Archive for Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Local GOP candidates discuss guns, education standards at county forum

Rep. Ken Corbet of Topeka, answers questions during a GOP candidates forum Tuesday night sponsored by the Douglas County Republican Party. Rep. Tom Sloan of Lawrence, left, his challenger Jeremy Pierce, and Rep. Connie O'Brien of Tonganoxie, right, were among the other candidates participating.

Rep. Ken Corbet of Topeka, answers questions during a GOP candidates forum Tuesday night sponsored by the Douglas County Republican Party. Rep. Tom Sloan of Lawrence, left, his challenger Jeremy Pierce, and Rep. Connie O'Brien of Tonganoxie, right, were among the other candidates participating.

July 5, 2016


Republican candidates running for the Douglas County Commission and local seats in the Kansas Legislature generally agreed in supporting Second Amendment gun rights, but they differed on whether the state should require people to be trained before they're allowed to carry concealed weapons, especially in public buildings.

And with the notable exception of Rep. Tom Sloan of Lawrence, all those running for the Legislature said they supported repealing the Common Core education standards and expanding "school choice" initiatives such as private school vouchers and independent charter schools.

Those were among the major topics Tuesday night during a GOP candidates forum sponsored by the Douglas County Republican Party.

"I am absolutely pro-Second Amendment," said Echo Van Meteren, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Tom Holland of Baldwin City in the 3rd Senate District. "I believe that every individual should have the ability to protect themselves, hunt and do whatever legally they would like to do."

Rep. Connie O'Brien of Tonganoxie, whose 42nd House District includes part of Leavenworth County and eastern Douglas County, said she has supported allowing former law enforcement officers to carry weapons without a permit.

"And it's very important that we as citizens have that right too to protect ourselves," she said. "As you see in this day and age, you never know when you might be a victim."

O'Brien's challenger in the GOP primary, Jim Karleskint of Tonganoxie, did not attend Tuesday's forum.

Rep. Ken Corbet of Topeka, whose 54th House District extends into southwest Douglas County, and Jeremy Pierce of Lawrence, who is challenging Sloan in the 45th House District, went even further.

"The Second Amendment protects the rest of them, and that's the way this country was set up," Corbet said. "The bad guys are going to have guns wherever they go, and they're not going to worry about training. And I believe Kansas is above the curve when you can carry open and concealed in this state without a permit. We may be the only capitol in the country where you can have a concealed weapon in the Statehouse."

"I believe the Second Amendment is a natural right that predates and preempts the Constitution," Pierce said. "Even if we didn't have the Second Amendment, we would have the right to protect ourselves."

But a few candidates said the state may have gone too far last year in repealing a requirement that people undergo a gun safety training course and obtain a permit before being allowed to carry concealed weapons.

"Possibly we need to re-look at the idea of people, when they first get their concealed carry permit, that they all take the test," said Meredith Richey of Perry, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Marci Francisco of Lawrence in the 2nd Senate District.

"I support the Second Amendment. I own pistols, rifles and other guns, and I know how to use them," Sloan said. "Having said that, I also opposed the concealed carry without going through the training. That's a safety issue. It's a safety issue for the person carrying the weapon, and it's a safety issue for the rest of society."

The state's gun laws will also have an impact on city and county governments where, beginning next year, governing bodies will have to allow concealed weapons inside public buildings unless they provide adequate security measures to prevent anyone from bringing weapons inside.

The two Republicans running for the 3rd District Douglas County Commission seat both said they have concerns about that.

"I do have concerns about some public offices, especially the city and county commission rooms, simply because there are unstable and irate people that tend to come in," said Michelle Derusseau.

Her opponent in the primary, Jim Denney, said he shared those concerns, but he still supports the current law.

"I think the Kansas Legislature, as I understand it, has done a reasonable job in saying, 'if you can guarantee that nobody is going to carry in a gun, then OK,'" he said.

Education policy

The Statehouse candidates were nearly unanimous in their opposition to the Common Core education standards that the Kansas State Board of Education formally adopted as the "Kansas College and Career Ready Standards" in 2010, and most said they want the standards repealed.

But few seemed to realize that the state board is already in the process of revising and updating those standards for English language arts and math, and that they will be amended next summer.

Richey, Van Meteren, O'Brien and Corbet all said they support repealing those standards, arguing that they represent a form of federal intrusion into state education policy.

"I think the biggest problem is that the feds are involved in education in this state," O'Brien said. "And I think this is more of a local control issue."

Pierce, however, said he believes the Common Core standards represent an even bigger threat.

"I believe it's patently wrong to have some of these agendas that are put forth by Common Core such as some of these 72-gender stuff that you see and some of the alternative lifestyle ideas that parents should really be introducing to their kids, not their math teacher," Pierce said.

The Common Core standards in English language arts and math actually make no mention of human sexuality or alternative lifestyles. Facebook now allows users to choose from 71 different gender identities, but these have nothing to do with Common Core education standards.

Sloan was the only GOP candidate to defend the Common Core standards.

"It was the State Board of Education that initially adopted them," he said. "The Lawrence school district has looked at them and spent millions of dollars preparing teachers and students and their curriculum for it. More importantly, I'm not seeing that students will be harmed. The change from rote memorization ... to more applying what you learn is the future."

Sloan was also the only GOP candidate at the forum who said he opposes expanding school choice programs like private school vouchers and independent charter schools. All the other Statehouse candidates at the forum said they support those initiatives.

"A public school must accept every student - those who are high achievers; those who are not," Sloan said. "It's nice to say that the money should follow the student, and the parent can then determine where the money is spent. But keep in mind that if public schools are going to be the places for the higher-cost, special-needs kids, you're still going to be spending lots of money there."

The primary elections will be held Aug. 2. Advance voting in the primaries begins July 13.


Brett McCabe 1 year, 6 months ago

Did I miss the part where someone had proposed changing the Second Amendment? The Republican party's fascination with imaginary issues and conspiracy theories seems to grow faster than the green blob on that Geico commercial.

The key to winning Republican election is to place ads in the National Enquirer and on the Jerry Springer Show. Then take the Trump approach of each day trying to tell a whopper that was bigger than yesterday's whopper. If you tell 'em fast enough, the fact-checkers won't be able to keep up.

Chris Jeter 1 year, 6 months ago

hmm just every Democratic politician remotely thinking about running?

Brett McCabe 1 year, 6 months ago

Again with the imagination. With so many actual, real issues in the world, why do you try to create additional, non-existent ones?

Nick Naidenov 1 year, 6 months ago

Yes actual issues like pushing for war in Libya and Syria or bribing the FBI or having 50 people that know too much die suddenly and mysteriously you know things like that.

Ken Lassman 1 year, 6 months ago

My Lord, what a bunch of folks who have had the wool pulled over their eyes! Why does dogma so dominate the Republican agenda these days? How is it that facts have taken such a back seat in the state GOP? The traditional Republican legacy in our state has been so upended that the title "Republican" should be officially retired and those attempting to pass under the guise of that name should be sued for perjury, slander or both.

The Common Core an attempt by the feds to take over our curriculum???? Show me where the feds have participated in the development of Common Core at any point along its development! Show me where they have participated in development of the STEM standards! The feds, seeing the quality of the outcome of the local/state driven Common Core development process, have embraced them, and because of this those standards have become somehow tainted and an attempt at federal takeover? This is Alice-in-Wonderland thinking, folks, and those who unthinkingly spout such logic are definitely speaking from a place well down that rabbit hole.

Paul R Getto 1 year, 6 months ago

Feds baaaad, until the Gov asks for disaster relief.

Kathleen Ammel 1 year, 6 months ago

I thought reporters were just supposed to report the facts, not debate them. Biased much, Peter???

Brett McCabe 1 year, 6 months ago

Conspiracy theorists unite! No moonwalk! Born in Kenya! WMD! Obama is really ISIS! The media is against us!

P Allen Macfarlane 1 year, 6 months ago

Kathleen, I believe the reporter did point out a few facts that some of the candidates overlooked. Pointing out these facts is not debating, unless of course the reporter is advocating for a position. I didn't see any indication that he was advocating.

Chris Bohling 1 year, 6 months ago

I support gun rights in general but have no problem with requiring people to get some form of training or licensing to carry in public, so long as those documents and that training can be received free of charge. Otherwise it's no longer "right to bear arms" but instead "right to bear arms if you can afford it."

April Baker 1 year, 6 months ago

I'm going to call it now! Jeremy Sloan will win. He literally just used the most uninformed, emotionally based talking points when questioned. That's all it takes these days! Who cares if you confused a Facebook policy with common core issues (not to mention the number of genders available). Natural right to own guns? Sure, why the hell not ? Can't wait for this goon to get quoted in the paper more!

Cille King 1 year, 6 months ago

April, You mean Jeremy Ryan Piece was "the most uninformed, emotionally based talking points". He is challenging incumbent Tom Sloan. Please don't get them confused - very different knowledge and positions.

April Baker 1 year, 6 months ago

ahhh, snap. You're right. Pierce... A typo on my part.

Bob Forer 1 year, 6 months ago

The state budget is a massive dumpster fire and the only thing most of these idiots (I except Tom Sloan from the idiot label) can talk about is guns, guns guns. They obviously don't have a clue as to how to fix what is wrong with Kansas, and certainly are not worthy of public office.

Richard Neuschafer 1 year, 6 months ago

Very poor candidates who have their priorities seriously fouled up. They must want that support from the gun nuts and the NRA awfully badly. And more bad ideas about education to dumb down the population even more so that they will vote for conservatives. Pathetic.

Richard Heckler 1 year, 6 months ago

Jeremy Pierce is a ALEC representative. It is no surprise that Sam Brownback,ALEC and the Koch name want Tom Sloan gone.

I am assuming the Pierce campaign is being controlled by Aegis Strategic:

Best vote Tom Sloan!

Jim Woody 1 year, 6 months ago

Everyone needs to keep in mind that when Republicans talk about school "choice," what they are talking about is taking public tax dollars away from public schools and giving that money to people who run for-profit schools. Charter schools are not held accountable, and they have proven terrible "choices" in other parts of the country. And while it may sound appealing to send your kids to a private school on vouchers, those schools are still private, and they will throw out any students who have special needs that the school does not wish to deal with, who don't perform academically to the school's satisfaction, or who have any behavioral problems.

Jim Woody 1 year, 6 months ago

With all the self-inflicted economic problems facing Kansas, these candidates wasted time worrying about restrictions on the absolutely unrestricted gun rights in the state. They also seemed to have time to waste voicing their disapproval and poor understanding of Common Core! Did the subject of the unfair tax structure and other disastrous budget considerations in Kansas come up, or did they spend the rest of their time warning of the "rampant" illegal voting fraud that threatens to completely invalidate elections in this country? If these candidates only discussed what is covered in this article, they are all prime examples of what is wrong with Republicans in this state. Vote Democrat!

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 year, 6 months ago

What do they feel about Brownback's policies. Why weren't they asked that? Cowards.

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