2020 candidate forum: Lenexa area Kansas Senate District 21 race

Medicaid expansion, anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Kansans and the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic were a few of the main topics raised during the Shawnee Mission Post’s second of 19 candidate forums ahead of the November general election.

This forum on Tuesday evening featured candidates vying for Kansas Senate District 21 seat in the Lenexa area. Democratic incumbent Sen. Dinah Sykes faces Republican challenger Tom Bickimer in the November general election. Both candidates participated in the forum.

Tom Bickimer

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.

  1. Given that national issues currently monopolize the public agenda, can you list the state issues you see as priorities? 6:00
  2. The COVID-19 pandemic is now entering its seventh month. In Johnson County, new cases continue to rise, and the percent positive test rate also suggests that community spread is still occurring, according to the county health department’s COVID-19 dashboard online. How would you assess the state’s response to the pandemic so far? Has the state not done enough. or too much. or somewhere in between?  7:53
  3. In the week ending Sept. 19, the U.S. Department of Labor says 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 remain without a job. The state’s unemployment rate currently sits at 6.9%. What policies will you support as a state senator to help businesses recover from the pandemic and get Kansans back to work? 10:48
  4. Would you vote for a bill to expand Medicaid? If not, how would you justify that choice in regard to loss of federal funds and loss of medical facilities, especially in rural areas? If yes, how do you respond to critics who say it will cost too much? 14:22
  5. Do you support a Constitutional amendment that would give the Legislature the exclusive authority to determine funding for schools, and beyond that, do you favor increasing funding for public schools? 16:51
  6. State Sen. Dinah Sykes

    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. That measure sought to explicitly write out of the Kansas Constitution a right to abortion that had been enshrined by a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling. If you’re elected or return to office, it’s possible, some might say probable, that you’ll be faced with a vote on a similar measure next year or in the year to come. Do you think Kansans should be afforded a Constitutional right to abortion, and what, if any, limits on abortion do you support? 19:42

  7. All major cities in Johnson County, including Shawnee, now have explicit legal anti-discrimination protections on the books for LGBTQ residents when it comes to employment, housing and public accommodation. But there is no such protection at the state level in Kansas. Some opponents of these ordinances say that they could infringe on religious freedoms. Where do you stand on having statewide anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Kansans? 24:23
  8. List two measures you will initiate or support in order to reduce Kansas’s greenhouse gas emissions. 26:00
  9. Given that American politics is extremely polarized right now, both locally and nationally, what experience or relationships can you point to that show you have the ability to reach out and work with those who might not always agree with you? If you could, please give specific examples. 28:33