The Kansas Legislature sorely needs lawmakers who are more committed to the well being of their state and communities than they are to right-wing causes.
Unfortunately, the 2012 elections swept too many ideologues into the Capitol. The result has been bizarre and destructive legislation and national ridicule. Voters have a chance to undo some of the damage in the Aug. 5 primary.
Here are The Star’s recommendations in selected area races:
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District 8: GOP newcomer Stacey L. Schlimmer brings a range of experiences that would be valuable to her work as a legislator. A lawyer and former assistant district attorney, she has served in the U.S. Army and worked in financial services. As a parent, she understands the value of good schools and affordable college tuition.
Incumbent Craig McPherson has been much more supportive of conservative causes than of measures that will help families in his district, which includes parts of Overland Park and Olathe. He was one of only a handful of lawmakers to vote against expanding insurance coverage to help children with autism.
District 16: In this district that includes parts of Overland Park and Lenexa, two Republicans and two Democrats are seeking to oust incumbent Amanda Grosserode, another freshman who voted consistently for measures that benefit special interests and harm the state of Kansas and its families.
On the Republican side, Jameia Haines favors a stronger tax base to support schools and infrastructure, expansion of Medicaid eligibility and leaving the state’s renewable energy standards intact. A lawyer and businesswoman, she is an active public school parent and would be a strong voice for education. Ray J. Marshall is also on the GOP ballot.
For the Democrats, Don McGuire, who is in pharmaceutical sales, is campaigning for a tax structure that would be more fair to middle- and-low income Kansans. He supports better funding for schools. He appears to be a stronger candidate than Arthena Easterwood.
District 19: GOP incumbent Stephanie Clayton has worked tirelessly on behalf of her district, which includes parts of Leawood, Prairie Village and Overland Park. She is an advocate for public school districts and local control, and she has pushed for transparency in the legislative process. Her opponent, Jennifer Flood, supports the continued rollout of the destructive Brownback tax cuts, and seems confused about aspects of state finances.
District 21: Barbara Bollier has been a fighter in the Legislature for high quality public education and strong communities. A retired anesthesiologist, she contributes essential science-based knowledge to legislative debates. Her GOP opponent, Neil Melton, doesn’t seem to comprehend the seriousness of the state’s financial predicament. Bollier does and should return to Topeka to serve her district, which includes parts of Prairie Village and Mission Hills.
District 30: Republican Ron Worley was a strong voice against reckless tax cuts and discriminatory legislation during his three terms in the Kansas House. Unfortunately, he lost his seat to Lance Kinzer after parts of Olathe and Lenexa were redistricted in 2012. Worley deserves to return to the Capitol. His opponent, Randy Powell, supports more dangerous tax cuts and even less money for struggling schools and services.
District 49: Though unduly supportive of tax cuts, incumbent Scott Schwab of Olathe showed an independent streak when he raised pertinent questions about a Koch Industries-backed proposal to repeal Kansas’ renewable energy standards. Because of that, political groups bankrolled by the Kochs are declining to endorse his primary bid. But Schwab is a much better pick to represent his Olathe district than J.H. Wilson, a former Libertarian candidate who wants to see income tax cuts enacted even faster in Kansas.