The following are The Eagle editorial board’s recommendations for the Aug. 7 primaries for the Kansas Senate. We offer these recommendations as information to consider as you make up your own mind about the candidates.
Incumbent Jean Kurtis Schodorf is the clear choice in this central-west Wichita district.
Schodorf has been an effective and dependable senator during her 12 years in office. She has championed local priorities, including the affordable airfares program and the National Institute for Aviation Research. As chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, Schodorf has been an invaluable supporter and defender of public education, even as she has pushed for reforms. Her priorities include strong schools, economic development and fiscal responsibility.
Schodorf also has deep connections with the community. A speech and language pathologist who has a doctorate from Wichita State University, Schodorf served on the Wichita school board for 12 years, including three years as president, and has been active in civic groups.
Schodorf has been a much-needed voice of reason and restraint in the Legislature.
Her challenger is Michael O’Donnell, who is in his first term on the Wichita City Council. His priority is growing jobs and making Kansas a more attractive place for business. He is enthusiastic and ambitious but lacks Schodorf’s experience and balance.
The winner will face the winner of the Democratic primary and Libertarian Dave Thomas.
Perry Schuckman is a strong candidate and the best pick in this Democratic primary. He is the executive director of the Kansas Nonprofit Chamber of Service and has extensive experience with social service work. He has been active in politics and has a good grasp of the issues. He supports lower taxes and smaller government but doesn’t back Gov. Sam Brownback’s “trickle-down” approach to tax cuts. Schuckman is a good communicator and concerned about the lack of civility in politics.
His opponent is Timothy L. Snow, who has gone back to college but has run small businesses in the past. He is passionate and concerned about a conservative GOP takeover of state government.
The winner will face the winner of the Republican primary and Libertarian Dave Thomas.
One-term incumbent Dick Kelsey of Goddard is a no-nonsense fiscal conservative who cares about social services and programs for the disadvantaged. He is tough and independent and deserves to be re-elected in this west Sedgwick County district.
Kelsey’s voice and experience were particularly valuable this past session, as he resisted a misguided push by the Brownback administration to off-load the long-term care of developmentally disabled Kansans to out-of-state insurance companies. He also developed a reform plan that would have cut income taxes without creating budget deficits.
Because he refuses to be a rubber stamp, Kelsey has been targeted for defeat by the Governor’s Office and the Kansas and Wichita chambers of commerce. But it is difficult for them to cite any specific fault with Kelsey, who is staunchly pro-life and has never voted for a tax increase.
His challenger is Dan Kerschen, a state representative from Garden Plain. Kerschen, who is a farmer and crop-production specialist, has been a valuable voice on agriculture and water issues. It’s too bad he is leaving the House to challenge Kelsey.
No Democrat is running for this seat.
Oletha Faust-Goudeau’s productive first term as the first African-American woman elected to the Senate makes her the clear choice in this north Wichita district. She worked across the aisle to pass two bills strengthening grandparents’ legal rights in child-in-need-of-care cases, and also passed a law this year to extend health insurance coverage for families of firefighters who die in the line of duty. If re-elected, she’d pursue legislation to help small and minority- and woman-owned businesses, and people who’ve lost legal guardianship of their elderly parents. She wants to continue advocating for job creation and education. “A learning mind has no time for crime,” she said.
Faust-Goudeau was at the center of two troubling controversies last year – whether she asked for special treatment during traffic stops and regarding housing code violations. But she has taken pains to explain and apologize for her actions. Neither issue should overshadow her effectiveness in the Senate.
The other Democrat is K.C. Ohaebosim, who lost to Faust-Goudeau in 2008. He would bring a passion to serve and some valuable civic experience to the job, but lacks Faust-Goudeau’s experience and grasp of the issues.
The winner will face Republican Kenya Cox and Libertarian Carl Kramer in November.
Two-term incumbent Carolyn McGinn is a stellar lawmaker and should be re-elected to represent north Sedgwick County and Harvey County. As chairwoman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, McGinn has been perfectly positioned to fight for local priorities and responsible budgeting – which she has done very effectively. She is tough and won’t be pushed around during budget battles.
McGinn also has been a champion of water-quality issues, including Wichita’s aquifer recharge project. And her experience as a former Sedgwick County commissioner has given her valuable insight into how state laws can affect local governments and services. Because she is a family farmer, she also understands the needs of rural residents.
It’s difficult to think of a more responsible and valuable area state lawmaker than McGinn.
Her challenger, Gary Mason, is also smart and capable. Though this is his first time running for public office, he has been very involved in politics, spearheading the political activity of the local and state chambers of commerce. Mason owns iSi Environmental and believes in cutting taxes and spending to create a better climate for job growth. Instead of him moving into this district to challenge McGinn, the region would have been better served if Mason had run in the district where he lived.
No Democrat is seeking this seat.