COVID-19 impact on jobs, state budget highlighted at 18th House District primary forum

Republican candidates Cathy Gordon and Calvin Vandegrift are vying to face incumbent Democratic Rep. Cindy Neighbor but Gordon was featured at the forum alone as Vandergrift did not respond to requests to participate. Above, a file photo of downtown Shawnee.

The COVID-19 pandemic and related economic shutdowns was a strong theme during a July 15 virtual forum and spurred discussions about jobs, K-12 funding and the state budget.  The virtual forum for 18th Kansas House of Representatives District was hosted by the Johnson County Public Policy Council.

Republican candidates Cathy Gordon and Calvin Vandegrift are vying to face incumbent Democratic Rep. Cindy Neighbor but Gordon attended the forum alone. Shawnee Chamber staff said they attempted to reach Vandegrift multiple times and invite him to participate but did not receive a response.

A collaboration of local chambers of commerce, the Johnson County Public Policy Council is hosting a series of forums and one-on-one interviews with primary candidates ahead of the Aug. 4 primary election. The Shawnee Chamber of Commerce partnered with the council to co-host the 18th House District primary forum, as the 18th House District encompasses eastern Shawnee. Joe Riedel with the Shawnee Chamber moderated.

Gordon’s opening statement begins at 4:20.

Here are the questions and Gordon’s subsequent responses, paired with the timestamps of her remarks.

What do you see as the top three business policy issues facing the state of Kansas in the coming year? 6:54

How would you propose to balance the state budget? What specific budget cuts would you support, and what revenue enhancements would you consider, if any? 8:19

Earlier, you had just briefly touched on labor forces. What would you do to grow and develop the state’s workforce? 9:55

Can you share with us your views on K-12 funding? 11:28

What type of economic development policies will you support to encourage job growth and business expansion in Kansas? 13:14

What are your views on healthcare policy and Medicaid expansion in Kansas? 14:40

What are your views on state tax policy? 16:17

What do you believe most distinguishes you from your opponent? 17:25

Any additional comments? 18:53