WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — KSN News sent a questionnaire to each candidate facing a challenger in the November general election. We have not made any edits to the candidate’s answers.
Jaelynn Abegg is a lifelong Kansan. Born in Lawrence, she moved to Arkansas City at age 9 and graduated from Ark City High School and Cowley College. She moved to Wichita for a work opportunity and has been a resident of the greater metro area ever since, except for a couple years in the Buffalo, NY area.
Jaelynn has a passion for service and creativity, which can be seen in her prior work in the alarm industry and radio, and her current work in voiceover production. As a transgender woman, she has begun stepping up to advocate for LGBTQ causes, especially transgender rights and visibility. She is also a musician and songwriter.
If elected, Jaelynn’s day-one priorities include expanding KanCare, legalizing medical THC, and working to fully fund Kansas’ public education budgets – particularly special education. She will also fight against “culture war” bills that would strip rights from vulnerable communities.
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What do you think should be done to help Kansans dealing with high costs?
To start, let’s scrap the idea of ‘phasing out’ the food sales tax, and instead end it immediately. While we’re at it, let’s stop taxing basic necessities – like feminine hygiene products, diapers, and soap.
Kansas homeowners stand to benefit from this year’s property tax cuts. We can go even further with the property tax reduction plan proposed by Reps. Miller and Amyx, which I intend to support.
Finally: Usual wisdom says not to pay more than 30% of your income on rent. But renters in 80 Kansas counties pay more. And in six of them, it’s more than half their income! As more Kansans start renting homes, we must explore ways to make those costs more reasonable.
Share your thoughts on abortion rights and restrictions.
I believe that pregnancy-capable people have the human right to determine their reproductive outcomes. The results of the August 2nd election show that nearly 60% of my neighbors and fellow Kansans share that belief.
But District 105’s Republican lawmaker Brenda Landwehr has ignored that, and vows to keep pushing to make abortions illegal. As an abortion patient herself, I find her lack of empathy and extremism both frightening and mind-boggling. Republicans’ rhetoric before August was clear that their goal is a total ban. Do we really want Kansas to become like Ohio, where they force 10-year-old rape victims to carry pregnancies to term? Is that what Rep. Landwehr wants?
Sooner or later, an abortion ban would make all Kansans complicit in those sorts of despicable crimes, and I’m not here for it.
Do you think KanCare should be expanded? Why or why not?
Expanding KanCare is long overdue. Almost 150,000 Kansans live in a coverage gap, where private insurance isn’t affordable, but they don’t qualify for KanCare coverage. Using federal dollars, we can close that gap and make Kansas healthier. And there are so many other benefits to KanCare expansion – from economic benefits to saving rural hospitals and health clinics.
Additionally, Kansas recently scored dead last for adult mental health in a ranking of states by Mental Health America. Lack of access to care contributed to this horrible situation.
It’s past time to act, and I will see it done. My opponent, Rep. Landwehr, chairs the House health committee. She has repeatedly steamrolled KanCare expansion because of her hatred of women’s rights – holding those 150,000 Kansans’ wellness hostage in the process. That nonsense has to stop.
What is your stance on the legalization of medical marijuana? Recreational marijuana?
Medical marijuana has been shown to alleviate symptoms of numerous physical and mental ailments. This can increase the quality of life for patients living with those ailments, and in turn contribute to a more productive workforce. I believe Kansas needs to make medical cannabis legal right away and will act to make it happen. Re-electing Rep. Landwehr will allow her to make more excuses to avoid legalization, as Kansas falls further behind and as patients continue to needlessly suffer.
In principle, I support legalization of recreational marijuana as well. My only hesitation is with DUI enforcement. But scientists at multiple universities have developed breathalyzers that can detect THC levels, and it’s only a matter of time before these devices become part of the law enforcement toolkit.
Share your thoughts about transgender athletes in sports.
“Any boy can just say…” etc. That’s always the first tired argument against letting transgender athletes compete with teams of their transitioned gender. But even IF that situation ever happened, KSHSAA guidelines keep students like that out. Believe you me, the changes that hormone therapy put you through are huge, visible, and scary. Trans kids transition because their gender doesn’t match how their body came out. NOT because they want some plastic trophy that probably won’t matter in five or ten years.
Even so, GOP lawmakers like Mrs. Landwehr think it’s a good idea to make school officials stare at the genitals of elementary school children. For “fairness”? Give me a break. The so-called “Fairness in Women’s Sports” bill was never about that – it specifically targeted transgender kids to bully them back into the closet. The cruelty has always been the point with laws like this. When that bill returns to the house next year, I will oppose it fiercely.
What are your thoughts on election integrity in Kansas? Across the United States? Would you change the election process and how?
Every time we’ve investigated recent claims of election fraud, we find that election integrity is strong, both here in Kansas and across the nation.
My concern is ballot access. In speaking with voters in my district, I encountered many who didn’t know they could vote by mail, didn’t know that advance voting was available, or didn’t know if their registration was up-to-date.
Kansans want to participate in elections. We should proactively help them be aware of their voting options. I would like to see an expanded window for voting by mail, as well as a secure online option to apply for an advance ballot. Finally, Election Day should be a recognized holiday. Not only would this allow people more time to get to their polling place, but it could also drive higher volunteerism to help voters get through the line more quickly.
What are the issues you would address for farmers and ranchers?
Water is critical in keeping America’s breadbasket full and productive. It’s essential that farmers are able to get the most out of every drop, and the state should support working toward efficient water usage. Also, climate change is creating more extreme weather patterns, higher winds, and greater wildfire danger. We need to be ready to help farmers recover when their livelihoods are impacted by these events.
What are the key education issues in Kansas for K-12? For universities?
The state must continue to fully fund public education, including special education programs. A strong public school system should be a no-brainer for lawmakers. But Rep. Landwehr didn’t agree – she’d rather break the First Amendment and deepen the economic class divide by funneling off public funds into religious private schools.
Meanwhile, our teachers deserve better than to be burned out of their beloved professions. Pay increases are just the start in this regard. The workers’ rights of teachers are so eroded that employment contracts might as well not even be written. Finally, boards of education should be encouraged to take a serious look at the massive amount of extra “homework” teachers are burdened with, and to explore ways of reducing that burden.
In the postsecondary sphere, continued investment in affordable vo-tech and tradecraft programs is key. Plumbers, welders, electricians, and so many other skilled tradespeople, are aging into retirement with no younger talent to replace them. Kansas’ economic future depends on a strong skilled labor force.
What do you think needs to be done to promote social and racial justice?
It starts with education. Teaching unrevised, accurate history in schools is NOT “critical race theory,” and it’s not intended to shame or bully white children. We have to understand that knowing our history – and its lingering effects – enables us to shape a more just and fair future.
Diversity training should be required learning for government workers. In addition to ‘classroom’ learning, I believe that should include rotating beat or station assignments for public safety officers in cities with multiple stations. This would introduce police officers, EMTs and firefighters to ALL of the communities they’re sworn to serve.