Archive for Tuesday, October 20, 1998

CANDIDATES AIR VIEWS ON ISSUES

October 20, 1998

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Area political candidates squared off Monday at a forum that was televised on Sunflower Cablevision.

Tax cuts, education, transportation and city growth.

Candidates for Lawrence and area political races gave Sunflower Cablevision viewers an opportunity to listen to their stance on topics that will affect their constituencies.

The forum at city hall was sponsored by Sunflower Cablevision and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and included a panel of media representatives and students involved in the Kids Voting Kansas campaign.

County commission candidates Brian Kubota and Charles Jones shared similar views on the importance of completing the South Lawrence Trafficway, but they stressed different points when it came to the best way to lead Lawrence into the future.

``I believe in letting growth pay for growth,'' Jones said. ``Residential development doesn't pay for itself and it should.''

The issues come down to the ``haves'' and ``have-nots,'' Jones said.

``We have to invest in smart growth and protection for taxpayers,'' he said.

Kubota said that at this point the county commission doesn't have a firm plan to follow in areas of growth and development and economic expansion.

``We need to facilitate solutions and make rational decisions,'' he said. ``It's time for a plan.''

Republican House candidate Joann Flower and Democrat James Hack, from the 47th district, along with Democrat Caren Rugg and Republican Ralph Tanner from the 10th District and Republican Tom Sloan from the 45th District participated in the panel.

Sloan's opponent, Democrat Mike Rundle, did not participate. Rundle said when he entered the race he thought his name could be used until the Democratic party found a suitable candidate. Under Kansas laws once a candidate has filed for office, he or she must remain on the ballot unless unable to fulfill the terms of the office if elected.

``I realized I didn't have the time or resources to get into a full race,'' Rundle said. ``I waited until the 11th hour, then threw my hat into the ring. I'm more interested in getting involved in local government.''

House candidates fielded questions on the repeal of the state's sales tax on food, HMO care and a statewide transportation plan.

Rugg and Tanner participated even though their race, which includes Ottawa and Baldwin, may have been out of the viewing range. One of the biggest challenges facing the 10th district is the proposed widening of U.S. Highway 59, or the alternative of building a new highway along a slightly different route.

Both favor expansion of the current road.

``I don't think people want to pay the cost when the highway already exists,'' Rugg said. ``Although I do think it's a major impact for homes along 59.''

Tanner agreed but said he would support either plan that the Kansas Department of Transportation adopts.

``It's better to take the current alignment and make it four lanes,'' he said.

Candidates for the Kansas Board of Education Jack Davidson, Democrat, and John Bacon, Republican, differed on technology in schools and the issue of school vouchers.

Bacon, who has been called the conservative in the race, said he is comfortable with the label.

When it comes to technology, Bacon said that while students should learn computer skills, they should not be the main focus of the classroom.

``It's important for children to have computers, but as far as spending millions of dollars on the latest software, by the time they get into the work force it will be obsolete,'' he said.

Davidson disagreed.

``If you look at the modern world, high technology is everywhere,'' he said. ``Every school should be connected to the Internet, at least every junior high and high school. Upon graduation from high school every student should be computer literate.''

Davidson also adamantly opposed the use of school vouchers for private school funding. Bacon said that he, too, did not agree with giving public school funding to private schools, unless the public schools were inadequate in educating students.

``We may have to look at alternatives if the school district isn't doing its job,'' he said.

The election for local, state and national candidates is Nov. 3.

-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is jwatson@ljworld.com.

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