The following are The Eagle editorial board’s recommendations for the Nov. 8 general election for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Sedgwick County Commission, Sedgwick County sheriff, judicial retention and constitutional amendment. We offer these recommendations as information to consider as you make up your own mind about the candidates. Additional candidate information can be found in The Eagle’s online Voters Guide at Kansas.com/politics. Kansas House and Senate endorsements are online at Kansas.com/opinion/editorials.
Incumbent Republican Jerry Moran is the clear pick and deserves to return to the Senate. Moran is dependable and responsible and has never lost his connection to Kansas. He is a voice of calm and reason in an increasingly partisan and polarized Congress.
Democrat Patrick Wiesner is making his third run for the Senate. A tax attorney and CPA, Wiesner’s priorities include reducing the national debt and simplifying the tax code.
Also running is Libertarian Robert D. Garrard.
4th Congressional District
Incumbent Republican Mike Pompeo is the best choice for this south-central Kansas district that includes Sedgwick County. Pompeo is a true believer in a free market and smaller government, yet he is also pragmatic enough to know that change sometimes requires incremental steps. He stands out as one of the few lawmakers to actually get legislation through both chambers and signed into law. That’s a testament to his diligence and preparation, and his willingness to find common ground. Pompeo also has emerged as an influential voice on intelligence gathering and foreign policy matters. Unfortunately, that has also made him appear partisan and strident at times. Pompeo is at his best when he is methodically working to pass legislation and solve problems important to Kansas.
Democrat Daniel B. Giroux is also a capable candidate. An attorney who serves on a number of local boards, Giroux is frustrated with gridlock in Congress and the failure to deal with long-standing problems, such as entitlement reform. He isn’t in lockstep with the Democratic Party and could be a valuable independent voice in Congress.
Independent Miranda Allen is also frustrated with a system paralyzed by partisan bickering. “Fighting with each other is not helping America,” she said. Also running is Libertarian Gordon Bakken.
1st Congressional District
Republican Roger Marshall is the top candidate vying to represent this vast district that includes most of western, central and north-central Kansas, including Hutchinson and Salina. He defeated incumbent Tim Huelskamp in the GOP primary. Though Marshall is as conservative as Huelskamp on many issues, he pledges to work with others to get things done. Marshall has a wide range of business and public service experience, including managing a medical practice, serving as board chairman of the Great Bend Regional Hospital and serving on the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission. He is hopeful that he would be appointed to the House Agriculture Committee, if elected. Other priorities include reducing the national debt and adequately funding and supporting national security.
Independent Alan LaPolice ran for this office two years ago as a Republican, losing a close primary race to Huelskamp. He initially filed again as a Republican before switching to an independent. He is smart and earnest and describes himself as an Eisenhower conservative. He says that not having the “shackle of the party label” would help him bridge the partisan divide.
Libertarian Kerry Burt is also on the ballot but has suspended his campaign.
Sedgwick County Commission
Incumbent Democrat Tim Norton is the clear choice in this district that includes south Wichita, Haysville and Clearwater. Norton has extensive experience in both the private and public sectors. He served nine years on the Haysville City Council and four years as mayor of Haysville. He managed a Wichita Target store for 19 years before resigning in 1999 to devote himself full time to the cleanup and recovery of Haysville after a devastating tornado. He has been a dedicated and effective Sedgwick County commissioner for the past 16 years. Norton is a leader on many issues, including public health and child abuse prevention. He is particularly skilled at working with other stakeholders to find solutions. Lately, he has been a voice of reason on a sometimes unreasonable commission. His voice and experience are still needed.
Republican Michael O’Donnell served part of one term on the Wichita City Council and one term in the Kansas Senate. His short tenures have included controversies about whether he lived and paid rent in the district he represented and how he provided alcohol for a party attended by underage Wichita State University students. He is ambitious but lacks the maturity and proven record of Norton.
Republican David Dennis is the better choice of two excellent candidates in this district that includes northwest Wichita and most of western Sedgwick County. Dennis, who defeated incumbent Karl Peterjohn in the August GOP primary, is a retired colonel with the U.S. Air Force who has extensive experience in managing people and budgets. He also has worked as a public school teacher in Wichita, was chairman of the Kansas State Board of Education, and has served on a city of Wichita district advisory board and on the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission. His priorities include better management of the county budget and economic development. He would provide pragmatic, responsible leadership to the commission.
Independent Marcey Gregory, who ran for this seat eight years ago as a Democrat, also would be a good commissioner. She is mayor of Goddard and has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Regional Economic Area Partnership. She believes the biggest issue facing the county is sluggish economic growth, and that public and private partnerships, such as Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus, are a key to business growth and retention.
Sedgwick County Sheriff
Incumbent Republican Jeff Easter is the clear choice and should remain as sheriff. Prior to being elected in 2012, he served 27 years with the Wichita Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office, including 15 years in management. He has been a steady, capable and accessible leader. He deserved to be re-elected.
Democrat Jefrey Weinman, a retired Wichita police officer, first ran for this office in 2012, saying that God asked him to run. He lacks the background for this top law enforcement job.
Kansas Supreme Court, Court of Appeals
Ballot questions on whether to retain Kansas Supreme Court justices and Kansas Court of Appeals judges normally draw little attention. But this year, these decisions are among the most important and contested.
All of the justices and judges should be retained.
Most of the focus has been on the five Supreme Court justices on the ballot – Carol A. Beier, Dan Biles, Marla Luckert, Lawton R. Nuss and Caleb Stegall. Four of them have been portrayed by some as “activists” who put their personal biases above the law. But all these justices have performed their difficult jobs with care and integrity. The same is also true of the six Court of Appeals judges on the ballot – Steve Leben, G. Joseph Pierron Jr., David E. Bruns, G. Gordon Atcheson, Karen Arnold-Burger and Kathryn A. Gardner.
That’s also the conclusion of legal professionals in the state. The Kansas Judicial Evaluation Committee surveyed attorneys who have practiced before the appellate justices and judges, as well as law professors and other legal experts. Respondents overwhelmingly supported retaining the justices and judges.
Most of the organized opposition has centered on the Supreme Court’s order to hold separate sentencing trials for the Carr brothers (which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned). But well-financed groups are also hoping to use this emotional case to reshape the courts so that they will, as Gov. Sam Brownback once reportedly remarked, “vote the way we want them to.”
Brownback and his allies in the Legislature already changed how the Court of Appeals judges are appointed, and the Supreme Court Nominating Commission now appears to have a majority of members who are loyal to Brownback and his agenda. Enabling Brownback to pack the courts would undermine the independence of the judiciary and be bad for Kansas.
The Eagle editorial board has long held that the Kansas Constitution should be amended only for the most serious and pressing of reasons. The proposed amendment to establish a constitutional right to hunt and fish does not rise to this level. Though the editorial board strongly supports hunting and fishing, there is no threat to these pursuits and no need to amend our constitution.