The "L"shaped 112th District Kansas House District encompasses the northwest, north central, southwest, south central and southeast portions of Barton County. It takes in the towns of Albert, Galatia, Great Bend, Olmitz and Pawnee Rock; and the townships Albion, Buffalo, Clarence, Comanche, Eureka, Fairview, Grant, Great Bend, Liberty, Pawnee Rock, South Bend, Walnut and Wheatland.
There are 20,728 residents and 8,338 households in the district. Of those, 41 percent are 60 and older and 19.9 percent 65 and older.
Incumbent Republican Bill Wolf and challengerDemocrat Christina Stein, both of Great Bend, are facing off in next Tuesday’s general election to fill the 112th District Kansas House seat. Each took time recently to respond to five questions posed by the League of Woman Voters of Great Bend.
Voters in the district, which includes most of Barton County, gave Wolf 2,307 votes and Stein 444 in the August primary.
Wolf, who was first elected to the seat in 2007, replaced John Edmonds. He serves on the Commerce and Labor, Transportation and Agriculture and Natural Resources committees. He has spent most of his life in Barton County working in oil field-related businesses, and was a long-time resident of Ellinwood before moving to Great Bend. He went to college for floriculture, but spend years working is the sales side of the oil industry. He has also been a Methodist lay pastor.
Stein moved to Great Bend in 2007 to take a job as a social worker for Saint Francis Community Services. Raised in Kalkaska, Mich., she has an associates degree from Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, Mich. She completed her degree in social work at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich.
At the present time, Stein is serving as a substitute teacher in Unified School District 428 in Great Bend.
The questions in the LWV questionnaire were:
1. Would you vote in favor of additional coal fired generators in Western Kansas when most energy generated would go out of the state?
2. Are you concerned that additional coal fired generators in Western Kansas would further deplete the already scarce ground water in Western Kansas?
3. What would be your alternative to the sweeping of funds from agencies to balance the budget?
4. With current economic times what would you propose as an alternative action to cutting funds for schools and special agencies, and what plan do you have to assist the agencies to continue to operate effectively?
5. Would you vote for a law that required disclosure of corporate and union spending on candidate elections?
Below are their responses verbatim as submitted and unedited:
1. Export of goods from Kansas to other states (and nations) is generally regarded as beneficial to the state’s economy. This is true whether the product being exported is wheat, soybeans, air craft, or, as in this case, electricity. I am supportive of economic development activities and would likely support power plants which produce power for export. Kansas gets the jobs, the income, and the tax base. The question of fuel type is largely a technical one driven by questions of cost and safety.
2. So long as the water used for power generation is made available by acquiring existing water rights from existing land owners, there should be no net increase in water used. For example, a gallon of water used for power generation would be offset by a gallon of water which is not used for irrigation or some other purpose. If this offset is maintained, I would not have an objection. To put all this in perspective, this water used is less than 1 percent of the water being used annually in the Southwest Kansas Groundwater Management District.
3. I consider the reallocation (i.e. "sweeping") of funds which have been raised by fees or other specifically allocated revenues to the general fund to be an unconscionable practice. I would support a redoubled effort to find budgetary reductions which could be made to balance the budget and avoid the need for "sweeping." I would not support a general tax increase.
4. All state supported agencies, including, but not limited to schools and so-called "special agencies" must develop their budgets with an eye to prioritization of activities and elimination of waste and inefficiencies. The state should consider employing so-called "zero-based budgeting" which requires each agency to fully justify its budget, not merely to provide for marginal annual additions.
5. I am a great believer in the power of sunshine in government. I would support the notion that donors of all types to electoral campaigns should be fully disclosed.
1. The second Holcomb plant has already been approved by Governor Parkinson and is in the planning stages of being built. This most recent coal fired energy plant has many "green" provisions in it, more than other states. The construction and plan of this plant should be used as a model when other plants are built.
On the negative side, 90 percent of the energy from the coal plant will be going out of state, Kansas will benefit little from the coal fired energy. Kansas needs to wait and see the the effects this second plant has on the state, the aquifer, and agriculture before building another. The original proposal called for two new plants, or three total.
2. During the Dust Bowl Kansas had little rain, which created one of the most horrific natural disasters in the history of the United States. Since, the Ogallala Aquifer has been are major supplier of water. This one new Holcomb plant has acquired 30,000 acre feet of aquifer for this project. This aquifer helped us through the Dust Bowl, and helped our agriculture to become what it is today, which is why Kansas would benefit from waiting to see the effects the first new coal plant has on the aquifer, and ground water before rushing into building a series of coal plants. Our aquifer ensures our way of life in Kansas. Mercury pollution could be detrimental to our survival.
3. We need to be looking at short term and long term alternatives. Short term alternatives would be to close sales tax exemptions that are not benefitting the state, such as ridding the state of sales tax exemptions that list people by first and last name. We need to keep tax exemptions that benefit the Middle Class, in terms of bringing jobs to the state. The state taxes the Middle Class and small business too much, and gives to many tax breaks to Billionaires and Big Business.
4. Western Kansas had concerns of school consolidation last year; communities losing their schools, which have become a community base. Ensuring we have good, quality education is a job incubator. No business wants to move to an area with an uneducated work force.
Long term, we need to increase our tax base, so taxes may decrease and funds are accounted for. Increasing our tax base by encouraging businesses who pay good wages to our County, and providing job skills training for business to move here are key. We need to be pro-active in ensuring our state stays competitive.
5. I would, with our recent campaigns it is pertinent we are informed on those who fund our candidates. At a Federal level Republicans and Democrats have been known to be backed by 70 percent of the same corporations. We the people, have a right to know who funds our politicians, and exactly who and what we are voting for.