In the last few weeks, local voters have seen a tsunami of televised political advertisements and emptied mail boxes full of campaign fliers containing scary headlines and misleading information.
On Tuesday — finally — it will be time to go to the polls in Kansas and Missouri to select the winners in a host of important primaries and make decisions on how to spend tax dollars in the Kansas City area.
The Star will print a slate of recommendations on Tuesday for selected contests in the region.
Today, let’s review several hot-button races and issues.
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Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback isn’t on Tuesday’s ballot; his second and final term ends in early 2019.
But the House and Senate Republican primaries in Johnson County have been full of talk about Brownback and the economic and social policies he has put in place in the state.
Simply put, a group of moderate GOP candidates disagree vehemently with those tactics — especially the revenue-draining 2012 income tax cuts — and are running to get rid of more than a dozen conservative fellow Republicans.
The challengers properly are disturbed by continued cuts under Brownback and the current Legislature in state services, including highway repairs, and by the uncertainty that swirls around K-12 public school funding and public pensions.
The Star has recommended a slate of Republican candidates who appear prepared to be more realistic about how to raise revenue to provide better services for 3 million Kansans.
11th District: John Skubal
21st District: Dinah Sykes
8th District: Patty Markley
14th District: Leesa Gabel
15th District: Kim Palcic
17th District: Tom Cox
20th District: Jan Kessinger
21st District: Dorothy Hughes
27th District: Timothy James Harmon
28th District: Joy Koesten
30th District: James Dingwerth
38th District: Mitra Templin
39th District: Shelee Brim
43rd District: Donald Roberts
78th District: Ron Ryckman
The most vigorously contested race is on the Republican side. Four well-funded candidates are slinging mud at one another in debates and advertisements, all while holding similar positions in favor of more guns, fewer abortions and no tax increases.
The Star has recommended Catherine Hanaway, a former federal prosecutor and speaker of the Missouri House.
While all the candidates have blunt and even dire assessments about the state’s current fortunes, Hanaway has done the best job of offering proposals to deal with the problems — from bolstering the troubled University of Missouri System to making needed road upgrades.
Hanaway and the other candidates — Eric Greitens, John Brunner and Peter Kinder — have spent tens of millions of dollars on mean-spirited TV ads, often touting their abilities to blow things up or fire the biggest guns.
None of that really matters, of course, when it comes to guiding the Show-Me State in the next four years.
The winner of the GOP primary likely will face Democrat Chris Koster, easily the most qualified on that side of the political spectrum, to replace Gov. Jay Nixon next January.
Just say ‘no’
Voters in four of Jackson County’s largest cities — Independence, Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs and Raytown — will see a rather odd Question 1 on their ballots.
It will ask them if they want to “discontinue” collecting a local sales tax when buyers get their titles for new or used motor vehicles, trailers and boats bought from sources other than a licensed Missouri dealer.
The Star recommends a “no” vote on the question.
First, getting rid of the tax would reduce those cities’ general fund revenue, which the cities use to provide basic services such as public safety. This tax is already being collected, so voting “no” would not be a tax increase.
Second, eliminating the tax would unfairly benefit out-of-state dealers because Missouri-side buyers no longer would have to pay a local sales tax when titling their vehicles and boats in Missouri. (State sales taxes and other levies will still have to be paid.) Meanwhile, dealers in the Show-Me State would be put at a competitive disadvantage because buyers would have to pay full taxes on their purchases in Missouri.
Missouri State Senate
While most Statehouse races on the Missouri side have been tame so far, the 11th District state Senate contest is a political barn burner.
The Star recommends Jessica Podhola in the primary in a race that also features state Rep. John Rizzo. Both have taken core Democratic positions on protecting union workers and supporting expanded health care.
Overall, Podhola offers a stronger view on true ethics reform in Missouri government aimed at getting at least some of the special-interest money out of politics in the state.
Podhola also is testing the theory that voters want newcomers like her to clean up the messes created by experienced politicians like Rizzo at the state level.