Questions were sent to local candidates for the House of Representative in districts 26, 38, 43 and 121 last week. Questions were sent electronically via e mail and messenger. Those who chose to respond by deadline are included.
Answers are unedited and appear as received.
Advance voting has begun; election day is Nov. 6, 2018.
State Representative Bill Sutton has served the 43rd District for the last six years. He currently serves as Chairman of the General Government Budget Committee, as well as serving on the Appropriations Committee and the Education Committee. He’s been married to Lana for 23 years and has raised three fantastic children.
My parents bought the family farm where I currently live in 1960. My brother continues to farm and manage the operation of the land. I was born in Gardner and educated in the Gardner-Edgerton Schools. I am a retired teacher and counselor. I am a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, a National Certified Counselor and have training to be a National Disaster Counselor.
I’ve lived in District 26 for 16 years. I grew up on a farm near Garnett and moved to Olathe 33 years ago. Professionally, I’m a Certified Financial Planner I have degree in Applied Organization Leadership from MNU and an MBA from WGU. I serve on two state boards and lead a non-profit serving veterans.
Attended William Paterson College, Wayne NJ and Park College while serving in the U.S. Army at Fort Leavenworth. Retired Captain, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, served on the Johnson County Charter Commission and have lived in the district for over 30 years.
I’m a married father of two young children, and have extended family that lives in Gardner. I believe strongly that Kansas has moved away from ‘people-first’ policies, as shown by expensive food taxes, defunded education, and growing medical costs, and I decided to run for office to fix those issues.
38th District Willie Dove
Question 1 Healthcare
Medicaid pays for medical services for children and their caretakers, pregnant women, and persons who are disabled, blind or 65 years of age or older. Households with two incomes must be under $21,892, according to the website. Births to unwed mothers were about 36 percent in 2016.
Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2012, Kansas has refused federal funding that would expand Medicaid in our state.
Do you believe we should move to expand Medicaid? Why or Why not?
Finley – Yes, we need to expand Medicaid. If we do not help those that are in need or hurting that speaks poorly to what we are as a society. I have been a care-giver for a handicapped parent and understand the need in helping those less fortunate than ourselves.
Sutton – Absolutely not. Medicaid is already an overburdened, ineffective system for the people currently eligible. Long waiting lists are the rule, rather than the exception. It’s irrational to believe that adding able-bodied people to this system would improve outcomes for those who desperately need it.
Mitchell – Yes, low-income families could see a shift in household expenses away from healthcare to other life necessities like clothing and food. Healthy people have better job security and help grow the economy.
Resman – Medicaid currently covers the neediest in our state. Every state that expanded Medicaid has underestimated the cost and number of enrollees. They are now increasing or implementing new taxes to pay for expansion. School funding remains the top issue to resolve along with repaying KPERS. We simply cannot afford expansion.
Gill – $10.50, 40 hrs a week, for a year in the example is the upper wage for Medicaid assistance. Think of a neighbor who has to worry about going a dollar over the limit, and having no affordable medical insurance. Kansas can do better, and I would vote to expand Medicaid.
Question 2 Character
Knowing that your behavior effects others; how important do you believe honesty, integrity, courtesy and transparency are when conducting the taxpayers’ business?
Finley – These are characteristics that we hope all people possess especially those in public service. The taxpayers are the people that entrusted us to make decisions on their behalf and it is imperative we show respect to the job and the people that have given us the opportunity to serve them.
Sutton – Of course these are all very important.
Mitchell – Candidates for public office should have a history of integrity and lawfulness so constituents have an idea of future actions while in office. As a CFP professional, I have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of my clients. I will give the same consideration as a legislator.
Resman – During the past two sessions, I have answered questions or concerns from irate constituents. Constituents appreciate an honest answer. It offers constituents a greater understanding your support or opposition to an issue. I have often offered to personally meet constituents over coffee.
Gill -Vitally important. Transparency is the most important, because constituents need to be able to know and understand how they are being represented. Some current practices, like not requiring a human sponsor on a bill, hides information from the public. I am against those non-transparent methods.
Would you respond to an irate constituent? If so, how?
Sutton – Of course. If a constituent has an honest concern or question, I always answer. Social media is not the medium to discuss serious concerns, so I prefer to speak in-person, over the phone or by email.
Finley – An individual can only learn when they are willing to listen. First, I would listen to what is being said. Second, I would try to understand what is causing the emotion. Next, I would ask if my understanding of the issue is correct. Finally, I would ask if they have a proposed solution.
Mitchell– Listening is the best way to understand and defuse a situation. I would contact the constituent in order to understand the issue, then try to resolve. Emails are a great tool for communication but can often be misconstrued. I would try to meet with the individual to have a conversation.
Gill – Of course! I would do my best to respond to individual questions, subject to the demands of the office. As long as any discussion remains respectful, productive, and safe, I would be available to hear constituent concerns, and both listen or explain my point of view, if appropriate.
Resman – During the past two sessions, I have answered questions or concerns from irate constituents. Constituents appreciate an honest answer. It offers constituents a greater understanding of your support or opposition to an issue. I have often offered to personally meet constituents over coffee.
Question 3. Education
In recent years the Kansas legislature has been at odds with the state supreme court over constitutionally adequate school funding. Some lawsuits have been funded by taxpayer dollars thru individual school districts, including USD 231.
Should taxpayer funds be used to sue or lobby taxpayers for additional school funding?
Sutton – Absolutely not. Using the people’s money to sue the people for more of their money? Ridiculous.
Finley – It would be redundant to use taxpayer funds to sue taxpayers. We need a strong working relationship with our schools. It would be counterproductive for threats of lawsuits to come between schools and the community.
Mitchell – As a public funded entity, a school district has no other source of revenue to use to ensure proper funding. If constitutionally appropriated funds are not being distributed properly, a school district should be able to have legal recourse.
Resman – Using taxpayer funds to sue or lobby on behalf of school districts takes money out of classrooms. Unfortunately, school districts have only one source of funding. Taxpayers. It’s time to settle this question of funding, let the taxpayers of the State decide whether the Legislators or Supreme Court fund schools.
Gill – USD 231 had expenditures of over 60 million dollars in 2015-16. It’s a significant, constitutionally required, public, enterprise, and if local leadership decides it requires a legal remedy, there are no private dollars the district has available for that purpose, of which I am aware, therefore public dollars are used.
What percent of Kansas’ budgeted education dollars should be allocated directly for teachers and classroom instruction?
Sutton – The current percentage obviously isn’t enough, because we’re not seeing performance improvements. I support Kris Kobach’s plan to raise that level to 75%.
Finley – For a school to obtain and retain qualified teachers it is necessary for salaries to be competitive. Our teachers deserve a sustainable wage therefore this will be the largest part of any budget.
Mitchell – Every dollar within the budget supports teachers and classroom instruction from teacher salaries, to lunch staff, janitorial and administration. One piece can not function alone.
Resman – The Supreme Court recently ruled schools are adequately funded; however, Legislators now must account for inflation. While canvassing the District, and speaking with school employees, I heard many times that the allocation of funds was the problem.
Gill – It would be inefficient for state government to micromanage local school boards, as those elected representatives should know their district budget priorities best.