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SPOTLIGHT
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Election '12

Published on -11/4/2012, 12:45 PM

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The Hays Daily News offers the following endorsements for your consideration while at the polls Tuesday.

KANSAS SENATE, DISTRICT 40

With the Legislature's inability to accomplish redistricting earlier this year, many a candidate's fate was determined by the judicial panel that drew the new boundaries. By pushing the 36th District slightly eastward and cramming Ellis County into the 40th, two outstanding incumbent lawmakers are being forced to run against each other.

It is a unique situation. Republican Ralph Ostmeyer and Democrat Allen Schmidt worked together in an attempt to keep the 36th from relocating to Johnson County. Schmidt was viewed as expendable by Democratic leadership that was focused on preserving eastern districts. Ostmeyer was rejected by Gov. Sam Brownback as not being conservative enough during the GOP primary.

Despite Ostmeyer's longevity and Schmidt's relative newness, both senators represent northwest Kansas well. Both work in the best interests of schools, seniors, agriculture and economic development.

Both candidates deserve a return trip to Topeka, but we can only endorse one. We believe Ostmeyer will have a better chance as a Republican to form opposition to the conservative steamroller the governor is creating.

KANSAS HOUSE, DISTRICT 110

While legislators couldn't find a way to accomplish redistricting, they did pass a massive tax reform package that will pull billions of dollars out of state coffers. Brownback believes this will spur the economy; opponents believe it will drive the state into financial crisis. The 110th House district race pits the opposing camps of the income tax reform.

Republicans are offering Travis Couture-Lovelady, who is seeking his first political office. A former staffer for Brownback, Couture-Lovelady supports the tax cuts yet believes schools and social services in western Kansas can be maintained. We don't believe the numbers add up.

Neither does the Democratic candidate, Philip Martin. He understands eliminating potentially one-third of the general budget's revenue will have dramatic effects on the expense side -- and education will suffer.

Although Couture-Lovelady likely has a bright political future, we give the nod to the more experienced and well-seasoned Martin.

KANSAS HOUSE, DISTRICT 111

Eber Phelps, the Democratic incumbent, isn't used to having opposition. In fact, he hasn't had any since 2000. We believe that is testament to his ability to represent the entire district.

His challenger, Republican Sue Boldra, has launched a career as an opponent. The House seat is her third race in three years following a run for Congress and a brief campaign for state Senate.

Boldra is receiving an extraordinary amount of support from the state GOP party and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. The misleading mailers attacking Phelps have had an effect on at least one person -- Boldra herself. She says Phelps is not pro-business as he doesn't score well from the state chamber's perspective.

The reality is that the local chamber of commerce wouldn't score well with KCCI either, as the Hays Area Chamber works on behalf of all businesses in town while the state chamber is focused on large corporations and furthering the Brownbach/Koch Bros. agenda. And Boldra has indicated her full support for the massive reduction in income taxes.

Phelps will work to minimize the economic damage soon to beset Kansas. Opposition to the conservative majority is small enough already; there's no need to eliminate all reasonable debate in the Statehouse.

For these reasons as well as the positive effect he's had on education at all levels, we endorse Phelps.

ELLIS CO. COMMISSION, DISTRICT 2

Republican Barbara Wasinger brings city experience to the table while Democrat Dennis Pfannenstiel is a former county commissioner. Both seek the seat being vacated by Glenn Diehl.

With the county still adjusting to having an administrator -- something that was sorely needed -- the two candidates offer different perspectives. Wasinger favors the system; Pfannenstiel does not. For this alone, we believe Wasinger is the correct choice. It also won't hurt having a female voice at this level for the first time.

ELLIS CO. COMMISSION, DISTRICT 3

While Democrat Dean Haselhorst holds this seat, neither he nor Republican Ron Adams have stood for election until now.

Haselhorst, who was appointed, is beginning to see the value of having an administrator. He supports the current transformation, while Adams believes a different structure is needed. Employee morale does require some attention, but a new system is not the answer. We would offer Haselhorst is better-positioned to ensure the hoped-for efficiencies come to fruition.

ELLIS CO. CLERK

Republican Butch Schlyer envisions expanding the scope of this office should he be elected. Democrat Donna Maskus, currently the deputy county clerk, has been preparing herself for this promotion for 30 years. The expertise Maskus possesses would ensure a seamless transition. Even Schlyer understands this; he has offered to keep Maskus onboard.

This shouldn't even be a contest. We recommend Maskus to succeed the retiring Alberta Klaus, and Schlyer to run for county commissioner next time around.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT

Changes to the state's most important document should not be made lightly. This amendment would lower property taxes on boats, which strikes us as trivial for most Kansans. State officials should enforce existing statutes if they're worried about tax revenue lost to bordering states. A few hundred dollars difference in taxes will be appreciated by a few, but won't affect boat sales at all. We recommend voting "No" to this proposal.

* * *

Remember that polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Be sure to exercise your constitutional right to vote as well as your responsibility as a citizen. We, the people, decide who shall represent us in office.

When you don't vote, your voice is missing from the conversation.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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