Gardner residents Bill Sutton and Dan Thompson are competing for a chance to represent District 43 in the Republican primary on Tuesday.
The winner will face Democrat Kevin King in the Nov. 6 general election.
Sutton, who works in the steel and pipe supply industry, named school funding as one of the biggest issues facing Kansas.
“(We should) rewrite the school finance formula, so we can determine actual funding levels across the state,” said Sutton, the father of two Gardner-Edgerton students and a district graduate. “This will go a long way toward ending the constant courtroom battle over education funding, the legal fees for which are being funded on both sides entirely by the Kansas taxpayer.”
He also thinks Kansas needs to phase out the state income tax as Gov. Sam Brownback has proposed.
Sutton is strongly opposed to abortion and says Kansas should not participate in the Affordable Care Act. He is a believer in gun rights, saying Americans deserve the opportunity to defend themselves.
He also thinks the upcoming intermodal development is the most vital issue facing his district.
“We need to plan for industrial development and increased traffic with an eye to preserving the small-town atmosphere of Gardner and Edgerton,” Sutton said.
Thompson, who describes himself as pro-life and fiscally responsible, agrees with his opponent that school funding is critical when it comes to District 43 and the entire state.
“Statewide, we must find a way to finance our public education without breaking the bank,” said Thompson, the father of two. “That means the money we do spend is funneled into the classrooms — not into fancy buildings and administrative salaries. Students and teachers must be the priority.”
He also thinks residents must prepare for the intermodal, which he said will change District 43. Thompson said the project must be managed in a way that maintains the quality of life for local residents, while providing maximum benefits locally and statewide.
For example, he said, the Kansas Department of Transportation tentatively plans to move an Interstate 35 truck weigh station from south of 151st Street in Olathe to a location on I-35 between the Moonlight and Gardner Road exits, which he finds unacceptable. The easiest way around the new weigh station for trucks would be through the center of Gardner, passing multiple schools and a main business district.
“Those representing Gardner and Edgerton must be prepared to fight for the interests of local residents on this issue,” said Thompson, who has lived in Gardner since 1977. “That will likely mean putting political interests and aspirations aside.”