Responses are from the candidates and have not been edited.
Current:Owner, Legal Help Center; Instructor, Washburn University School of Education: Business; Bachelors degree in Business Administration, Drake University; Masters degree in Public Administration, University of Kansas; Law Degree, Drake University Law School; Masters of Law, UMKC. Previous positions: Shawnee County Commissioner; Kansas Secretary of Labor; Kansas Secretary of Administration; Chief of Staff to Gov. Mike Hayden; Senior Advisor, U.S. State Department for Central and Eastern Europe; Vice-chair, Shawnee Community Mental Health Center, Chair, Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging; Secretary, Board of Trustees, First United Methodist Church, Topeka.
Married to Karen Taylor, Owner of Yak ‘n Yarn in Topeka, for over 29 years.
Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:
What is your response to the Black Lives Matter movement?
I support the movement in its advocacy for non-violent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of polic brutality. Most police departments, police officers, and citizens of all races want to maintain trust between law enforcement and citizens. When trust is lost in a community or country we are all at risk including law enforcement officers and citizens of all races.
What do you think needs to be done to promote social and racial justice?
Social and racial justice begins with ensuring equality of access to housing, food, medical care, and education. Creating the atmosphere for ensuring such equality requires understanding the nature and extent of problems, agreement that solutions need to be found to address the problems, and building of coalitions of citizens, businesses, and the public sector to find common ground for implementation of solutions.
Are you in favor of police reform? If so, what should it look like?
Reform of any kind usually starts with considering whether citizen expectations are being achieved by the present system and practices. We have expected police officers to keep order, and be enforcers of law, often without clearly articulating the limits we want officers to exercise in carrying out their tasks.
I support police reform that clarifies police roles and creates incentives for officers to keep situational control while focusing on deescalation of confrontations with the help of others, i.e., social workers or mental health counselors. Years ago police rarely called in negotiators when someone was holding hostages; now it is routine. Creating clear community expectations for police practices that relieves police of being expected to do it all would be helpful in reducing the us v. them environment that is too often prevalent.
What are your thoughts on how the U.S. has responded to the coronavirus pandemic? What would you want to be done differently?
The U.S. has been reactive, not proactive. In January we were told the first case arrived from China and travel from there was then banned. Later the virus was shown to have been in the U.S. since at least October. Then we were assured it would just disappear by the end of February. When that did not happen we were told warmer weather would take care of it. Now we have more than 135,000 deaths and more than 15,000 new cases a day in Florida where it is very warm. We did not plan to fail, but we did fail to plan.
In some places it is almost too late, but in Kansas it is still possible to follow the TTSI method: testing, tracing, supported isolation. The U.S. needs to be doing 20 million tests a day; we are doing 800,000. To do what is needed requires manpower. As it happens we have 20 million people on unemployment with more coming every day as the first stimulus runs out. We should put the jobless to work to help isolate the virus, restore confidence in people to spend and in companies to hire. The U.S. is testing 12 people per 1000 positive cases and have 135,000 deaths. Other countries are testing 125-270 per 1000 positive cases and have had minimal deaths. We can do better if we put the unemployed to work.
Do you support more stimulus money? If so, how should Congress pay for the stimulus?
I support more sitmulus money, but not as just more unemployment compensation. As stated above, I support a jobs program to test, trace, and isolate the virus to get America back to work. We are at war. In World War II we had to sacrifice spending on some less essential things to focus on the war effort. The same is true now. I believe Americans will rise to the occasion if they can see there is a plan and leadership. Real fiscal conservatism wants to restore our free market engine quickly. If people are out of work, they can’t spend. If they can’t spend, companies won’t hire. We should stop the downward spiral now. If budget cuts cannot be agreed to it may be necessary to borrow against future revenues for a qwuicker recovery.
What are the top 3 things you think deserve your immediate attention in Washington and what action would you take on them, including how you’d compromise with members of the other party?
1. Economic Recovery–Please see answer to Question #5 above. I would try to convince Republicans that public investment is necessary to restore confidence and jobs, is in the interests of all Americans, and is good policy and good politics and that all the alternatives are worse.
2. Justice and Fairness–I support legislation to establish the U.S. Department of Justice as an agency independent of presidential and congressional interference. Such an agency would function much like the Federal Trade Commission or Securities and Exchange Commission with presidential nomiation and Senate confirmation and a set term of years. Republicans have always favored the rule of law that is not subject to political interference, corruption, or cronyism.
3. National Security–I support restoring America’s faith in our national law enforcement and intelligence services by providing better oversight and by preventing undermining of these agencies’ effectiveness through unsubstantiated allegations that only serve the interests of those threatening our national economic, physical, and cyber security. Republicans have always known our national security is not well-protected by giving the role of world leader to the Chines, Russians, or European Union. We should not pretend our interests or power is enhanced by failing to engage with other countries or believing decisions made by others won’t affect us.
Do you believe our healthcare system needs to be reformed? If so, what will you do to change it?
I believe the healthcare system is not working well for many Americans and needs to be reformed. If such reform can be accomplished during the next Congress while we are still in the middle of a global pandemic, I would not be opposed, but more realistically, I believe little in the way of major reform will occur until this crisis is over.
I realize the Affordable Care Act still has flaws that make it unaffordable for many, but disagree with those who would end the law at this time without a viable alternative to replace it in this time of crisis. Ending the law without protecting those with pre-existing conditions or those relying on having their children up to 26 on their insurance is unacceptable.
Give us your stance on gun control/2nd Amendment rights.
I believe in the right to keep and bear arms. Like all of the Bill of Rights, the 2nd Amendment is not unlimited in scope. For example, we have a 1st Amendment right of free speech, but it is limited. You cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theatre or slander or libel a person without consequences. Similarly, I believe the safety of our fellow citizens and law enforcement officers requries gun licensing, background checks, and red flag laws.
I realize that like all laws some will choose to violate laws that limit gun ownership. Some people want the right to advertise products and let the buyer beware or drive a car or use their property however they please. Most of us realize the constitutional rights to speech and property are not unlimited and don’t mind consumer protection laws, traffic regulations or zoning laws, believing our country is stronger and safer with these laws. Use of a firearm is as serious a matter as those other rights and should not be unlimited.
Do you think we need immigration reform and what changes would you support?
We definitely need comprehensive immigration reform. We need a guest worker visa program to make it easier to legally enter our country to work. We should prioritize deportation hearings to remove those here illegally who have felony records. We should make it illegal to employ, rent or sell cars to, or open a bank account for those in this country illegally. We should ensure that those who came here as children are not forced to repatriate to countries with which they have no family or connections. We should enforce border restriction humanely and efficiently.
What steps would you support to strengthen the nation’s security?
1. Listen to America’s antional secuity agencies.
2. Do not make the jobs of these agencies harder than they are already by attacking their motives or patriotism without evidence of impropriety, it only emboldens our enemies.
3. Conduct foreign policy in the nation’s interests, not for the personal interests of government officials.
4. Do not seek or accept the assurances of autocratic leaders of other countries without verification. As President Reagan famously said, “trust, but verify”.
What are your thoughts on climate change? What should Congress do about it, if anything?
There is no magic bullet. If there was, someone would have found it long before now. But there are things we can do as a country that we are only doing piecemeal today. Some of those are the responsibility of the government, but many are the responsbility of individual citizens. I believe climate change, whether man-made or natural, is real. We can all work to wean ourselves off one contributor to climate change–our addiction to fossil fuels and their associated products. We can buy green, kill fewer trees and plant more, and for some, we can tele-commute more often.
Congress can lead by establishing workable federal-state partnerships to set levels and distribution of state obligations through state plans and multi-state compacts, and can help improve state and local capacity to address climate through federal incentive match grants to state and local agencies. The federal government already spends $11.7 billion on clean energy but without a coordinated and funded set of grant programs it is unclear what it has gotten for this expenditure.
Would you vote in favor of spending bills that add to the deficit?
As noted above, while I am a fiscal conservative, as my record as a county commissioner and a state official will attest, there are times when the most fiscally responsible thing to do is to borrow against future receipts to spur the free market system to do what it does best–create prosperity. The shutdown this spring was an artificially induced recession, but without consumer confidence that spurs business confidence jobs will not magically reappear. We risk a recovery that will be slow and will take years.
As a business owner I see people no longer employed who are now unable to spend with us. The longer they are without jobs, the less spending they will do with us and many other businesses, leading to a lack of hiring and then to more layoffs. It is regrettable, but necessary, to borrow against future revenues, but if we want to come back quickly, and avoid a long-term downward spiral, before fully recovering years from now we need to do so.