State representative candidates on the issues: What separates you from your opponent?


Today we run the responses from the candidates for Kansas state representative seats in northeast Johnson County to the final question submitted by our readers.

What are the three most important differences between you and your opponent?

Stephanie Clayton 2014Stephanie Clayton – District 19 incumbent

I’d like to begin by stating how much I respect my opponent, who has always been an active constituent who has communicated her positive thoughts regarding my votes as her representative.
One of the things that sets me apart is the frequency and level of openness with which I communicate with my constituents. During Session, I send a weekly newsletter that provides my perspective on the events that transpire, I live-tweet Floor proceedings, as well as most Caucus discussions and selected committee proceedings, I host a monthly forum, and I personally return all constituent correspondence. My ultimate goal is to make the legislative process as transparent and accessible as possible- but that had to begin with me.
I am the only legislative member of the Shawnee Mission Delegation who has a child in public school. This gives me a direct line to how education policy changes affect our students, and it also affords me the opportunity to understand what other parents are going through- especially those who are frustrated by large class sizes- because what happens to their children also happens to mine. When I look at state policy, I see things through the lens of a young parent- a demographic that isn’t very well-represented in most legislatures.
I have a proven record as someone who makes the difficult choice because it is the right thing to do for my district. I will make the moral choice regarding legislation, even with the knowledge that I will be punished for doing so. I am proud of the choices that I have made, and it has all been worth it. Thank you for allowing me the tremendous opportunity to serve you. It has truly been a joy, and I thank you all for considering me for a second term.

Pat Stratton 2014Patricia Stratton – District 19 candidate

I am not sure of Stephanie’s views on all these subjects.  We are probably not terribly different.  However, I suspect I am more concerned about having a fair tax code and maintaining the services provided by the state.  Also, since I am a Democrat, I will be able to help Paul Davis pass bills in the legislature.



Amy Bell 2014Amy Bell – District 21 candidate

1. I deeply respect Rep. Bollier and agree with her on many issues, but I strongly believe that the Brownback administration has been leading the Republican Party, and the State as a whole, in the wrong direction. In the upcoming legislative session I believe that it is important that we have representation that will caucus with the opposition.
2. My family has a lot at stake with education policy. I have a three-year-old son who will be starting kindergarten in 2016. It is important to me that he be able to attend a public school that is fully equipped to provide him with a strong foundation for his future.
3. I take a strong stance in favor of the general population over corporate interests. This includes opposition to the unbalanced tax policy that puts the burden of the State budget on the backs of employees, and support for our small business community over large corporate interests.

Barbara Bollier 2014Barbara Bollier – District 21 incumbent

The first difference of note would be my experience. I have served in the Legislature for five years and thus have an excellent working knowledge of the system. Since becoming a Representative I have worked extensively to educate myself on the multitudes of issues that are part of Kansas policy. My time on the education committee has allowed me to become an “expert” on the school funding formula, which is a crucial element for our district. I also have established relationships with many different people in Topeka, including legislators in both parties and lobbyists and policymakers from a wide variety of businesses and organizations. Those relationships take time to build and are invaluable to the legislative process. Experience is a great bonus when working in Topeka!

The next difference that comes to mind is my medical degree. The great education that I received at KU School of Medicine has been critical to my abilities to study issues, analyze data, and understand the needs of the people. My contribution to the House Health Committee is essential as a former provider of medical care. As the state continues to provide health care through Medicaid, providers need to be at the table to ensure that patients’ needs are met and that quality remains the focus. I will be the only physician in the legislature this upcoming session, and that voice needs to be represented.

The third difference would be my availability. My children are grown. My husband is busy with his own career. I can give completely of myself to representing the people of District 21. Even though Kansas has a “part-time” legislature, I consider this a full-time job and feel that the people deserve a representative who can devote that amount of time to the job.

Brandon Hermreck 2014Brandon Hermreck – District 24 candidate

My opponent will vote to raise taxes by any means necessary. He would vote to send more of our tax dollars out west to other districts rather than keeping our dollars here for our local schools and children.  He favors education policy to be dictated from Topeka rather than allowing our SMSD teachers, parents, and school board make decisions that reflect our community.



Jarrod Ousley 2014Jarrod Ousley – District 24 candidate

On October 14th, the Kansas City Star ran a voter guide on the 24th District, and noted that my opponent and I are polar opposites on every issue.
1) We recently become a three generation household, when my father moved in with us.  I can see the effects of policy and funding, not only on my children and their school, but on my father, as he is leery of what may become of Medicare in Kansas.  My opponent supports the Medicare Compact, which threatens to dismantle Medicare in Kansas, giving the state control over those funds.

2) Since elementary school I have lived in, or immediately adjacent to, the 24th District.  I attended Shawnee Mission schools from first grade through graduation, and I am a product of my community.  I care about our neighborhoods and the people in them, as they are my family, friends, and clients.  The core of our communities are our public schools, and my family has worked tirelessly to protect them.  My opponent appears unaware of our school funding crises, as he failed to mention that as a priority to the Star.

3) I have owned and operated a small paint contracting business for the last 13 years.  I have weathered the recession, and know how vital it is to support small businesses and to support  working families.  That’s why I support Paul Davis’ plan to freeze further income tax cuts that benefit the few at the expense of the many.  My opponent not only supports Brownback’s tax plan, he stated he thought the tax cuts should go further, and be extended to cover corporations and other businesses.  The middle class cannot shoulder the tax burden alone.  I completely disagree with my opponent on this issue.

Jennifer Robinson 2014Jennifer Robinson – District 25 candidate

For starters, I believe the most important election this year is not who wins the 25th District House seat, but rather who is setting the direction of our state as Governor.
As a Democrat, I am proud to be on the same team as Paul Davis and a slate of others who are working every day to raise awareness about the radical policies of our current Governor, Sam Brownback, and those who control the Legislature. Together, we are working to ensure that Governor Brownback, Kris Kobach and their allies are not in power one day longer than is necessary.
I am also free to be openly critical of an administration and a Republican supermajority that has attacked women and gay people, made historic cuts to education, and created an unnecessary and dangerous budget crisis.
Finally, I will also vote for a pro-education, moderate Speaker of the House. The current speaker, Ray Merrick, has consistently been one of the biggest opponents of public education in the Legislature.
This is not the time for silence. I invite you to join me in rejecting extremism and begin the work of Restoring Kansas by casting your vote for me at the ballot box. If elected, I will be true to the values of this district. I will work tirelessly for strong funding for education, fairness in our tax code, equality for all our citizens, and be a bold voice for those who have been trampled by the policies of the last few years.

Melissa Rooker 2014Melissa Rooker – District 25 incumbent

The three key differences between us are experience, relationships and a bi-partisan approach. I was elected in 2012 with the promise to listen to all sides before making up my mind, think for myself rather than simply rubber stamping a particular political agenda, and fight for common sense solutions to the problems facing ordinary Kansans.  I stand by my voting record as evidence that I have lived up to that promise.  I have fought for increased local control for our public schools, increased funding for Shawnee Mission schools, and key new investments for higher education and the KU Medical Center, specifically funding for a new medical education building. I voted to protect Medicare coverage for our seniors, voted to protect the successful wind energy sector of our economy, and voted to protect our independent judiciary.  Along the way, I have cultivated relationships with fellow lawmakers across the state and worked diligently to breakdown the barriers between Johnson County and the rest of Kansas.  I am considered a consensus builder and the foundation of trust I have forged with many of my colleagues pays dividends when debating difficult issues.  The 25th District cannot afford to elect a rookie to deal with the serious problems facing our state in the session ahead.  Having experience on the job, a network of contacts, a handle on who the appropriate issue experts are when research is needed, relationships in place to facilitate negotiations, and a willingness to work across party lines to solve the serious problems we face as a state, I believe I am uniquely qualified to represent the district.

Read answers to previous questions published this week:
Monday: Views on gun laws in Kansas
Tuesday: Increasing money for schools
Wednesday: Shortfalls in tax revenue
Thursday: The economic engine of Johnson County