District 98 candidates face off in Sedgwick County’s only Democratic primary race

07/24/2014 5:06 PM

07/24/2014 5:08 PM

Eric Bell and Steven Crum square off in District 98 for the only local Democratic primary race in Sedgwick County.

The winner will face Republican Steve Anthimides in November. Anthimides was appointed to the seat late last year to replace Phil Hermanson, who resigned and moved out of the Haysville-south Wichita district after getting married.

Bell, who lives in Wichita, said he works in order fulfillment for an oil and tire distributor. He has served on the district advisory board in Wichita City Council District 3.

Crum, who lives in Haysville, is a teacher and coach in the Haysville School District. He is a Haysville City Council member.

Both say school funding is the biggest issue facing the state.

Bell says schools should be fully funded. The state should “bolster public education funding to lure businesses to our talent pool and eliminate tax breaks for our wealthiest citizens that don’t make financial sense,” he said in response to The Eagle’s voter guide questionnaire.

Crum, who was endorsed by the Kansas National Education Association, says the current fix for education funding is “just a bandage; and not a very good one at that. Representatives need to go back and look at the tax code changes made two years ago.”

Both are in favor of expanding Medicaid in Kansas.

Both candidates have experienced financial issues.

Commerce Bank has filed garnishment orders against Bell for a debt of $10,758.

Bell said that the bank filed the orders against accounts that had been closed and that no garnishment was in place. He said the matter was still being litigated and declined to talk about it further.

“I’m going to reserve any comment on that for right now,” he said.

Fidelity Bank sued Crum and his wife, Paige, for foreclosure. The couple was forced to vacate the home in 2007, facing more than $100,000 in debts to the bank.

Crum said the foreclosure occurred after his wife left her job at Newman University in order to care for her father, who had a heart attack in 2005 and was suffering from health problems. Medical bills coupled with the loss of income drove the family into foreclosure, he said.

He added that the experience helps form his legislative priorities.

“There’s no reason why somebody who has a full-time job – a teaching job, a professional job – should end up not being able to support their family and stay in a house,” Crum said. He said if elected he would work for legislation that reduces the cost of living for low- and middle-income Kansans.

He said the debts have been settled and that he and his wife just signed papers to buy a new house in Haysville.

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