State representative candidates revealed both differences and similarities at a candidate forum July 6 by the county Republican Party.
On many subjects, District 70 challenger Scott Hill and incumbent John Barker professed similar conservative views, sometimes telling the audience they agreed with one another.
Both are supporters of the “Value Them Both” proposed constitutional amendment that will appear on ballots Aug. 2.
Barker touched on a topic important to Marion County: maintaining Remington Rd., which leads to Father Emil Kapaun’s hometown of Pilsen.
Barker said he would introduce a bill to direct $3 million toward resurfacing the road.
The bill would not change Remington Rd. into a state highway, in which case the state would take over maintenance. After improvements were made, the county would need to approach the state and deed over the property for that to happen, he said.
“If the county commission handed it to me wanting to get that done, I would work on it,” Barker said.
When he recently discussed the topic with commissioners, they wanted to go through the grant process, he said.
Both candidates agreed the state’s education system was lacking.
“We like to think we have a pretty good education system,” Hill said but he added that one superintendent estimates 30% to 60% of high school graduates are functionally illiterate.
The state needs a system in which the court doesn’t control education, Barker said.
The state supreme court is the most liberal ever, he said.
“You can read any document you want and interpret it any way you want,” he said.
Both agreed that economic development was a key issue for the district, which includes most of Dickinson County and the northern half of Marion County.
“Are we content to sit and watch our rural communities dry up?” Hill said. “I am not.”
Hill said businesses should not face restrictions to start up, but Barker said Kansas had a streamlined method to get all needed licenses.
The biggest issue is making sure businesses stay open, Barker said.
Hill is an advocate of term limits and said he would not serve longer than six years.
“We have term limits every two years,” Barker contended. “I leave it to the people. If you think you’ve got someone better, vote me out.”
Hill said the constitution assumed a citizen legislature, not a professional one. Legislators should be out among the people they represent. He plans to do that to stay in touch with constituents.
Other speakers at the forum were state school board candidates Jim Porter and Luke Aichele; District 73 incumbent Stephen Owens, Senate candidate Caryn Tyson, and Katie Sawyer, who is running for lieutenant governor on Derek Schmidt’s ticket.