2020 candidate forum: Kansas House District 21

Democratic Kansas Rep. Jerry Stogsdill (left) and Republican Bob Reese met at a recent SM Post forum. Photo courtesy Denise Elam.

The state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicaid expansion and the challenge of redistricting were some of the main highlights from the Shawnee Mission Post’s recent forum for candidates vying for Kansas House District 21. The forum took place at Prairie Village City Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 13, the final night of the Post’s forums for the 2020 election cycle.

The event featured incumbent Democratic Rep. Jerry Stogsdill, who is seeking his third term in the 21st District. He is being challenged this year by Republican Bob Reese, a retired engineer who has served on the WaterOne board since 1993. Both men participated in the Oct. 13 event.

The 21st House District covers parts of Leawood, Mission Hills, Overland Park and Prairie Village.

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

  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? [5:00]
  2. We are now in the midst of the seventh month of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Johnson County, data provided by the county health department — in terms of new cases and percent positive test rates — continue to suggest community spread is still happening. How would you assess the state’s response to the pandemic so far? Has the state not done enough or too much? [8:30]

    Rep. Jerry Stogsdill
  3. Over the past two weeks, the U.S. Department of Labor says more than 32,000 initial jobless claims have been 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. Reader Marsha Ratzel asks: what can the Kansas House do to help our cities recover from COVID-19, \in terms of both the help for small businesses and individual families? [12:56]
  4. A question from reader Richard Pund: “How would you have the state raise revenue for the budget if more is needed? I want to be clear that I am not interested in how you would cut spending. I want to know where you would look for revenue if cutting spending is not an option.” [16:55]
  5. A question from reader Seth Graber: “Given the large number of households that are homeschooling their kids this year, and potentially in future years too, is it fair to continue to send all property taxes from these homeschoolers to fund local public schools? Would it make sense to send a rebate back to these households who are teaching their kids at home during the pandemic?” [21:09]
  6. Do you support Medicaid expansion? Please explain your position. [25:30]

    Bob Reese
  7. 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 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? [29:55]
  8. How should Kansas lawmakers be preparing for the challenge of redistricting during the 2021 session following the 2020 U.S. Census? [34:30]
  9. The ongoing protest movement calling for police accountability and a broader reckoning with racism has brought to the fore many sensitive issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. How, if at all, have you yourself personally tried to educate yourself about these issues, not only this year but prior to this latest outbreak of protests? [38:35]