By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

The mid-term election candidate forum Thursday evening hosted by the Fort Hays State University Student Government Association and Hays Area Chamber of Commerce drew an audience of students, FHSU staff and community members.

Both candidates for state's 111th District House seat -- incumbent Sue Boldra, R-Hays, and challenger James Leiker, a Hays Democrat -- and Jim Sherow, Democratic candidate for representative from the First District in the U.S. House, attended. Greg Orman, Independent candidate for the U.S. Senate, sent a statement to be read.

Leiker said education is the most pressing issue the state faces.

"The generation in the schools right now is termed the first generation that will not have the same opportunities as their parents," he said.

Boldra said the split between urban and rural politicians is the most pressing issue.

She took Leiker to task for his comment saying children won't have the same opportunities as their parents.

"Yes, our classes may be a little bit fuller than they should be, but we will survive, and we will do a great job," Boldra said.

"There should never be policy in an appropriations bill," she said about the school finance bill. "I am upset about the process, and that's what I'd like to change."

Leiker recited the effect the bill had on the Hays USD 489 budget, where he serves as board of education president.

Other prepared and audience questions addressed water, human trafficking, rural housing, the health care compact and taxes.

Sales tax is the fairest tax for everyone, Boldra said.

She isn't sure the state should go to zero income taxes.

The cuts might need to be slowed to "take care of things we need to take care of."

She mentioned education and some social services as examples.

When asked about bipartisan efforts, Boldra said she's proved she can work "across the aisle. I voted against the majority a number of times."

"It's not about being to the far left," Leiker said. "It's not about being to the far right. It's about finding what is best for people."

Sherow, who is running against incumbent Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., also was asked about reaching across the aisle.

He said if elected, he plans to join the No Labels group with members from both parties and Independents.

"The handwriting is on the wall," Sherow said. "If we don't start working together, we're going to face some huge consequences."