Concealed carry laws, voter registration, the voter ID law, and the death penalty were just a few topics discussed at last Tuesday’s on campus debate between candidates running for seats at the state level. The hour-long debate was sponsored by the university, the American Democracy Project and the League of Women Voters.
“I don’t like conceal and carry,” said Bill Ballard, Democratic candidate running to represent the 60th District. “I don’t want to be blown away in Aisle 14 in WalMart because I brushed up someone who is so paranoid they need to carry a gun around all the time.”
Ballard is running against Don Hill, Republican candidate.
Janet L. Lewis, Democrat, and Peggy L. Mast, Republican, are running to represent the 76th District.
Lewis said she does not support the concealed carry law and that she is “concerned that people who are mentally ill may obtain a gun and cause harm to others.”
“Guns are for law enforcement and hunting,” Lewis said.
Jeff Longbine, incumbent Republican candidate, was set to debate with Susan Moran, Democrat, but Moran could not attend due to health issues. Longbine and Moran are running to represent the 17th District.
Mast and Longbine both said they support the current concealed carry law but are opposed to any extensions on the bill. Mast said that she has a concealed carry license, but she does not carry.
“I am for the current concealed carry law, but I am against extensions on the bill,” Longbine said. He also said he does not own a concealed carry license or a gun.
Hill and Mast both said they supported the current legislation on voter registration and the voter ID law.
“I am for the voter ID law,” Mast said. “We have to show it to get on an airplane. It’s reasonable we have to show it at the voting booth. I did support it in the past and I will support it again.”
Ballard said that while he is not against voters being required to show an ID at a voting booth, he does not “believe in the current voter ID legislation.”
Longbine and Lewis also said they weren’t opposed to showing an ID to vote.
Longbine said he is personally opposed to the death penalty, but “68 percent (of voters) in my district are pro-death penalty. My job is to represent the people.”
Ballard said he is against the death penalty, and the crime rates for states that have the death penalty compared to those that have abolished the death penalty are the same. Hill and Lewis both said they are opposed to the death penalty.
Education and Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax plan were also discussed.
“I would like to see more money in the classroom, so the teachers can do what teachers do best, and that’s teach,” Longbine said.
Ballard said he thinks Kansas needs to focus on education, so more people can get higher paying jobs. Lewis said the state needs to fund schools and that he wants more jobs for Kansas students.
“Kansans value hard work, so we need to focus on education to put out good workers,” Lewis said.
Longbine and Ballard said they have concerns about Brownback’s tax plan. Longbine said he voted against the plan four times. Ballard said he is “absolutely against” Brownback’s tax plan.
“If elected, I will work with others to use proven methods to restore funding to our state,” Ballard said. “All Kansans should pay their share of taxes.”
The last topic that was brought up during the debate was the future of alternative energy in Kansas. Ballard said he supports solar and wind energy. Hill said that Kansas “needs to reduce its carbon footprint.” Lewis said she supports wind energy in Kansas, but she “isn’t sure about biofuels.”
“We need energy independence,” Longbine said. “We need to further research alternative energy. However, I am against putting wind farms in Flint Hills. We need to preserve the beauty of the Flint Hills.”
Mast said she is opposed to alternative energy in Kansas.
“I believe most alternative energy is expensive to produce and the cost is passed down to the consumer,” Mast said.