WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The August 2nd Kansas primary election is coming up, and two of the county commission candidates squared off against one another in a debate Thursday afternoon.
County Commissioner Karl Peterjohn and his challenger, David Dennis, met in a lunch-hour forum hosted by the Wichita Crime Commission.
Both candidates admit theirs has been a contentious race, saying they don’t see eye-to-eye on several issues. Both of them got the chance at the forum to drive home their views on what they would do if elected.
“Our best days are ahead of us, but we can’t let government get in the way,” said Peterjohn.
I’m going to listen to the people, I’m going to do what’s right,” Dennis said.
The hottest topic during the debate was the Sedgwick County Zoo.
“I think it’s important that voters know that the funding level we have this year is actually above operational support,” Peterjohn said.
Dennis also said zoo funding is important, but had a different perspective.
“That’s something we need to take a very hard look at, so we are doing the right things to keep the number one tourist attraction in Kansas, the number one tourist attraction.”
Another hot-button issue was the use of federal grant money.
Peterjohn, who is part of the current commission majority, has been criticized for not taking more federal grand. But, he says the commission looks at each grant on a case-by-case basis.
“We’ve turned down certain health grants,” said Peterjohn. “if Obamacare mandates are coming at us from certain grants, I’m part of a county commission majority that is going to be very skeptical of any programs in that area.”
While Dennis agrees all grants should be evaluated, he says if the county doesn’t take advantage of the funding, someone else will.
“Overall, that’s our tax money, money that goes into the Federal Government came from us, and if we don’t accept those grants it’s going to go to Johnson County or some other county,” Dennis said.
The fate of both candidates now lies in the hands of the voters.
The primary election is next Tuesday. The winner will face off against current Goddard Mayor Marcy Gregory in the general election in November.