you only moved to Lawrence in June of this year. Why move here now? Was it just to run for office?

John Wilson:

Thanks, PurpleKansas75. Allow me to clarify. In 2006 I was working for the Clinton Foundation in New York following my time at the University of Kansas and voted there. I actually returned to Lawrence in October of last year, where I continued my work on childhood obesity for the Foundation. You can ask anyone I worked with in New York, and they'll tell you I couldn't wait to get back to Kansas, specifically Lawrence. I adore this community, and that's reflected by my service at Plymouth Church, my leadership on the Ecumenical Christian Ministries Board, and the class I'm co-teaching at the University. I chose to run after seeing a disappointing Legislative session this past spring.


what is your background and why are you running?

John Wilson:

Thanks, jimjesse. I addressed some of this in the answer above, but I'm happy to expand upon that. I grew up in southern Oklahoma, but inherited a love for Lawrence and KU from my parents--both KU grads. In fact, they got married in Danforth Chapel on campus. Actually, I'm the only one of my siblings not born in Kansas...I still fault my parents for that!

I graduated from KU with a degree in design and visual communication. I directed the Center for Community Outreach at KU, where I ran over a dozen programs designed to connect students with service opportunities in the community. During that same time, I worked with University officials to create the Center for Service Learning at KU. This commitment to service is really the bedrock for my run for office.


Why would Kansans be better off with you as a representative than Tom Sloan?

John Wilson:

Thanks, great question holstead. First and foremost, I believe that elected officials should listen to and work with their constituents, and not special interest groups. Over the past three months I've gone door-to-door and asked voters what their concerns were. And it's clear: the economy, health care, and education. My opponent has had 14 years in office and has kept himself very busy on a number of boards, panels and committees. He's introduced a number of resolutions and legislation. What we need to look at is if these efforts have actually benefited his constituents.

As my work at the Clinton Foundation demonstrates, I am able to bring people from all sides of an issue together to work for a common cause. Grappling with this economic downturn is one of our biggest challenges. My plans for education, health care, and energy policy will strengthen the Kansas economy. I wish I had more time to elaborate on each point. You can learn more about my plans at www.johnwilsonforkansas.com and also watch the recent candidate forum that my opponent and I participated in (http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/oct/21/coalfired_plants_still_hot_topic_house_races/).


The next questions is a two-parter...


What can the Kansas legislature pass (as a law) that would make health care more affordable, how much money (tax dollars) would it cost - what amount would be needed to fund your idea(s), and would you support a tax increase too pay those cosrts or instead support cutting out other things from the current budget (and if so what should be eliminated or cut back on that is currently being funded by the state)?


P.S. If your answer is that you will not use tax dollars to support an increase in health care coverage, do you think the insurance companies will not raise their rates on everyone else if they are mandatorily required to cover people who cannot pay the premiums set by actuarial tables/experts?

John Wilson:

Great question, justthefacts. This is a very complex issue that I won't be able to fully address in this answer. Appropriate funding for prevention programs--whether that is smoking cessation or nutrition education--are key to solving this problem. Early childhood intervention has proven to be affective in combating expensive chronic illness down the road, which means we need to expand health care coverage to children. My opponent voted against such measures (like Health Wave funding). Furthermore, in addressing budgetary concerns, we need to look at how we actually bring more money to the state for services like health care. An ideal way to do this is to aggressively develop our renewable energy opportunities. Building massive, dirty coal plants will not do anything for the economy or health of the state. Coal is a huge contributor to air pollution and the largest source of mercury contamination in the country. In regards to insurance companies, we need to bring all stakeholders to the table to address these concerns.


I was thrilled to learn that you've been endorsed by Gov. Sebelius. Your opponent Tom Sloan says he supported the Holcomb plants because they would be outfitted with the cleanest coal technologies and because he inserted renewable energy options into two of the three bills that were part of the Holcomb debate. He is also a proponent of water issues so doesn't that also make him a green candidate?

John Wilson:

Thanks, littleindia15c. Yes, I have been endorsed by Governor Sebelius and am grateful for her support. Tom Sloan is not as green you think. He talks extensively about water issues and support for renewable energy, but his votes for the Holcomb coal plants tell the real story. These plants would have depleted and polluted the water in the areas around Holcomb. I would also like to address the notion of "clean" coal. That's oxymoron. Currently, there is no commercially viable, utility-scale clean coal technology. Even the EPA under the Bush administration has pulled money out of proposed "clean" coal plants. Furthermore, energy generation from coal is becoming more expensive at every level of the process-from mining, to transportation, to plant construction, to the cost of experimental carbon mitigation technologies. The cost of new coal power technologies and the cost of new wind power are effectively the same. The difference, though, is that wind as an energy source is abundant, clean, and free. My constituents can count on me to aggressively pursue wind energy development and other renewable energy sources that will meet our baseload requirements in Kansas, along with the jobs and economic development that accompany it.


This will be our last question for John:


Mr. Wilson, thank you for your willingness to run for office. Do you have an energy plan?

John Wilson:

Thank you for your question, RichLorenzo. That's a great question. Kansas is lagging behind because there has been almost nothing done to show developers that their jobs and their business are welcome. Kansas needs to craft a renewable portfolio standard stipulating that at least 20% of our energy come from renewable sources (currently about 75% of our energy comes from coal). We need building codes that promote efficiency. We need a fair net-metering policy statewide. Kansas can meet the energy demands of the 21st century. We have the third best wind resources in the country, an able-bodied, skilled workforce and a tremendous work ethic. We need to work with our vocational schools, community colleges, and regents schools on training and degree programs that prepare students for great-paying "green collar" jobs.


John, thanks very much for joining us today. Just a reminder, we have another chat going on right now with Stephanie Kelton, a candidate for the 38th Kansas House District seat. We also have a number of other chats scheduled in the next week and a half. If you'd like to post a question in any of those chats - or to see transcripts of past chats including one with John's opponent, Tom Sloan - log onto LJWorld.com/chats. Thanks again to everyone who logged on for this chat.

John Wilson:

Thanks for the opportunity to chat! The one issue that didn't come up that I'd really like to address is education. I've benefited from public schools my entire life, K-KU. There is nothing more important to the future of Kansas and our economy than the strength of our education system. That system is the strongest when local schools are given the resources they need. My commitment to funding education, supporting teachers, and providing resources to students is why the Kansas National Education Association endorsed my campaign.

If you have any more questions, please email me at johnwilsonforkansas@sunflower.com, visit my website at www.johnwilsonforkansas.com, or find my page on Facebook. I would appreciate your vote on November 4. Thanks!


justthefacts 9 years, 5 months ago

Really nice job of avoiding answering a question. Question: Since you say that provding affordable health care is one of your goals, what would you do to make sure there is affordable health care?Answer: Prevention efforts and educating people on better health habits is the key. Huh???? How does prevention and education provide actual health care?? It doesn't. I know the issue is complex. But affordable health care means someone - the doctor, the insurance company, the patients, the tax payers, the magic money machine - is going to have to PAY for people who cannot afford health care. AND for anyone with ecnomics 101 under their belt, making a private company or an individual health care provider pay for more or get less will only result in those costs being passed along to others. The only way around that quandry is to NATIONALIZE (socialize) medicine...meaning the GOVERNMENT (Tax payers) pick up the bill(s). Not that complicated really. Just wondering where you stand on the issue. Guess I'll have to guess at the answer......

catlady008 9 years, 5 months ago

Honesty is a Kansas value -- thought you should kow that since you pretend to be from Kansas and pretend to have our values. So here is a piece of advice -- lies don't work here.Representative Sloan came to my door just a couple of days ago, and we had a conversation about Healthwave. Rep. Sloan VOTED FOR Healthwave, which is important to me because that is how we can afford health care.If you are going to run for office, have some real answers -- not just lies. I am going to vote again for Rep. Sloan.

justthefacts 9 years, 5 months ago

Tom Sloan has won over many voters, year after year, by (a) going door to door, all year long, to actually meet and discuss things (one-on-one) with the voters and (b) doing what he says he will do and not doing what he said he would not do. Plus, when he's in a committee hearing at the state house, he (and God Bless her Marci) is one of the few elected law makers who can be counted upon to have READ the bill and pre-filed testimony, and done some research in advance, so he (unlike so many) has a CLUE about the topic before him. That's why he's stayed popular, despite being in the "wrong" party for so many in Lawrence! It's a formula that more politicians should try. We don't need more high-sounding platitudes and promises that cannot be kept. Plain talk, doing your homework, and telling the truth. That's what it will (should) take.

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