A former Unified Government commissioner is trying to return Kansas’ 6th Senate District to Democrats’ hands this November.
Education and tax cuts are top issues in the district, which mostly lies in Wyandotte County but also includes parts of Johnson County.
The Nov. 6 general election comes two years after incumbent Chris Steineger of Kansas City, Kan., switched parties to become a Republican in the middle of a four-year term. The challenger, Pat Pettey of Kansas City, Kan., spent more than 13 years on the Unified Government commission before losing a re-election bid last year.
Steineger joined the Republican Party in 2010, saying his views on taxes and the role of government had changed. Earlier that year, he lost a Democratic primary for secretary of state.
Since then, Steineger has voted for the income tax cuts signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback in May. He supported a proposed constitutional amendment intended to block the Affordable Care Act within the state and voted for a bill that would prohibit insurance plans from covering abortion except in life-threatening situations.
As a Democrat, he had voted for an expansion of state health coverage for children and for an increase in the minimum wage.
Steineger did not return calls seeking comment on the race.
Pettey, the Democratic challenger, said she is running on school funding, creating well-paying jobs and improving public infrastructure. She criticized the recent cuts in income taxes, which she said would likely lead to budget deficits and cuts to school funding.
Pettey said some people in the state might save on income taxes, but homeowners in Wyandotte County would end up paying more in property taxes to pay for their children’s education.
“The governor has an agenda that doesn’t support public education, but decimates public education,” she said. “Citizens are going to be the victims.”
Pettey said she would not support legislation to increase the local budget option until the state does more to fund public schools.