District 17 candidates respond to top issues in short race

Editor?s note: Because of Jim Barnett?s sudden resignation as state senator from the 17th District, the two candidates most Marion County voters will find on next Tuesday?s ballot to succeed him, Democrat Jerry Karr and Republican Jeff Longbine, have had less than a month to get information to voters on issues of interest.

As we observe the political scene in Kansas, three basic issues seem to be at the forefront:

(1) A healthier economy with job opportunities that will enable our youth to make their livelihood in our rural communities;

(2) Adequate funding to keep our public schools open and on the cutting edge of education;

(3) Responsible management of state government.

We asked each candidate to identify three specific ideas, actions or positions for each of these three basic issues. They were asked to limit their response to no more than 100 words for each specific idea, action or position. Following is what we received from them.


JERRY KARR – Democrat

? Economy and jobs. A healthy economy for Kansas demands:

1. We educate, train and invest in a strong work force that can compete in a world economy and is positioned to work in the growing sectors of alternative energy and bio-technology.

2. More attention must be directed to improved technology in the communication area such as broadband.

3. We have a stable and fair tax structure to allow small business and agriculture related businesses to develop and expand.

? School finances. Adequate funding of public schools, needed to provide our children throughout Kansas with cutting-edge education, demands:

1. Exploration and implementation of new models of education to address distant learning that will provide all schools, regardless of size, with quality programs;

2. Opportunities for additional cooperation between school districts in order to use staff and all resources more efficiently;

3. Additional resources be made available to expand opportunities in post-secondary vocational education.

? Responsible state government. Responsible management of state government requires:

1. Building on our top ranking among all states by further adopting the best management skills used by both the public and private sectors;

2. Expanded efforts in preventive health care for all public employees and citizens receiving medical assistance via Medicaid;

3. Finding ways to reduce duplicated efforts between all levels of government, especially in the areas of health and environment and in the units servicing our infrastructure such as roads and air services.


JEFF LONGBINE – Republican

? Economy and jobs. We must stop the migration of our youth to the metro areas of Kansas or to out of state opportunities. We need to grow private-sector jobs.

My extensive experience in economic development has enabled me to understand that we have to have a competitive tax policy, a reasonable regulatory environment and a strong transportation system.

I believe our best opportunities are with ag and ag-related products, small and mid-size manufacturing, entrepreneurship and small business. The state needs to work with the local governing bodies to coordinate the efforts to attract jobs into Kansas communities.

? School finances. As I have visited with school superintendents throughout the district, I have become aware of the frustrations with the current school finance formula. I think the state needs to give the local school boards more flexibility to move money where it will have the best outcomes.

I do not support moving the funding of education to the local level because of the discrepancy of valuations and mill levies through out the state. I think the state needs to encourage and possibly incentivize districts that share resources and staff. I do not support forced consolidation or closure.

? Responsible state government. My experience as a business person will give me a different perspective on dealing with the budget. I hope to bring innovative solutions and ideas to deal with the financial challenges of Kansas.

I will look to improve productivity and efficiencies within state operations. I will look at investing resources where we can have the greatest return.

I will work hard to ensure that we have a reasonable and responsible government that provides the essential services that are needed by the residents Senate candidate response of the 17th District.

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