Seasoned politician Jim Yonally is running against newcomer James Todd in the upcoming Republican primary Aug. 7 to be the state representative for the 29th District.
The winner will face Democrat Nancy Leiker in the general election on Nov. 6.
Yonally, 75, is a former teacher, principal, administrator and lobbyist for the Shawnee Mission School District and represented the 29th District in the House a total of eight years in the past. Answering a Star questionnaire, Yonally wrote that he did not think schools were adequately funded now.
“All one has to do is look at the number of schools being closed, the increase in class sizes and the dropping of courses and/or programs to know that we are not providing the level of excellence we once did,” he said.
He would vote to increase the percentage of local option budget authority allowed school districts under current state law, even though it might result in higher property taxes.
Yonally said he would not repeal the law that allows in-state tuition at state universities and colleges for undocumented immigrants who have completed three years and graduated from a Kansas high school and signed an affidavit swearing they are in the process of applying for U.S. citizenship, he answered on a Star questionnaire.
“A family that has lived in Kansas for three years and has paid taxes in Kansas for that long should be treated no differently than any other resident of the state,” he said. “It takes several years to become a citizen and as long as they are progressing towards that goal, they should have the same opportunity for an education as other residents.”
Todd, 30, a lawyer, would vote to repeal the in-state tuition law. He sees in-state tuition as an incentive to encourage law breaking, until a better solution can be found, he said.
“The US government and the states need to find ways to encourage legal immigration, not illegal immigration,” he wrote in the Star survey.
Todd would vote to increase the percentage of local option budget authority allowed school districts but says schools are adequately funded “to the degree required by the state Constitution.
“I think that more money can be made available to schools when Kansas is doing well financially and through Local Option Budget authority,” he wrote. “However, I think the primary focus going forward needs to be finding ways for more of the education dollars to be spent in the classrooms. I support efforts to increase the efficient use of education dollars in the state.”
Todd does not support a support a phase-out of the Kansas income tax in favor of high sales taxes. He supports efforts to reduce income and sales taxes, he said.
“In a county like Johnson county, that borders Missouri, tax competitiveness in the retail sector is important,” he wrote. “Kansas already has a higher sales tax than Missouri. Increasing the sales tax further puts Kansas retailers at a competitive disadvantage in cross border commerce. While the elimination of the income tax and shift to the a higher sales tax would be tax neutral and arguably would benefit Kansans, it does not happen in a vacuum.”
Todd filed for the seat before the redistricting plan was announced. The new lines put him across the street from the district, so he moved. He’s renting a room from the parents’ of a friend while he looks for an apartment, he said.