This election campaign, which seems to have been going on forever — at least at the presidential level — is nearing an end. Advance voting is well under way, and judging by the spate of letters about the candidates, a lot of people have made up their minds.
For area residents who still haven’t decided whom to vote for, we offer the following observations and recommendations on state and local races.
Kansas Senate, 22nd District: The candidates are Tom Hawk, a Democrat, and Bob Reader, a Republican. Both men are well qualified. Mr. Hawk is a former state representative and education administrator, and Mr. Reader is a local business owner who for about a decade was involved with K-State’s Institute for Commercialization.
We prefer Mr. Hawk, in part because he served the area well as a House member for three terms and in part because we believe the Legislature needs more people who will actively challenge the policies of Gov. Sam Brownback. We take nothing from Mr. Reader; he is as intelligent, responsible and likeable as his supporters contend. And to his credit, he has not signed one of those “no-tax-hike” pledges, but he almost certainly would be aligned with the conservative wing of the Republican Party. The conservative organizations that invested heavily to smear former Sen. Roger Reitz, a moderate, during the GOP primary are counting on that.
Kansas House, 66th District: The candidates are Sydney Carlin, the Democrat incumbent, and Lee Modesitt, a Republican. This is a rerun of the 2010 race in this district. And as we did then, we urge voters to support Rep. Carlin, but not because we have any qualms about Mr. Modesitt. Our sense is that he is a capable young moderate, and the Legislature certainly could use some moderate Republicans. Yet for the last decade, Mrs. Carlin has worked tirelessly for the benefit of this district — pushing the interests of individual voters as well as institutions like K-State and local businesses. In short, she has earned another term.
Kansas House, 67th District: The candidates are Aaron Estabrook, a Democrat, and Tom Phillips, a Republican who is running for his first full term after finishing the unexpired term of his predecessor. We admire Mr. Estabrook’s commitment to education and fair taxes as much as we do his service to our country in combat. But the 67th District isn’t in need of much change. We support Rep. Phillips, who has served this community in numerous capacities, including Planning Board and City Commission. He is a well-respected, thoughtful and enlightened individual whom we expect will put this community’s interests ahead of partisan interests.
Kansas House, 51st District: The candidates are Ron Highland, a Republican who is a retired veterinarian, and Richard Pikul, a Democrat who runs a successful engineering firm in Wamego. The redrawn 51st District consists of Wabaunsee County and a small part of Riley County as well as portions of Pottawatomie, Shawnee and Lyon counties. Both candidates are capable, but Mr. Highland seems more in tune with the preferences of the district.
Board of Education, 6th District: Both candidates, Republican Deena Horst, a former legislator, and Democrat Carol Viar, a career educator, would serve this broad district well. To their credit, both support evolution in science standards. Ms. Viar might be more up to speed on education issues, but Ms. Horst’s legislative background and contacts give her the edge.
Riley County Commission, 2nd District: The candidates are Democrat Scott Seel and Republican Robert Boyd. We’re attracted to some of Mr. Seel’s ideas, but can’t recommend him, at least until we get to know him better. Yes, he studied at KSU, but he’s been a permanent resident for just two years, and shortly before that ran for the Legislature in a Topeka district. That leaves us with Mr. Boyd, a retired military and airline pilot who is a bit more conservative than we’re comfortable with.
Riley County Commission, District 3: The candidates are Rod Harms, a Democrat, and Ron Wells, a Republican. As Mr. Wells’ advocates point out, he was born and raised in Riley County and is familiar with local issues. The county could do worse. Nevertheless, we recommend Mr. Harms, who’s made a career out of solving problems and helping young people. He isn’t the only reason the Wildcat Creek Watershed is getting the attention it is, but he has been a catalyst in efforts to address flooding problems. We’d like to see him apply his talents to some of the county’s other problems.