Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville, faces incumbent state Rep. Bill Feuerborn, D-Garnet, in the Nov. 6 general election for Kansas House District 5, which includes eastern Franklin, most of Anderson and western parts of Linn and Miami counties.
Both candidates recently have voiced concerns about the state’s future, particularly Kansas’ economic well-being going into the 2013 legislative session.
“I believe Kansas is at a crossroads,” Feuerborn, 64, said. “The income tax cut the governor and some members of the Legislature passed last year for the wealthy will make it very difficult to fund education and senior programs to keep them in their homes. I believe the push will be to raise local property tax. It doesn’t make sense to cut income tax for the wealthy and to raise property tax for everyone.”
In addition to his aspirations to improve the lives of Kansans, Jones, 37, said his knowledge of and similar values to the constituents in House District 5 are the primary reasons he opted to run for the seat.
“When considering this opportunity, I found that a majority of the people in the 5th District share my values and principles, yet are represented by someone who does not,” Jones said. “I know this place — it is my home. I was raised and graduated from high school and college while living in Wellsville. Keeping my residency in Kansas while in the military and abroad, I gained experience and knowledge that have made me competent and confident for the tasks Kansas is currently facing.”
Before serving 18 years in the Kansas House, Feuerborn spent four years on the Garnett school board and one year acting as board president. Since 2006, Feuerborn, who used to own a convenience store in Anderson County, has served as the ranking minority leader of the House appropriations budget committee, which he said has provided him with valuable experience.
“I take a pretty conservative approach to spending taxpayers’ dollars,” Feuerborn said, adding that he doesn’t support Kansas’ new tax plan, saying it will add to property taxes and take from education and senior program funding. “With the tax plan — if it was fair and equal — I’m all for reducing taxes. But I think we should start with property tax reduction because I’ve felt all along that we’ve had a property tax problem not income tax problem in Kansas. ... To make [Kansas’ new budget] break even on the income tax reduction it’s going to take more than 550,000 new jobs. That’s about half the working people now and those aren’t my numbers those are [the Kansas Legislative Research Department’s] numbers.”
Asked why people should vote for a politically inexperienced candidate, Jones said his vision for Kansas’ future and his ability to lead can make positive changes for Kansans.
“I care deeply about my home state and about its future,” Jones wrote on his campaign site. “I have a vision to see Kansas become a model for our nation. ... Having served in the military, I have lived in many different places and traveled all over. I have never met better people than those in Kansas. Kansas has the greatest people in our nation, and our state should be a reflection of that, not taking advantage of that. I look forward to helping others see and share the greatness in Kansas.”
During a recent candidate forum in Ottawa, Feuerborn and Jones both addressed their priorities if elected to the House. In the discussion, both candidates vowed to maintain adequate funding for education and stated they would vote against any further cuts. The two also agreed to eliminate wasteful spending by the state.
Where the candidates differed, however, were their stances on Kansas’ new budget, which the Legislature’s research group predicts will cause budgetary deficits of $2.7 billion by 2018.
“With this tax plan, again, it comes back to cash flow,” Jones said, adding that he supports Kansas’ new tax plan. “At the federal level we’re dealing with cash flow issues. At the state level we’re dealing with cash flow issues, and at the local level, we’re dealing with cash flow issues. The reason for that is because of the people in the positions of authority prior to now and in the last few years. ... [The tax plan] can work. If you don’t do anything and just sit there and say ‘This will never work. We need to raise taxes,’ that doesn’t leave the power in yours or my hands to actually accomplish something for our state. That takes away our opportunity and says ‘We’ll trust you, government.’”
Feuerborn, who voted against the latest Kansas budget, said the plan shifts the tax burden from Kansas’ wealthy to the middle class and poor.
“Corporations [and] sole proprietorships will pay no income tax — no income tax and money transfers to them — and some of these are multi-million and billion dollar companies. Is that fair?” Feuerborn asked the crowd. “I don’t think it’s fair as a business person that I don’t pay income taxes, but every one of my employees will have to pay income tax. And that’s why I voted no [against the tax plan].”
Asked about the main differences between himself from his opponent, Feuerborn noted his experience in the Legislature, which would reach the two decade mark if he secures a victory in November. That experience, Feuerborn said, will be invaluable during the next two years as the Legislature likely will see many new faces.
“Being [in the Legislature] 18 years, I know the process,” Feuerborn said. “This year, we’re going to probably have between 40 and 50 new state representatives, so it’s going to be a year where you need some experience, and I think that’s what I have. The main thing is a common-sense approach. I think I have respect from both Republicans and Democrats, and I work with both.”
Jones, a strong proponent of Second Amendment rights, said his new ideas and approaches would set him apart from the stale plans of his opponent.
“I bring a fresh face and a fresh vision to Topeka,” Jones said. “I am not a politician, and I don’t speak ‘Topekanese.’ I am durable, energetic, passionate and realistic with proven leadership. I plan to use that to help make Kansas a model for our