Democrats face off in Senate Dist. 6 primary
For two Democrats looking to move on to the general election in Kansas Senate District 6, addressing government funding is the top priority.
Former legislator and county commissioner Pat Pettey will face community volunteer Mario Escobar in Tuesday’s primary election for the district that covers the eastern half of Edwardsville. Pettey says she would focus on education and transportation funding if elected; Escobar says the state needs to take a new look at creating innovative partnerships to create funding for necessary government programs.
Escobar, 60, is making his first run for elected office but has been active in the community and a member of the Unified Government’s Planning and Zoning Commission. He said wants to help continue some of the revitalization efforts he has seen in the area.
“It is imperative that these efforts ... be continued and supported from Topeka,” he said. “Projects such as these help address the real life concerns of working families; such families are my focus.”
As a lifelong district resident, a two-term legislator in the 31st District and a 13-year commissioner with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., Pettey, 65, said she had the experience to get right to work if elected.
“The sixth district deserves to have a senator that is in tuned with their needs and ready to serve them and not a personal agenda,” she said.
Pettey said her main goals if elected were to support funding of the state’s transportation program to ensure quality infrastructure and to protect funding for education.
“Without a strong public education system, we will not attract new business because we will not have educated employees to take the jobs,” she said.
Another main issue for Pettey is providing a fair tax code, as she says Gov. Brownback’s tax plan increases taxes on low- and middle-class families, while giving too many tax breaks to wealthy Kansans.
When it comes to education funding, Pettey said she thinks the state should look at property taxes levied for education statewide and not Local Option Budget taxes, which school districts can determine locally.
Escobar agrees education funding is important but says that determining what the “proper” level of funding is for the state’s diverse schools will be difficult. An aggressive approach to tax base-building is the best long-term approach, he said.
The state’s overall funding system needs serious consideration, he said.
“No matter what Republicans say, we cannot tax cut (especially for the wealthy) our way to success,” he said. “We have, I believe, created a template for addressing this key issue in my community, where success has come from establishing innovative partnerships between the private sector, government and the non-profit community. Such partnerships, I believe, can be central to addressing the larger issues of economic development, jobs, public education and safety.”
The sixth district covers Edwardsville east of 102nd Street, as well as areas of Kansas City, Kan., to the east and some of the city of Merriam in Johnson County.
Find each candidate’s complete answers to The Chieftain’s questionnaire online at bonnersprings.com.