Healthcare, school funding and the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic were some of the main highlights from the Shawnee Mission Post’s first candidate forum ahead of the November general election.
The Post kicked off its series of 19 forums with the Shawnee-area Kansas Senate District 10 race, in which Democratic candidate Lindsey Constance, a Shawnee councilmember and Shawnee Mission teacher, faces incumbent Republican Mike Thompson.
Constance was the lone participant in the forum, as Thompson informed the Post a few days ago of his intent not to participate. The Shawnee Mission Post opted to continue with the forum — you can read more about that decision here.
Below is the list of questions posed by the Post staff and readers, including the timestamps. The video of the forum can be viewed on the Post’s Facebook page and is also embedded below.
- Given that national issues currently monopolize the public agenda, can you list the state-level issues that you see as priorities? 4:00
- In this time, when access to healthcare is crucial, what will you do to ensure every person has access to high-quality affordable healthcare in Kansas, and that hospitals in rural parts of the state can remain open to provide care? 5:22
- The COVID-19 pandemic is now entering its seventh month. In Johnson County, new cases continue to rise, and percent positive rates also suggest that community spread is still occurring (latest update here and county’s COVID-19 dashboard here). How would you assess the state’s response to the pandemic so far? Has the state not done enough or too much in trying to combat the disease’s spread? 6:33
- Another aspect of the pandemic is the economic impacts as well. In the week ending Sept. 19, the U.S. Department of Labor said that more than 17,900 initial jobless claims were filed in the state of Kansas, and according to the Kansas Department of Labor, more than 103,000 Kansans of working age still remained without a job. The state’s unemployment rate currently at 6.9%. If elected, what policies will you support as a state senator to help businesses recover from the pandemic and get Kansans back to work? 8:12
- A recent poll showed a majority of Kansans now accept the idea that human activity is causing climate change. How can Kansas lead in taking on the impacts of global warming, and how if at all would you plan on being a part of that in Topeka? 9:59
- Why is cannabis still illegal in Kansas? Do you support any measure of legalization for either medical or recreational marijuana? Why or why not? 12:27
- A measure to put a proposed Constitutional amendment related to abortion failed to pass the Kansas House last session after being approved by the Senate. The measure sought to explicitly write out of the Kansas Constitution a right to abortion that was enshrined by a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling. If you are elected, it’s possible — some might even say probable — that you’ll be faced with a vote in a similar measure next year or in the coming year. Do you think Kansans should be afforded a Constitutional right to abortion, and what, if any, limits on abortion do you support? 13:36
- All major cities in Johnson County, including Shawnee, now have explicit legal anti-discrimination protections on their books for LGBTQ residents when it comes to employment, housing and public accommodation. There is no such protection at the state level, and some opponents of these ordinances say they could infringe on religious freedoms. Where do you stand on having statewide anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Kansans? 15:11
- Do the candidates’ children attend or have attended public or private schools? Do they favor increased funding for public schools in Kansas? How might that be affected in the statehouse? 16:16
- Given that American politics is extremely polarized right now, both at the local and at the national level, what experiences or relationships can you point to that demonstrate that you have the ability to reach out and work with those who might not always agree with you? Please give specific examples. 18:12