The local races aren’t nearly as exciting on the Wyandotte County ballot this fall as they are in Johnson County. But three crucial ones deserve attention. Voters have good reasons to:
— Approve a $235 million, no-tax increase bond issue to improve educational facilities for 22,000 students in Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools.
In addition, voters have the opportunity to elect Democrat Jay Sidie to the U.S. House, ousting incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder.
The bond issue comes at a key time for the Kansas City, Kansas, school district. Superintendent Cynthia Lane has earned a solid reputation for trying to upgrade teaching skills and academic performances in the urban district.
School officials are stressing the fact that the bonds would not require a tax increase. That’s exactly what other districts on both sides of the state line have done for years, with great success. The flip side, of course, is that property taxes would slowly go down as past bonds are paid off if voters reject the new plan.
But in Wyandotte County, which has its share of urban-related ills such as crime and a lower-educated workforce, residents should not turn their backs on this chance to invest in a much better school district.
The district has published lots of information about how the money would be used. They include safety and security enhancements; two new elementary schools and two new middle schools; new playgrounds at nine elementary schools; and plenty of needed maintenance on aging buildings.
In the legislative races, Hutton and Wolfe Moore stand out as solid candidates. Their efforts will be needed in the Kansas Legislature in 2017 to battle any new destructive economic and social policies of Gov. Sam Brownback.
Hutton, an attorney, has the tougher task. A Democrat, he is trying to oust incumbent Republican Steve Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald won his seat in the Brownback-led ultra-conservative purge of more moderate members in 2012.
But Hutton should have the advantage this year. In the August primaries, voters across Kansas shoved some GOP conservative members out of office. Hutton is speaking on on the need to properly support schools, beyond the pablum that Fitzgerald spouts. Hutton has endorsements from the Mainstream Coalition, the Kansas National Education Association and various labor groups.
Wolfe Moore, business director for the University of Kansas Hospital, has been a top-notch fighter for schools as well as for social programs to help Kansans who need assistance.
Nearby, Johnson County voters on Nov. 8 are getting ready to send more Democrats and moderate Republicans to Topeka, continuing to oust ultra-conservative GOP members in the House and Senate.
Wolfe Moore can provide the experienced leadership needed to help new members hit the ground running and get Kansas back on the right track, even with Brownback as governor the next two years.