2020 candidate forum: Kansas House District 17

The ongoing economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicaid expansion and gun control were a few of the main topics raised during the Shawnee Mission Post’s sixth candidate forum ahead of the November general election.

The forum on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 1, featured candidates vying for Kansas House District 17, including Democrat Jo Ella Hoye and Libertarian Michael Kerner. Their opponent Kristine Sapp was invited, but like several of her fellow Republicans this election season in northern Johnson County, chose not to participate. Here are some of our thoughts on why the Shawnee Mission Post hosts these forums and what it means when candidates don’t participate.

Below is the list of questions posed by the Post staff and readers for Hoye and Kerner, including the timestamps. The video of the forum can be viewed on the Post’s Facebook page and is also embedded below.

    1. We have been starting all of our forums off with a version of this question: With politics at the national level monopolizing much of voters’ attention, what do you think are Kansas’s biggest state-level priorities that need to be addressed? 5:00
    2. The COVID-19 pandemic is now entering its seventh month. In Johnson County, new cases continue to rise and the percent-positive rate also suggests that community spread is still occurring. How would you assess the state’s response to the pandemic so far? Has the state not done enough, too much, somewhere in between? 7:46

      Jo Ella Hoye
    3. In the week ending September 19, the U.S. Department of Labor said 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 remain without a job. What policies will you support as a statehouse representative to help businesses recover from the pandemic and get Kansans back to work? 10:10
    4. (From a reader) What are your positions on using publicly funded school vouchers for private school tuition? 12:08
    5. Would you vote for a bill to expand Medicaid in Kansas? If not, how do you justify that choice in regard to loss of federal funds and the loss of hospitals, especially in rural areas? If yes, how do you respond to critics who say that it will cost too much? 14:08
    6. 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 that you’ll be faced with a vote on a similar measure. Do you think Kansans should be afforded a constitutional right to abortion? And what, if any limits, on abortion do you support? 18:45
    7. From a reader) Name two measures, if any, that you would initiate or support to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. 20:03

      Michael Kerner
    8. Is action needed in the Legislature to ensure that all Kansans are treated fairly at the hands of police and government institutions amid the ongoing national movement for social justice and police accountability? Do you believe Kansas open records and meetings laws guarantee sufficient transparency of law enforcement in the state? 22:27
    9. In polarized times, please describe what experience or relationships you can point to that show you have an ability to reach out and work with those who might not always agree with you. Please give specific examples. 25:34