By Jacob Jimmerson
Staff reporter

The candidate forum took place at 6 p.m. on October 23rd at Southwestern College in Messenger. The debate involved returning Democrat representative, Ed Trimmer, and the Republican challenger, Larry Alley. Greg Thompson, Chairman of the legislative committee, was the mediator for the debate. There were about 100 people in attendance. The sponsors of the event were the legislative committee of the Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Cowley First, and the Arkansas City Chamber of Commerce. Election Day is November 4th.

The first thing to take place was each candidate was able to begin with an opening statement that was five minutes long each. Ten year representative Ed Trimmer was the first to speak. He went on to explain that he likes to seek out facts and try to make a positive impact on the community. Trimmer said, “I will not try to use labels and negativity to win over the voters. I am going to be positive. Also, I will be accused of being bi-partisan, but I am not, most of my bills are committee bills.”

Challenger Larry Alley said his opening statement next. Alley said, “I have gone through the communities door by door asking civilians what the major problems are to them and what they want fixed. I will work with other parties to come to good decisions. Ed Trimmer and other Democrats passed the biggest tax raises in Kansas history.” Alley went on to explain how he was a small business owner and knows how taxation can kill jobs.

The first question that was brought up was about the current state tax laws and about the tax cuts taking place and the effects of them. Alley was the first to respond. Alley said, “It is always better when we can have money in our pockets. As much as Ed does not want to admit that I think it is so. I will make sure that we make a good budget in Topeka.”

Trimmer was the next to respond. Trimmer fired back, “Larry’s trickle-down theory that he has is not working. It has not worked at any time in history when it has been attempted. Also, I did not vote to increase your taxes, I voted to avoid unnecessary big tax cuts. We wouldn’t be able to afford education or roads with those tax cuts.”

The second brought to the forum was about gun control. Moderator, Greg Thompson said, “What are your views on gun control and the second amendment?” Trimmer said, “I voted for conceal carry and I am for the second amendment. However, a judge should be able to choose what is allowed in his court room. I also think this should be more of a local control issue, especially for colleges.”

Alley then got to respond. He said, “As a member of the NRA I will protect our second amendment right. Ed voted for local control of gun control. This could infringe on our rights with the second amendment.”

The next question brought up was about school funding. Alley said, “Kansas has great schools. So, more money should go into the classroom and the teachers. There is 200,000 extra dollars going somewhere other than to the teachers per each class room. We need to improve the state finance formula.”

Trimmer was next to respond. He said, “I supported the bill all the way through, but they added stuff we didn’t like. They were not good things for the bill and were not helpful for the community at large.”

Greg Thompson continued to ask the next question. He said, “What is the best way to grow and improve the economy?” Trimmer said, “I think that the government does have a role in it, but only so much of one. We can’t give companies tax breaks for free. We need to give them an incentive that if they create jobs, then we will give them tax breaks.”

Alley then countered and said, “We need to keep our taxes low, grow our jobs, and make sure that we keep our people working. Our jobs have grown by 55,000 over the last few years, which mean more people have jobs, which means more money for the state. We cannot increase the income tax for our people.”

The next thing brought in was the common core idea for students. Alley said, “It is a failed attempt of a program. It is a one size fits all idea and not all students can learn the same. We need to increase local control for the parents and the schools.”

Trimmer then responded, “This test is not nationally mandated, it allows the states to decide what is on the test. This is not a teach the test approach like Larry said. You can’t make the claim that this is a failure when we have not even done the program yet.”

The night ended with some heated closing arguments. Mediator Greg Thompson had to jump in and tell the crowd to quiet down. Larry said, “I am optimistic about the future of Kansas. I want to see growing opportunities for everyone. Trimmer has been in Topeka for ten years and we have seen population decrease, education cut, and taxes increase. Elect me on November 4th to see a change.”

Trimmer had a lot to say as well in his closing argument. He fired away and said, “Actions speak louder than words. The mailers that Alley sent you show what type of leader he will be. When you run negative ads, you can’t be a good leader. You can’t just sit in the playground and call people names. I know what it takes to be a good leader and I will continue to be one if you give me your vote November 4th.”

Jacob Jimmerson is a sophomore majoring in Communication. You may email him at Jacob.jimmerson@sckans.edu