Eudoran, Olathean want House seat
The two first-time candidates running for the 38th District Kansas House seat admit their differences on the issues come down to nuance.
Anthony Brown of Eudora and Tom Marsh of Olathe are vying for the Republican nomination in the House district that stretches along Kansas Highway 10 from Lenexa to Lawrence. With the failure of a Democrat to file for the seat, the winner of the Aug. 3 primary will represent the 38th District, which includes all of De Soto and Eudora and parts of Lenexa, Olathe, Shawnee and Lawrence. Incumbent Rob Boyer gave up the seat to challenge fellow Republican Kay O'Connor in the 9th Kansas Senate District.
Both the 35-year-old Brown and the 58-year-old Marsh are pro-life, support education and express a reluctance to raise taxes. Both men said they would support allowing Kansans to vote on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Brown said he had found overall support for those stances in his months of door-to-door campaigning. But he said there were different views in the geographically fractured district. Those in Eudora and De Soto, who live with some of the highest mill levies in the state, expressed little support for tax increases for education, which found some favor in the district's Lenexa and Shawnee precincts, Brown said.
The candidate who left the teaching profession to become a union carpenter to better support his and his wife, Susan's, family of six children from the ages of 4 months to 9 years said he understood the importance of maintaining quality education for his children. Education should be the top priority of a more efficient state government, he said.
But he said increased accountability of taxpayer dollars spent on education was needed, too.
"I want to make sure we know where education dollars are going," he said.
He didn't sign a no-tax pledge because he believed lawmakers needed flexibility to respond to an emergency, Brown said.
"But increasing taxes is the last thing I want to do," he said.
Brown said he would support giving communities the right to increase local taxes to support education, although he admitted such authority would do little for either Eudora or De Soto.
Economic growth, not additional taxes on Kansas families, was the proper way to provide schools more dollars, Brown said. Lawmakers needed to make sure the provisions of the Kansas Economic Growth Act were established as intended, Brown said. The act, which the Legislature passed this session, made $500 million available in the next 10 years to grow and attract life sciences companies.
Brown won the endorsement of Kansans for Life. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' pro-choice stance would probably limit any major pro-life initiatives, but he would support measures such as requiring licenses of abortion clinics, Brown said.
While campaigning, he learned many residents were upset with news that immigrants were eligible for in-state tuition to Regent schools without U.S. citizenship. In-state tuition should be limited to those immigrants who have obtained citizenship, he said.
In an attempt to define the differences between himself and Brown, Marsh cited his experience. The 58-year-old former executive with Ford Motor Company, who received Boyer's endorsement, has thrown himself into public service since his retirement. He serves on the Johnson County Heritage Trust Fund Grant Review Board, the Olathe Planning Commission, and is co-chairman of the Johnson County Transportation Advisory Board.
Residents of the 38th District would benefit from his business background and his retirement.
"I was responsible for putting together a $270 million business plan," he said of his career at Ford. "Doing that gives you experience and confidence. You know you don't have all the answers, but you know how to get them."
His planning commission experience, Marsh said, gave him an understanding of the standards needed for quality development and the proper mix of commercial, residential and industrial development.
Marsh said he was a positive person. As such, he advocated a growing tax base as the way to fund education and other state needs.
That was especially true on the K-10 Corridor, Marsh said. The Kansas Economic Growth Act should allow De Soto and the rest of the K-10 corridor to build on what already exists. There were 161 existing life science companies in Kansas, Marsh said. Thirty-three of them are in Lenexa, nine in Lawrence, seven in Shawnee, five in Olathe and one each in De Soto and Eudora.
With the legislation in place, Marsh said he saw his role as a facilitator, introducing local economic development to the right people in the state and making sure communities take the necessary steps to enjoy the act's full benefit.
That kind of constituency service would be a big part of his job as representative, Marsh said.
"I'm retired," he said. "I have time to give to do the job."