House Rep. Sheryl Spalding is facing newcomer Craig McPherson in the race to represent the newly formed District 8.
Both Republicans will compete in the primary on Tuesday; the winner will face no opposition in November.
Spalding of Overland Park currently represents the 29th District in the Kansas House but this year’s redistricting put her in the 8th District.
A former school board member, Spalding said funding education in hard economic times is the biggest challenge she hopes to tackle, if elected. After all, it’s a subject she has pursued passionately before.
Spalding is concerned about the number of K-12 students from Missouri and Oklahoma attending schools in a handful of Kansas school districts outside of Johnson County, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. She introduced a bill to make those states fund the education. Although it passed the House, it didn’t make it out of the Senate Education Committee.
She would also like to see parents from other states pay the full costs for their kids attending Kansas schools for the blind and deaf.
Spalding said she would support early intervention programs, such as Tiny K and Parents as Teachers, and early childhood programs such as The Children’s Initiative, which is funded by tobacco money.
“Thanks to a number of legislative efforts, the number of smokers is decreasing and the health of Kansans is increasing,” she said. “However, that means the money collected … is continuing to decrease. For those early childhood programs that have proven the most successful, we need to find a way to continue funding.”
McPherson of Overland Park said he was running because he spoke to an economist who told him his generation would be the first in American history to do worse than its parents’ generation.
He finds the theory unacceptable, because the same resources are available to him that his parents had, he said. The variable is that governments, at all levels, have inserted themselves into the economy, often with devastating results, said McPherson, an attorney.
“Knocking on doors throughout the neighborhood, I have learned that the economy is the top concern of the majority of people in the district,” he continued. “We need to return to limited government and fiscal responsibility, while creating a climate in which small businesses can flourish and create new jobs.”
If elected, he hopes to analyze the state budget and remove inefficiencies, improve the state funding formula for education, allowing local money to go to local schools, emphasize Kansas’ sovereign rights, particularly regarding health care, and evaluate Kansas’ regulatory climate and free the people of Kansas from unnecessary and overly burdensome regulations.