With Rep. Ronald Schieber leaving his post to be the Platte County presiding commissioner, his seat is open for someone new.
Former North Kansas City school board member Kevin Corlew and business owner Stephanie Isaacson both want to represent the 14th District, which includes part of Clay and Platte counties.
State tax credits have been the subject of debate in recent years, as some lawmakers have tried to rein them in.
Corlew, a Republican, said lawmakers should regularly review tax credits, but he favors their use for historic preservation and low-income housing projects.
He also said tax credits for charitable causes could motivate the private sector to help disadvantaged people.
Isaacson, the Democratic candidate, said Missouri’s status as the leader in this area is something to “be proud of.”
“These tax credits promote job creation in the construction sector, help to provide quality affordable housing, and attract new jobs to the area through retail space, medical facilities, etc.,” she said.
While discussing tax credits, Corlew criticized Isaacson in light of recent publicity involving her company, New Horizons. A construction union has sued the New Horizons, alleging it didn’t pay workers prevailing wages on public projects and later retaliated when they complained. The lawsuit is pending.
Isaacson said her company does do work on public projects and pays the prevailing wage when it’s required, and still pays well over minimum wage when it isn’t.
“I think there needs to be more enforcement of prevailing wage issues on public projects,” she said.
But prevailing wages weren’t required for the project in question, she said.
“The project was for a private developer out of New Jersey,” she said. “No public dollars were used to pay New Horizons on this project.”
She estimated that about 10 percent of her company’s work is done on projects that are eligible for tax credits.
The candidates differ on other issues, too.
Isaacson said a significant number of “underemployed” people need Medicaid but don’t qualify for it. And she said people are concerned that Missouri, by not expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, is missing an opportunity to create jobs while sending federal money elsewhere.
Corlew doesn’t support wholesale Medicaid expansion yet. He wants more price transparency and is interested in creating “state-based” methods for enhancing the system.
“The Medicaid system needs to be fixed before we consider a substantial expansion,” he said.
Both candidates would examine limits on campaign contributions and on gifts to legislators from lobbyists.
“I’ve pledged not to accept gifts or meals from lobbyists, not even a cup of coffee,” Isaacson said.
Corlew said that while recognizing free speech and “appropriate political activity,” he would be open to looking at limiting gifts that could “inappropriately influence” elected officials.
“I would consider strengthening the public-disclosure requirements,” he said.
On abortion, Corlew said the state’s new 72-hour waiting period was a “reasonable measure designed to protect young mothers.”
Isaacson said voters are unhappy to see elected officials focus on issues like abortion instead of the economy and job creation.
“With only one clinic in Missouri performing abortions, forcing further regulations and at the expense of victims of rape or incest, this is not where the focus of our legislature should be,” she said.
REPUBLICAN Kevin Corlew
Address: 5317 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City
Education: Law degree, University of Nebraska; bachelor’s of arts, Columbia College Chicago
Previous public experience: North Kansas City school board, 2013-2014
Address: PO Box 68111
Occupation: Owns New Horizons, LLC; environmental scientist
Education: MBA, Baker University; masters in water resources, Iowa State University; bachelor’s in natural resources, University of Nebraska
Previous public experience: None