The following are The Eagle editorial board’s recommendations for the Aug. 7 primaries for the Kansas House, districts 83 through 89. We offer these recommendations as information to consider as you make up your own mind about the candidates.
The better candidate in the GOP primary to replace retiring Rep. Jo Ann Pottorff in this east Wichita district is no longer actively campaigning. Rodney Wren, a debate and forensics teacher at Wichita Collegiate High School, suspended his campaign earlier this month, complaining of attacks against him and his fiancee. That’s too bad, as he was much more knowledgeable about the issues facing the state than the other candidate, Tim Garvey. The winner will face Democrat Carolyn Bridges in the November general election.
Incumbent Gail Finney, a capable state lawmaker seeking her third term, is the clear choice in this central Wichita district. Her budget priorities would be restoring education cuts, lowering property taxes and ensuring that seniors and those with disabilities have access to needed services. She thinks the tax cuts passed last session were excessive and will hurt the state’s financial stability.
Her opponent, Matthew R. Collins, is not actively campaigning. The winner will face Republican Dan Heflin and Libertarian Gordon Bakken in the general election.
Barry D. Stanley, a retired school administrator and psychologist, is the pick in the northeast Wichita district that includes Bel Aire. Stanley’s priorities include taxes (he opposes Gov. Sam Brownback’s income-tax cuts and favors property-tax cuts), jobs (he wants more infrastructure spending) and education (he wants to reduce class sizes).
His opponent, Rebecca Armstrong, is not campaigning and is supporting Stanley. The winner will face incumbent Republican Steve Brunk in the general election.
Voters in this south Wichita district are fortunate to have two outstanding lawmakers vying for this position. The only problem is that one will have to lose. Our narrow preference is Jim Ward, whose extensive public service experience and communication skills have helped him become a leader in the Legislature.
Ward – an attorney who has served on the Wichita school board and Wichita City Council, and in the Kansas Senate and, since 2003, the Kansas House – is skilled at analyzing issues and articulating clear and concise responses. That’s one reason why he has served as assistant minority leader of the House and chairman of the south-central delegation. He is also the ranking minority member on the House Education Committee.
Ward’s priorities are jobs and job creation. He spearheaded an effort last session to cut property taxes (which also led to accusations by some Republicans that he misled them) and pushed for more oversight of the KanCare reform.
Ward currently represents District 88, but redistricting placed him in District 86.
Six-term incumbent Judith Loganbill is also an excellent choice. She is hardworking and effective, particularly on committees. Loganbill, who is a teacher, always does her homework and is skilled at examining the details of bills. She is the ranking minority member on the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, where she has been a valuable voice on women’s issues. Her priorities are education, jobs and the economy.
Democratic voters can’t go wrong in this race, though it could be tough to choose.
The winner will face Republican John Stevens and Libertarian James Pruden in November.
First-time candidate Patricia M. Sloop is the choice in this southeast Wichita district. A retired clinical social worker and college instructor, Sloop would focus on restoring funding to education and making tax rates more progressive. She is smart, informed and wants to be a “voice of reason” in Topeka.
Her opponent, Jason Zabel, is not actively campaigning. The winner will face Republican Joseph Scapa, a first-term representative for District 87 who was shifted to District 88 by redistricting.
Three ministers are vying to replace retiring Rep. Melody McCray-Miller in this northeast Wichita district. Roderick A. Houston, pastor of Mt. Olive Tabernacle of Praise Church, is our pick because of his connections to the community and balanced approach to governing. Houston’s priorities include restoring funding for education, reducing property taxes and protecting services for seniors and the disabled. He also would like to see more opportunities and support for small businesses. He is a lifelong Wichitan who has been involved in the Greater Wichita Ministerial League, Central Kansas Prison Ministry, and other programs and ministries.
David P. Hansen, a retired pastor and conference minister for the United Church of Christ, is also a good candidate who has a solid grasp of the issues facing the state. He has been active in worker justice and would support stronger enforcement of minimum-wage laws. He supports more progressive tax rates and lower property taxes.
Peggy L. Elliott is a minister and business consultant on diversity issues. She calls herself “a person of action” who wants to restore integrity and morality in politics. She also supports more job training. Elliott describes herself as a traditional Democrat, though she has been registered as a Republican in the recent past and spoke at a tea party rally in Wichita in 2010.
The primary winner will face Republican Emanuel Banks in the general election.