Responses are from the candidates and have not been edited.
Liquor store manager, BA in Political Science and minor in Global and International Studies, attended public school in Lawrence K-12.
Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:
What is your response to the Black Lives Matter movement?
Black Lives Matter. Our country has a deep history of systemic racism that emerges in all types of institutions. As a white man, I will never be able to fully comprehend or understand what it is like to be a black man and interact with the police. As a white man, I will not have the answers for how to solve this widespread injustice. What I can do is listen to the people who have experienced oppression and racism and discrimination. I want to listen to their voices, and put my voice behind their’s.
What do you think needs to be done to promote social and racial justice?
The action we should take that would have the most immediate effect is to expand Medicaid and enact true mental health parity. There is racial disparity in virtually all facets of our society, but healthcare is the issue we need to address first. Healthcare and mental healthcare produce vastly different results for different groups of people, and minority groups have suffered from this inequality. People have to be well if they want to advance their lives.
Are you in favor of police reform? If so, what should it look like?
Absolutely. We need to set up our police for success. What this means is allowing police to focus on actual crime. Police should not be the first responders to a mental health crisis. They are not trained mental health professionals. Funding that has been given to law enforcement for these issues should be diverted to mental health experts who would instead be responding to these instances. On the question of police accountability, there is no question in my mind that the only way to truly hold law enforcement accountable for their actions is to establish independent citizen review boards to investigate acts of police brutality. Only once non-law enforcement citizens are given total oversight of use-of-force incidents will people be ready to trust the police.
Did you or do you support business shutdowns to control the spread of the coronavirus?
I did and still do. We can clearly see that countries that enacted strict shutdowns and public health protocols were able to bring COVID-19 cases under control, and are now able to reopen their economies. But here, we didn’t follow the CDC’s recommendations, and are now reaping what we have sowed. Businesses opened up far too quickly in the United States, and we are already seeing places that have to reinstitute shutdowns. If we had not opened up so recklessly, we would not be in this situation now where cases are rising.
Would you support another statewide shutdown if coronavirus cases continued to rise? If so, what are the factors that would lead you to that decision?
Yes. We need to go back to the CDC’s guidelines. Federal health experts gave us the blueprint on how to reopen safely, and we didn’t. I think a positive testing rate benchmark needs to be set, where shutdowns are immediate once rates hit a certain point, like 10%.
What do you think should be done to help the Kansas economy recover?
My number one issue is healthcare, and especially mental health care parity. In our capitalist society, people have to be able to compete in the market. Far too many people who are low-wage can’t afford necessary treatments, so they can’t advance.
Our economy is based on consumer spending, and it will not grow if people don’t have any disposable income. With bankruptcy just one health emergency away for so many workers, that’s a lot of revenue that won’t make its way back to the state. Another way to address this is to eliminate Kansas’s food sales tax. We can’t make the poorest among us pay the most for food. This is cruel.
Would you cut money for social services if it means lower taxes? Would you favor higher taxes for more social services?
I will never, ever support cutting social services in order to lower taxes. This only helps the wealthy few, and never the working people. The data is there; trickle-down economics is fatally flawed. Businesses are created in order to make their owners money. Why would businesses need to invest more in their companies, if we are rewarding them for doing nothing more? There is no incentive there to invest that money back into our economy.
What should Kansas do to balance its budget? Will you support budget cuts for schools?
We have to fix our current tax system in this state. We have been far too eager over the years to cut state spending on anything as long as it meant lower taxes. As we saw during the Brownback tax disaster, giving more money to wealthy people does nothing to help the state’s budget. Kansas faced revenue shortfalls every single month in part because of the LLC exemptions put in place. Large companies took advantage of that, and avoided paying taxes. We have to raise taxes on the wealthy, there’s no other way to put it.