Both candidates running for the open House seat in District 89 say they want to help others overcome their circumstances and deal with government bureaucracy.
Emanuel Banks, a Republican, and the Rev. Roderick Houston, a Democrat, seek to replace Democratic Rep. Melody McCray-Miller, who did not run for re-election. District 89 includes parts of northeast Wichita, Park City and Kechi.
Banks, 42, who has run for the House before, became blind when he was 30. The father of four was trained in computers but is now a full-time student majoring in holistic health care.
“We can suffer through life,” Banks said. “But with help and perseverance, you will eventually succeed. I want the people here to be successful.”
Houston, 50, says he also has a heart for the people. He worked in security at Wichita public schools for 25 years and has been pastor of Mount Olive Tabernacle of Praise Church of God in Christ for eight years. He defeated two other Democrats for the party’s nomination in the August primary.
A tax warrant issued in 2009 by the state Department of Revenue sought a little more than $7,000 from Houston for 2005 and 2006 taxes, records show. Houston said that stemmed from miscommunication between the person who did his taxes and the state. He said he paid off the amount as soon as he was aware of the issue, in July 2009.
“We hope that we can help people in similar situations,” he said. “There are a lot of people that need some help.”
The candidates differ on Gov. Sam Brownback’s plan to cut income taxes.
Banks is happy with the cuts, although he thinks the sales tax should be cut more gradually than what is planned.
“I do not believe you should be taxed for your work,” Banks said.
Houston said the governor’s tax cuts are a mistake.
“The tax plan is not good for all Kansans,” he said. “The middle class, the working class and the lower class will pay more taxes. They will lose some benefits and lose some tax credits.”
Houston labels himself a Democrat. Banks calls himself a Constitutionalist.
“I believe in limited government, which means that the government is not involved in all aspects of life,” Banks said.
Both candidates say they want what they think is best for students in the area and throughout the state. But they differ on approach.
Both view a state balanced budget as a must. But Houston sees this balanced budget opening up funds for education. He wants to give teachers higher pay and fewer students. He also wants to make sure each new teacher has a mentor, which he feels will ensure they stay in the profession.
Banks said he wants to eliminate the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind act and give teachers “more say in their curriculum and more power in the classroom.”
Banks and Houston are both graduates of West High School; Houston also attended East High School.
They agree that education is paramount to success, and both want to see students achieve in both the K-12 system and the post-secondary arena.
Both candidates also agree that post-secondary education will help attract businesses to Wichita and Kansas. But they have differing opinions about other factors that could help draw employers to the area.
Banks said he wants to remove tax incentives; Houston said incentives would be negotiable.
Both candidates say property taxes should not increase.
And the two Wichita natives agree on the strength of the family and legislation that helps the underserved.
Houston said the best piece of legislation signed into Kansas law this year is Caylee’s Law, prompted by the disappearance and death in Florida of Caylee Anthony.
“This bill makes it a crime for failing to report the disappearance of a child and failure to report the death of a child,” he said. “I advocate for young people and juvenile justice.”