2020 candidate forum: Kansas Senate District 7

Post editor Kyle Palmer speaks to Kansas Senate District 7 candidates, Republican Laura McConwell (left) and Democrat Ethan Corson (right).

Medicaid expansion, state legislative and congressional redistricting and COVID-19 were among the discussed topics in the Post’s Oct. 7 forum for candidates seeking office in Kansas 7th Senate District.

The two candidates, Democrat Ethan Corson and Republican Laura McConwell, are vying for the seat being vacated by state Sen. Barbara Bollier’s who is running for U.S. Senate. The district covers Fairway, Mission Hills, Mission Woods, Roeland Park, Prairie Village, Westwood, Westwood Hills and parts of Leawood and Overland Park.

Below is a list of the questions posed by the Post staff and readers to the two candidates, with time stamps included for each question. A video of the forum is embedded below, and can also be found on the Post’s Facebook page here.

  1. We have been starting all 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’ biggest state-level priorities that need to be addressed? [5:10]
  2. Democrat candidate Ethan Corson.

    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 or too much? [9:25]

  3. Another pandemic related question more about economics, according to the state Department of Labor more than 103,000 Kansans remain without a job making the state unemployment rate slightly less than 7%. What policies will you support as a state house representative to help businesses recover from the pandemic and get Kansans back to work? [14:31]
  4. Another aspect of the pandemic and the response has been education regarding Shawnee Mission schools gradually reopen during the pandemic, this question first to Laura McConwell. Will the pandemic in your opinion change the way the state funds and/or regulates public schools going forward? [19:23]
  5. A question from a reader: The next state legislature in Topeka will be charged with drawing congressional and state legislative district boundaries following the 2020 census. Gov. Laura Kelly has already said she would veto any redistricting plans that she thinks gerrymanders districts, we should also say the state supreme court would have to sign off on any redistricting plan sent in by the legislature. But, it’s going to be an issue in the 2021 session. What is your opinion about how Kansas lawmakers should prepare for and approach the challenge of redistricting in 2021? [23:49]
  6. Republican candidate Laura McConwell.

    This next question is a key one for many races both locally and on the federal level here in Kansas especially, because it’s a major topic of debate in Topeka. Do you support Medicaid expansion, why or why not? [26:37]

  7. This one has come up in other forums: abortion. A measure to put a proposed constitituional amendment related to abortion did fail to pass the Kansas House last session after being approved by the Kansas 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. We should be clear it did not pass the house to be put before voters. If you are elected, it’s possible that you’ll be faced with a vote on a similar measure or at least aborition will come up. Do you think Kansans should be afforded a constitutional right to abortion? And what, if any limits, on abortion do you support? [30:37]
  8. Any limits on abortion you would support or any more information about that position? [32:53]
  9. The next question is a reader question, this comes from reader Jim Redmond. Do you support raising income taxes in order to move state revenue and explain your decision on why or why not? [33:45]
  10. Is there any role for the legislature in responding to the issues that are being raised by the ongoing protest and social justice movement? Things like police accountability and transparency and broader reckoning with racism in this country. Does the legislature have a role in responding to those issues? [36:50]