Archive for Monday, October 15, 2012

Candidates duel over tax cuts, school funding, evolution at forum

Candidates in seven races met Monday for forums that were telecast live on Channel 6. Pictured here are from left to right state Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, moderators Ann Gardner, editorial page editor of the Lawrence Journal-World, and Cory Smith, 6News anchor, and state Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City.

Candidates in seven races met Monday for forums that were telecast live on Channel 6. Pictured here are from left to right state Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, moderators Ann Gardner, editorial page editor of the Lawrence Journal-World, and Cory Smith, 6News anchor, and state Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City.

October 15, 2012


Disagreements over school funding, taxes and the teaching of evolution dominated a marathon session of candidate forums Monday night at the Douglas County Courthouse.

Candidates in seven races matched up in 30-minute segments in the County Commission chambers during a live telecast on Channel 6.

The event, sponsored by the Voter Education Coalition and 6News, produced several verbal jabs but no real knockouts.

Here were some of the highlights:

State Board of Education, District 4

Democratic incumbent Carolyn Campbell of Topeka and Republican Jack Wu, also of Topeka, clashed over school finance and the teaching of evolution.

Wu, a follower of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for its anti-homosexual rhetoric, said evolution should not be taught in schools. “I believe it is a lie from the devil” and is meant to keep people from believing in God, he said.

Campbell said strong science standards need to include evolution. Not teaching it, she said, would be a disservice to students. “My only agenda is to provide a solid education for our children,” she said.

On school finance, Campbell, who has been on the state board for four years, said schools need more funding. Wu said the current level of funding was adequate.

District 4 includes much of Lawrence.

State Senate District 2

Like many Democrats, Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, criticized Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cut package, which includes exempting the owners of 191,000 partnerships, sole proprietorships and other businesses from income taxes.

Francisco said the measure will reduce state revenues, spur businesses to reorganize to avoid taxes and make taxes more unfair.

She said she will try to scale back the tax cut by proposing to limit the business income tax exemption to the first $100,000 on nonwage income.

Her Republican opponent, Ron Ellis of Meriden, agreed with that proposal.

In addition, the two candidates also agreed more funding was needed for public schools.

State Senate District 3

State Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City, who faces state Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, were not as agreeable.

Holland said the tax cuts that Brown voted for “will cause financial crises for years to come.”

But Brown said the cuts will put more money back into the pockets of everyday Kansans and grow the economy.

Holland also criticized Brown because the tax cut eliminated a sales tax rebate program that is aimed at helping low-income Kansans. But Brown said Holland hurt low-income Kansans by voting in 2010 for a one-cent sales tax increase.

The two also dueled over safety improvements on Kansas Highway 10. Holland noted that Eudora Mayor Scott Hopson said Holland helped the community while Brown didn’t. Brown said he worked behind the scenes on K-10 cable median barriers.

State Senate District 19

State Sen. Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, called for restoring cuts that have been made in the past several years to public schools.

But Republican Casey Moore, R-Topeka, said he opposed additional funding for schools.

Moore said the state is spending $12,000 per student per year, but Hensley noted that includes many expenses unrelated to classroom instruction.

Moore said he supported making government smaller, but Hensley said shrinking government needed to be done carefully, and he used the example of when the Brownback administration wanted to shut down the state welfare office in Lawrence. “That would have been devastating to this community,” Hensley said. The plan was later abandoned after a huge public outcry.

State House District 44

Republican Patrick Bengtson, a political newcomer, said it was time for a new voice in the district, which has been represented for nearly 20 years by state Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence.

Bengtson wouldn’t say whether he would increase school funding but said of the state’s budget condition, “We cannot tax our way out of it, and we cannot cut our way out of it.”

Ballard said she supported additional funding for schools and noted her opposition to the recent tax cuts.

She said Lawrence voters knew her and that she would make the “hard votes” and fight for funding for mental health and those with disabilities.

State House District 10

Democrat John Wilson of Lawrence and Republican Erica Anderson of Baldwin City disagreed over school funding.

Wilson said schools needed additional funding, but Anderson said that they were getting enough.

Douglas County Commission, District 2

Republican challenger Frank Male and Democratic incumbent Nancy Thellman both expressed doubts about the feasibility of combining the Lawrence Police Department and Douglas County Sheriff’s office.


JackMcKee 5 years, 7 months ago

Is this Wu guy a serious candidate? Thus sounds like performance art at a level rarely witnessed.

grammarrodeo 5 years, 7 months ago

Strange that Wu's running as a Republican with the Phelps clan being Democrats and all.

But, yes, this is one of those rare instances where I'd vote D if those two were on my ballot.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 7 months ago

reason #1 why political party affiliation should be left off of ballots. You should be free to be supported by any party of your choosing, should be free to use any party's campaign contributions and be free to put whatever letters you want on your yard signs, but at the polls, people should see nothing but your name on the ballot.

Tracy Rogers 5 years, 7 months ago

I agree that party affiliation should be left off the ballots, but that should be done ONLY after these politicians stop voting the party line instead of voting for what they feel is the right thing to do.

ltownatrain 5 years, 7 months ago

While many people do vote primarily on party, I think his R will actually work against him some since district 4 includes most of Douglas county and all of Topeka, which, typically see a larger concentration of Democrats and Moderate Republicans. If this had been any district in Western Kansas I would totally agree with you, however, given the areas in District 4 the odds are working against him.

paulveer 5 years, 7 months ago

This scary premise you would totally agree with has been going on for years in rural Kansas.

paulveer 5 years, 7 months ago

A lot of folks not here today. C'mon Kansas conservatives. Why aren't you here defending Wu, who is running on your platform.

beatrice 5 years, 7 months ago

Because Wu is running on the God platform, which many conservatives on this site routinely support. He isn't a contradiction of what many conservatives believe, which is the case of Phelps running as a Democrat.

booyalab 5 years, 7 months ago

"she said she will try to scale back the tax cut" Uh, can we call it what it is...raising taxes? Everyone who doesn't want their taxes raised knows what you're really saying. You're not fooling anyone.

Patrick_Bengtson 5 years, 7 months ago

To clarify, I support increasing education funding, particularly for K-12.

In fact, at the candidate forum I said, "I support funding," and that "education is priority number one for me." For those interested, the complete candidate forum is available for free on Knology On Demand, with the debate for the Kansas House, District 44, starting around the 2:30 mark.

Patrick Bengtson

xyz 5 years, 7 months ago

Read Jack Wu's own words here: Most of the other candidates have submitted info, too. 7pm tonite is the deadline to register to vote!!

Richard Heckler 5 years, 7 months ago

Ron Ellis is likely a republican brought forward by Brownback. Beware of moderately sounding republicans. Koch and Brownback don't want them around. Once elected they are puppets. Brownback was coming off as almost moderate during his campaign for governor.....this is the right wing republican strategy and has been for about 30 years.

Brownback and Koch are campaigning against all moderate republicans. They don't like republicans or democrats.

Frank Male is Chamber of Commerce through and through who has been part of the inner circle for as long as I can remember. He will gladly hand over big tax dollar gifts to developers.

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 7 months ago

Wu sounds like he is representing the Kansas GOP platform very accurately.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 5 years, 7 months ago

Who can blame those who doubt evolution. They have been left behind (half-assed), so to speak. Excrement fall more freely from the half-assed.

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