instagram arrow-down
The Kansas Leadership Center Journal

Menu

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Three candidates vying for competitive Johnson County House seat

A decade ago, Kansas House District 17 flipped from blue to red and it has remained represented by a Republican ever since. Rep. Tom Cox won the Johnson County district four years ago but chose to run for a Senate seat in 2020. He lost in the August primary for that post.

Cox easily won the 2016 general election and was re-elected  by a few hundred votes two years later. But voters in the district, which includes parts of Lake Quivira, Lenexa and Shawnee, narrowly supported Hillary Clinton for president in 2016 and overwhelmingly backed Laura Kelly in the 2018 governor’s race. Where will their  loyalties lie in 2020?

Here’s a look at how the three candidates vying for the seat answered several questions from The Journal about key issues in this year’s elections:

Kansas House District 17

Jo Ella Hoye (Democrat), Kristine Sapp (Republican) and Michael Kerner (Libertarian)

Jo Ella Hoye

Jo Ella Hoye Kansas House

Please briefly introduce yourself.

I am a stay-at-home-mom and committed public servant. I’ve held various local government management positions in the public, private, and non-profit sectors; most recently as a Senior Analyst in the Johnson County Manager’s Office. I volunteered for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America for over three and a half years, including as Kansas Chapter Leader. Our strategic team moved the needle on gun safety in Kansas with bipartisan support. My continued presence at the Statehouse influenced the passage of sensible gun legislation, earning me the nomination by Everytown for Gun Safety for the 2018 Professional Women in Advocacy Excellence in Advocacy of a State Issue Campaign Award. I am involved with the Shawnee Mission School District’s My Volunteer Pal program, I serve as Vice President for Ways and Means of the Rising Star PTA, and I’m Vice Chair of the Lenexa Planning Commission. Born in Lincoln, NE, I’m a graduate from Nebraska City High School and Cornell College. I earned my Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Kansas. My husband, Brian, and I live in Lenexa with our third grader, William, who attends public school at Rising Star Elementary. 

If elected this fall, what would be your top priority while in office?

Our pandemic response must be safe and equitable. The health and safety of Kansans is the priority, and I will use the best information available from public health officials to guide our response. All Kansans need access to healthcare, now more than ever. We must close the coverage gap and pass Medicaid Expansion. Economic hardships must also be addressed. Kansans need support for basic necessities, childcare, and housing. I will fight for working families. Our businesses are hurting, as well. We must pay as much attention to our small, local businesses as we do our big, corporate businesses. 

These are tough times. Kansans will likely need elected officials willing to lead on a number of difficult challenges. As an office holder, how will you work in service of helping us navigate this period of distress and strengthen our communities, state and nation for the long term?Please share your thoughts in a few sentences.

I agree with Governor Kelly’s measured, compassionate leadership. She prioritizes the health and safety of Kansans and uses the best information available from public health officials to guide the State’s response. Governor Kelly is helping us persevere through this disaster without relentlessly casting blame. I will work with Governor Kelly and the Kansas Legislature to unite the Sunflower State throughout this difficult time. I will provide a platform for input and participation so that the voices of my constituents and the business community are heard in Topeka. Our goal is to get back to business as usual; and we must do so safely, responsibly, and respectfully.

What’s the biggest problem in health care right now?

It’s too expensive

How do you feel about the current level of government involvement in health care?

It’s not involved enough

What should the future of health care be in your view? Would you prioritize making it more affordable, more accessible, or something else? To what extent should the government be involved, and should it be doing the same, less or more than it is now?Please explain your views in a few sentences.

Kansas must close the coverage gap and make sure that all Kansans have access to healthcare. The Medicaid rate was finally increased in 2019, but it was only increased to where the state was ten years ago. Our lawmakers failed to pass Medicaid Expansion again in 2020. Kansans need access to affordable healthcare and prescription drugs now more than ever. I will be an advocate for Medicaid Expansion when I take office in 2021. We need lawmakers who will make sure that we utilize the services that the Federal Government offers such as the Excellence in Mental Health Centers Act. Kansas currently receives zero dollars, because we chose not to participate. We are missing out on billions of federal dollars for healthcare that should be used right here in Kansas. Medicaid Expansion will boost the economy and create over 4,000 jobs. This will help make healthcare more affordable and more accessible. 

How should the Legislature resolve the ongoing debate about Medicaid expansion?

The Kansas Legislature should swiftly pass Medicaid Expansion in the 2021 session.

In a few sentences, please explain your thinking on how the Legislature should resolve the Medicaid Expansion debate and your views on the issue.

I support and will vote to expand Medicaid. 

What should government’s role be in facilitating economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic? Are there specific things you would like to see done or not done?

We should accept Federal assistance, when available. We should modernize our core services so that we can keep up with unprecedented unemployment claims. I do not want to see Kansans evicted from their homes; we must provide housing assistance and help keep people in their homes. Working families are worried about childcare, and the State should help to offset the burden that families are facing. The government should have a very active role in pandemic recovery efforts. 

What would you prioritize when dealing with shortfalls in revenues that fund state services? What would you do about taxes? How would you deal with the state budget’s funding for K-12 education?

I support our commitment to continue to work toward adequate school funding through 2023. Education must be a priority. Budget shortfalls are expected, but Kansans cannot afford a tax increase. In fact, we should work to reduce the food sales tax. My priority areas are education and transportation. Cuts to other services may be significant. As a former Senior Analyst in the Johnson County Manager’s Office, I have the public budgeting experience to help get us back on track. 

The pandemic further exposed a lack of broadband access in parts of the state and other divides in access to Internet service. What do you think should be done?

The IKE Transportation Program includes expanding broadband access across Kansas. I listed transportation as an important budget priority, because we need to make sure that students and workers have access to broadband. We need to move forward on this project. 

How would you evaluate the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Kansas thus far?

Too little has been done to stop the spread of the virus.

Should the COVID-19 pandemic continue into 2021, what would your top priority be?

Economic recovery after the virus is contained

What key lessons would like to see Kansans take away from the pandemic and the response to it? Do you see the need for changes as a result of what’s happened?

Unfortunately, we were already on the road to a recession prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Kelly balanced the budget with an ending balance to cover for unpredictable issues that could arise. We have learned some hard lessons as we were finally edging toward a restoration of the core functions of our state government only to be faced with unprecedented budget shortfalls. We must take what we have learned over the last few years so that we are prepared for future hardships, and we must not let our state departments and services be devastated by drastic cuts to our most essential services. 

How should legislators respond to the events of this summer (such as the prison outbreaks of COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter protests and concerns about preserving law and order) in shaping the state’s criminal justice system for the future? 

This is a crucial moment for racial justice in America. I support Black Lives Matter, and I believe that we ask police officers to do too much. We must support local law enforcement by helping them fund regular de-escalation training, crisis intervention services, and staff such as mental health first responders. Officers who ultimately use force often show warning signs. We need early intervention systems, and we must hold officers accountable for disproportionate use of force. Kansas was once a national leader in justice reinvestment. Now, our lawmakers face the challenge of recovering from years of neglect that resulted in sending incarcerated Kansans to private prisons outside of our state; this cannot be a permanent solution. Kansas should find opportunities to provide nonviolent drug offenders with treatment rather than incarceration and invest in alternatives that are more effective for rehabilitation than long prison sentences. Our justice system is in distress, and I believe that we are imprisoning too many people. It is essential that we find solutions to overcrowding in prisons and restore criminal justice best practices. There is room for reform without putting our communities at risk. 

Kristine Sapp

If elected this fall, what would be your top priority while in office?

My top priority, while in office, is getting our economy back on track while continuing to safely navigate through the current pandemic. Covid is a real threat especially to our older generation but a continuation of a lockdown is not reasonable. We now have months of data that proves we can open safely with proper protocols in place. I have the utmost respect for our frontline workers- healthcare, grocers, truck drivers, etc., but in my opinion, all jobs are essential. We all have the right to work, provide for our families, feed our children and pay our bills. We cannot depend on the government for continuous unemployment and stimulus payments. It is not feasible nor responsible. Covid is all-encompassing, it is not just a physical health crisis, it is also causing economic and mental devastation for adults and children alike. We must push forward, find balance and continue getting Kansans safely back to work and our kids back in school.

These are tough times. Kansans will likely need elected officials willing to lead on a number of difficult challenges. As an office holder, how will you work in service of helping us navigate this period of distress and strengthen our communities, state and nation for the long term?Please share your thoughts in a few sentences.

During times of adversity and confusion in my community, I have a proven track record of being a uniter, not a divider. Fear is an easy emotion to latch on to, but I refuse to lead by fear. I will lead by example, I am cautious but fearless and I am driven to find amicable solutions. Regardless of the topic or issue on the table, I will always insist on transparency, accuracy, and accountability.
What’s the biggest problem in health care right now?

I believe there is a wide variety of issues with health care and it depends on who you are speaking with. Those who have private insurance have grievances and those who have government healthcare have issues as well. It’s a complicated topic and will take diligence and commitment to find long term solutions.

How do you feel about the current level of government involvement in health care?

As I stated above, there are many issues that need addressed. We need to fix the system now with sustainable long term solutions before adding additional layers.

What should the future of health care be in your view? Would you prioritize making it more affordable, more accessible, or something else? To what extent should the government be involved, and should it be doing the same, less or more than it is now?Please explain your views in a few sentences.

Health care should be both more affordable and more accessible. The people who truly need government health care should have access to it but I feel we must fix the current issues before expanding.

How should the Legislature resolve the ongoing debate about Medicaid expansion?

I’m undecided at this point for reasons stated above. 

In a few sentences, please explain your thinking on how the Legislature should resolve the Medicaid Expansion debate and your views on the issue.

We need to dissect and reevaluate the current issues we’re having, find solutions and then revisit Medicaid Expansion.

What should government’s role be in facilitating economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic? Are there specific things you would like to see done or not done?

I would prioritize financial assistance as well as providing liability protection and consistent guidance based on the latest factual data we have. We can no longer function in a “what if” environment. We must move forward. We must encourage and assist our businesses in reopening. We’re also still in a position to grow and foster a positive business environment by reducing and/or removing burdensome regulations and provide incentives for businesses that relocate to our state. 

What would you prioritize when dealing with shortfalls in revenues that fund state services? What would you do about taxes? How would you deal with the state budget’s funding for K-12 education?

We definitely need to cut back on spending but this is an in-depth question that I can’t answer at this time.

The pandemic further exposed a lack of broadband access in parts of the state and other divides in access to Internet service. What do you think should be done?

No response received.

How would you evaluate the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Kansas thus far?

No response received.

Should the COVID-19 pandemic continue into 2021, what would your top priority be?

No response received.

What key lessons would like to see Kansans take away from the pandemic and the response to it? Do you see the need for changes as a result of what’s happened?

No response received.

How should legislators respond to the events of this summer (such as the prison outbreaks of COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter protests and concerns about preserving law and order) in shaping the state’s criminal justice system for the future? 

No response received.

michael kerner kansas house

Michael Kerner

Please briefly introduce yourself.

I am a 73 year old retired engineer. I had a 49 year career in engineering. I am a widower with 3 children and 4 grandchildren. My strongest value that informs my decisions is individual freedom. 

If elected this fall, what would be your top priority while in office?

The lockdowns have caused catastrophic damage to our society and economy. We need to work our way out of the deep hole it created. We need to put safeguards in place so we don’t suffer from runaway executive orders ever again. 

These are tough times. Kansans will likely need elected officials willing to lead on a number of difficult challenges. As an office holder, how will you work in service of helping us navigate this period of distress and strengthen our communities, state and nation for the long term?Please share your thoughts in a few sentences.

There is no magic cure for the damage done by the government. All parties will have to work together to find a path back to normal. We lost months of productivity and that is not fully replaced by federal printing press dollars. 

What’s the biggest problem in health care right now?

Government intervention over the last 50 years has increased the cost and reduced availability of medical care. The free market is the only hope. Government created monopolies must go. 

How do you feel about the current level of government involvement in health care?

It’s too involved

What should the future of health care be in your view? Would you prioritize making it more affordable, more accessible, or something else? To what extent should the government be involved, and should it be doing the same, less or more than it is now?Please explain your views in a few sentences.

A free market always produces the best results. It will take some time but getting the government out of health care is a long term need. 

How should the Legislature resolve the ongoing debate about Medicaid expansion?

It should not pass Medicaid expansion.

In a few sentences, please explain your thinking on how the Legislature should resolve the Medicaid Expansion debate and your views on the issue.

Medicaid expansion is the wrong way to go. It will burden taxpayers and raise the cost of care to everyone. 

What should government’s role be in facilitating economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic? Are there specific things you would like to see done or not done?

The lockdown was a serious mistake, not warranted by the dangers of the disease. That cure was much worse than the disease. All restrictions should be lifted immediately so we can get our economy moving again and get everyone working and earning again. I would like to see some punishment for the people who imposed such illegal restrictions, but I doubt that will be possible. 

What would you prioritize when dealing with shortfalls in revenues that fund state services? What would you do about taxes? How would you deal with the state budget’s funding for K-12 education?

I would promote full school choice, so parents can choose to leave the public schools and go to their choice of charter, private, parochial or home school. Vouchers for this will be much cheaper than our current expenditures on schools that have failed us in the recent emergency.

The pandemic further exposed a lack of broadband access in parts of the state and other divides in access to Internet service. What do you think should be done?

Satellite service is available everywhere. I don’t believe that it is the function of government to subsidize anyone’s internet service but it would help if they stopped taxing the carriers. 

How would you evaluate the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Kansas thus far?

There’s been an overreaction.

Should the COVID-19 pandemic continue into 2021, what would your top priority be?

Keep the economy going.

What key lessons would like to see Kansans take away from the pandemic and the response to it? Do you see the need for changes as a result of what’s happened?

The excessive restrictions were the result of one dimensional thinking. They saw only stopping the virus but did not see the damage done by the restrictions. We need to establish protections against executive order runaway in the future. It will take years to work our way out of the economic hole created. 

How should legislators respond to the events of this summer (such as the prison outbreaks of COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter protests and concerns about preserving law and order) in shaping the state’s criminal justice system for the future?

My to-do list for criminal justice reform is: 1. End qualified immunity. 2. End the drug war and the no-knock raids that it has caused. 3. Send home the 20% of Kansas prisoners in for drug only charges. 4. End civil asset forfeiture.

Navigating the Pandemic Election

How to Vote and Be an Engaged Citizen During a Time of Disruption, Conflict and Uncertainty A KLC Journal Magazine Virtual Launch Event and Discussion Join us from 5-6:15 PM. on Thursday, Oct. 22, for the virtual release of the KLC Journal magazine’s Fall Edition with a focus on issues and voting in one of the most unusual elections most of us have ever seen.