Candidates face issues
Fourteen candidates for Douglas County, Kansas and United States offices attended a forum Monday night at the Baldwin City American Legion Hall.
Candidates discussed issues of taxes, education and growth the most local issue facing their various offices. Planning for growth in Douglas County, including traffic, was one of the biggest concerns for Republican Bob Johnson and Democrat Dan Gregg, who are seeking the 2nd District County Commission seat. The Baldwin area is part of that district.
"I am very concerned about the growth in our county," Johnson said, adding that growth is better than no growth. "The issue is managing that growth."
Gregg said the county needs to plan it's growth as it relates to land use, roadways and emergency services, "not just what will be good for the next 20 years, but the next 120 years."
The county's emergency services were the biggest concern for sheriff candidates Rick Trapp, a Republican, and Ron Wilson, who is running as an Independent.
Wilson, a deputy sheriff, is campaigning for officer safety, additional deputies, more aggressive drug enforcement and becoming more involved in the community.
"We need to update our equipment. We need to update our training," Wilson said. "We are fighting criminals using technology, and we need to be up-to-date as well."
Wilson said he is running as an Independent, because "I don't think politics and law enforcement should mix."
Trapp, the deputy district attorney for Douglas County and a former Lawrence police officer and FBI agent, said he is concerned about youth violence and officer safety. He would also like to see the sheriff's department more involved with the community.
"We need to be involved in the community," Trapp said. He said more involvement, especially through youth programs, could help prevent youth violence.
Phill Kline, Third District U.S. House of Representatives candidate, said he would continue to fight for tax relief, as he did in the Kansas House.
"I stood up for meaningful tax relief for families and small businesses," said Kline, whose opponent is Democrat Dennis Moore. "We need meaningful tax relief, not lip service."
Tenth District state representative incumbent Ralph Tanner, R-Baldwin City, who is running unopposed, discussed education issues he thinks the Kansas Legislature will address next session. He expects the way the state funds public schools will be rewritten.
"I don't know if we will get it done in one year," Tanner said. "We are going to create a lot of heat. Hopefully, we will generate some light also."
Other candidates attending the forum were 19th District Sen. Anthony Hensley; 44th District state representative challenger Phyllis Tiffany; 47th House District Democratic candidate Lana Leach; 3rd District County Commission candidates Jere McElhaney and Larry Kipp; Register of Deeds candidate Sue Neustifter; incumbent county treasurer Pat Wells and her opponent, Diane Kennedy.
The forum was sponsored by the Town and Country Republican Women, South Douglas County Democrats, and the Baldwin chapters of the American Association of University Women and Business and Professional Women.