Fourth Congressional District candidates Mike Pompeo and Raj Goyle expressed divergent views on federal support for charities in a forum Wednesday sponsored by Wichita nonprofit groups.
Goyle promised to use the power of a congressional office to assist charities in their dealings with government. Pompeo said he'd prefer a more limited federal role in social services — but acknowledged practical difficulties would make that almost impossible to achieve quickly.
The candidates appeared together briefly at the forum sponsored by the Nonprofit Chamber of Service, an organization of local charities. Following the chamber's forum format, each candidate spoke and answered questions with his opponent out of the room — although they were asked mostly the same questions.
One of those questions had to do with how the candidates view the relationship between the federal government and local charitable organizations.
Pompeo, a Republican national committeeman, said that he would like to move toward a system in which charities wouldn't need to lobby Washington for funds to operate in their communities.
"I would truly love to put charitable organizations in a place where they could get much closer to where the resources they were relying on and that the demands, the services, the customers they were trying to meet the needs of, were more local," Pompeo said.
However, he said he also recognizes that it's unrealistic to expect nonprofits, many of which have built their systems and policies around federal funding, to go "cold turkey" and try to raise all their money locally.
"It's neither possible nor proper," he said.
Goyle, a Democratic state representative, promised to take a more activist role toward charities.
"As a member of Congress I would view my job as to be your champion in Washington to get things to make your organizations succeed as much as they can," he said. "If there is information that you need, you need to call us and we'll get that to you right away. If there's red tape to be cut, I'd view that as my job. If there are pieces of legislation or regulations that are being implemented that need help from a member of Congress, that I view as my job."
He said charities "not only provide great services, but they help grow a diverse and wonderful community and they also help grow our economy."
The chamber members were polite to both candidates but were clearly more sympathetic toward Goyle, who advocates public-private partnerships to get things done, than they were toward Pompeo, who advocates a smaller government.
After the forum, June Huie of Advocates to End Chronic Homelessness said she wanted more specific plans from both candidates.
She said they mostly talked about what they'd like to do, but "the bottom line is, I'm waiting for the 'how.' "
Reform Party candidate Susan Ducey was introduced at the event and sat with Pompeo and Goyle at the candidate table during the preliminaries, but did not get to present her views in the forum. Libertarian Shawn Smith also seeks the 4th District seat.