Republican Rep. Barbara Bollier and her primary challenger, Neil Melton, expressed opposite views on nearly every issue they addressed Wednesday night in candidate forum at Colonial Church in Prairie Village.
On charter schools, gun control bills, school funding, energy policy and due process for teachers, the two candidates took different stances. They also questioned the funding for their opponent’s campaign. In answering a question about campaign finance reform, Bollier suggested that Melton was funded by Koch brothers money that is being channeled through other organizations, such as the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. Melton said Bollier receives money from organizations that are “pro-government” and want bigger spending.
- Charter schools and tax credits- Melton said he was pleased that the legislature gave tax credits that can be used for private school education. Bollier said she could not justify charter schools, that they are only successful when public schools are failing. That is not the case in Kansas, she said. She voted against the funding bill that gave the tax credits to private schools.
- Due process for teachers – Bollier voted against a bill that removed the state-required due process for teachers this year. Thankfully, she said, local boards such as Shawnee Mission are keeping it in their contracts. “I think we made the right decision to remove it at the state level,” Melton said.
- Gun laws – Melton supported recent gun law changes that negated the Prairie Village ban on open carry and said it was about consistency across the state. Bollier voted against the bill. “This is not the wild west,” she said. The needs of Garden City and Prairie Village might be different, she said, adding constituents have raised questions about guns being openly taken places like the city pool.
- School funding – Spending is at record levels, Melton said, and he wants more efficiency in expenditures. He also supported local control. Bollier said districts should be able to raise more money locally. She backed local control, but equitable funding, and said schools are not adequately funded now.
- Tax policy – Melton said it is too early to tell if the state’s tax cuts are working. Bollier said revenue is a major concern and the tax cuts should be re-evaluated.
Melton several times said he favored free market principles. He said the state is moving in the right direction. In her closing, Bollier pointed to her experience and said Melton’s voting record showed he had only voted in one primary election.
The forum was sponsored by the Johnson County League of Women Voters. A forum featuring Stephanie Clayton and Jennifer Flood, Republican candidates in the 19th district, begins at 7 p.m. tonight at the Rolling Hills Presbyterian Church at 93rd and Nall. Prairie Village Post was represented on the panel asking questions Wednesday.