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Our questions for the candidates on this summer’s primary ballot

Last week, we asked Shawnee Mission Post and Blue Valley Post readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for local office address as they competed for votes

Last week, we asked Shawnee Mission Post and Blue Valley Post readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for local office address as they competed for votes ahead of the primary.

We had more than 100 suggestions come in. Sorting through them, a few clear trends emerged.

“Abortion, gun violence, climate change and property taxes appear to be top-of-mind with voters as we enter the primary voting season,” said Publisher Jay Senter.

As we reviewed the input we received, we noted that readers who indicated they were voting in one party’s primary or another had different priorities. We worked to reflect those in the questions we posed to the two sets of candidates in hopes of providing the most valuable information possible for voters participating in different primaries.

“As we’ve done for more than a decade now, we’re working to get the candidates on record about the issues Johnson County residents care about most,” Senter said. “Our goal is to help voters find the candidate who best reflects their own views before they cast their ballots.”

We distributed the questionnaires below to the candidates on the primary ballot this morning. We’ll begin publishing their responses on the site July 11 and publish a response to one question per day through July 15.

Johnson County Board of County Commissioners (Chair and District 5 seat)

  • Property Values: Sharply increasing property values and associated taxes are a major concern for many of our readers. One sent us the following: “My biggest concern is how the ever increasing value of my home has caused my property taxes to go up so much. I have a small house in Prairie Village. We are retired and our property taxes have more than doubled in five years. This is a big financial burden for us… It’s great that my home value has increased, but I would like the candidates to discuss what they would do to help with property tax relief for existing homeowners. Or perhaps some relief for elderly or lower income residents.” How would you respond to this reader?
  • Attainable housing: Another reader asks the following: “Housing costs in once very affordable neighborhoods are escalating beyond reason, and we have ‘luxury’ apartments going up everywhere that don’t help the situation at all. What do you plan to do?” How would you address these concerns? What can Johnson County do to ensure people who don’t have high household incomes can afford to live here?
  • Pandemic management: The county commission oversees the county health department, which provided management of the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been more than 150,000 cases and 1,200 deaths recorded in Johnson County to date. Would you support a formal review of pandemic management with a focus on whether the number of cases or deaths could have been reduced? In the event we have another public health crisis, do you believe the county should take a more assertive role in orders on masking, closing/opening facilities, schools, etc…?
  • Climate Change: Climate change remains the most-asked-about topic by our readers. What role should the county be playing to improve climate resiliency here in Johnson County? How big a priority is mitigation of climate change in your vision for the county?
  • Aging population: In the coming years, Johnson County will continue to see more and more of its residents aging into their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond. What’s your view on how the county should address this wave of aging residents? What services should the county be looking to provide for seniors, and how should those services be paid for?

Republican Kansas House of Representatives Primaries

  • Abortion policy: If approved by voters next month, the “Value Them Both” amendment would allow the state legislature to place restrictions on access to abortion — a power it could exercise freely in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. Would you support any exceptions or legal allowances for abortion in the event of pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest, or if the life of the mother is at risk? Please explain why or why not.
  • Election integrity: Many of our readers want to know where the candidates running for state representative stand on the integrity of the 2020 presidential election. Do you accept that Joe Biden was legitimately elected and seated as President of the United States? If not, please explain your thinking.
  • Gun violence: Mass shootings in Uvalde, Tex., and Buffalo, N.Y., have renewed discussions about gun control measures at the federal and state level. There have been efforts in Topeka in recent years to take up a “red flag” law that would allow law enforcement to take firearms away from domestic abusers when a court has determined that a partner, spouse or children are at risk. Do you support the idea of a “red flag” law? Why or why not?
  • Climate change: Climate change remains the most-asked-about topic by our readers. What role should the legislature be playing to improve climate resiliency here in Kansas? How big a priority is mitigation of climate change in your vision for the legislature?
  • Medicaid expansion: Efforts to expand Medicaid in Kansas — which would give an estimated 90,000 uninsured Kansans access to the program — have gained bi-partisan support in recent years, but have failed to pass out of the state senate. Do you support Medicaid expansion in Kansas? Why or why not? If you support it, what would you do to see that the bill is passed and becomes law?

Democratic Kansas House of Representatives Primaries

  • Abortion policy: If approved by voters next month, the “Value Them Both” amendment would allow the state legislature to place restrictions on access to abortion — a power it could exercise freely in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. Can you please explain your thoughts on reproductive rights? When, if ever, would you support restrictions on access to abortion services?
  • Teacher shortage: With teacher resignations up and the number of teacher candidates declining, Kansas appears to be headed to a significant shortage of good teachers in public education. What actions will you support to solve this shortage of teachers?
  • Gun violence: Democratic lawmakers have for years been pursuing bills aimed at reducing gun violence in the state, but have made essentially no progress. Do you see any potential path toward meaningful legislation in this area? If so, what approaches would have the best chance of moving forward? If not, please explain your thinking.
  • Climate change: Climate change remains the most-asked-about topic by our readers. What role should the legislature be playing to improve climate resiliency here in Kansas? How big a priority is mitigation of climate change in your vision for the legislature?
  • Energy prices: Energy prices have been a big headache this year, at least in part because we are so dependent on fossil fuels. What policies would you support at the state level to help reduce this dependency?