Republican voters in the Olathe area will have two choices in the Aug. 7 primary for the House in the 15th District.
Bob Montgomery, a former city councilman who has served two years in the Kansas House, is being challenged by Elliot Lahn, a city planner in Merriam. Both are from Olathe. No Democrat has filed for the spot in November.
Montgomery was elected last year by GOP committee members to replace state Rep. Robert Olson, who went on to fill a state Senate vacancy. Montgomery had served for 15 years as Olathe city councilman-at-large, resigning recently to focus on the Statehouse.
Lahn is running for the House for a second time. In 2010, he ran as a Democrat against Republican Lance Kinzer. Kinzer won that election.
Montgomery and Lahn offer differing views on the proper priorities for the next Kansas Legislature. Montgomery pledges to reduce the state’s debt with a dedicated tax or refinancing of existing debt. He also said annual revenue increases because of growth should be earmarked to accomplish specific goals. Olathe, for example, has been able to make improvements in parks and interchanges and build a railroad overpass by earmarking and living within its means, he said.
While he voted in favor of a recent income tax reduction plan, Montgomery said he’d prefer to avoid increases in sales or property tax to pay for it. He said earmarking the growth revenue for tax relief would be one option. He also said the state could be more efficient by turning some government jobs over to the private sector. “The government does not do it better,” he said.
Lahn said the state’s inadequate funding of public schools has resulted in overburdened teachers and students and less than excellence in education. “Businesses like to locate and expand in places that can provide the workers they need,” he wrote in a Star questionnaire. “Few things draw in a skilled and educated work force like excellent schools.”
He said he would favor an increase in the local option budget authority for school districts because it would allow local school districts the ability to raise their own funds. But he warned that the Legislature should not consider that authority an excuse to ignore its constitutional dictate to provide education for its residents.