By Jonathan Lane
On Sept. 29 The Cowley County Legislative Committee hosted a candidate forum for Kansas House of Representatives District 79 at which Representative Cheryl Helmer (R) and challenger Ken White (D) spoke on different issues.
Though no decisions were made, the candidates presented their views on important topics such as: the state’s response to COVID-19, the schedule of voting for important bills, education and parent involvement.
Mediator Cheryl Rude, professor in leadership studies and academic director of leadership Southwestern, fed questions to the candidates as well as fielded questions from the audience.
When asked “How do you view the states response to the COVID-19 pandemic?”, Helmer stated, “There was no plan, no warning for schools, busses, superintendents… There was not a good system for teachers”.
White said, “There’s been a lack of leadership from the top down… The governor actually stepped up with a plan, but, in my opinion, legislature was more threatened by giving her the power, than letting her do anything about it”.
Another pressing question asked was, “If you believe that Kansans should vote on the legality of abortions, then why would you schedule the vote during the primary where fewer people vote?”.
Helmer said, “That wasn’t my personal opinion, that was left up to Kansans for Life. Kansans for Life legislators chose that time to vote and they thought more people who were interested in that vote would pick that time to come out to vote”.
White stated, “This was a missed opportunity. This is a very emotional, issue needless to say. I personally would have supported an amendment during a general election”.
Another question asked was, “To what extent should parents have input into their student’s curriculum and education?”
Helmer said, “Our goal should be to make sure that parents have the biggest opportunity to guide and to choose their children’s education, and also to make choices and be involved all along the way… Our goal should be to make sure those children have all the money they can heading in towards the classroom”.
White said, “I agree with that answer. I think the greatest investment we can make in Kansas and for the future of Kansas is in our children.”
The two candidates are both set to appear on the ballot in the November general elections.