Candidates for national, state and local elections shared their thoughts at a Leadership Butler Candidates Forum Thursday night at The Point Events Center in Augusta.

Candidates for national, state and local elections shared their thoughts at a Leadership Butler Candidates Forum Thursday night at The Point Events Center in Augusta.

Congressman Mike Pompeo began the night by telling those in attendance he was proud the budget deficit had shrunk during his four years in Congress but he isn’t satisfied with how spending decisions are made at the federal level.

“This is not a Barack Obama problem,” said Pompeo, who defeated Todd Tiahrt in a heated primary and is facing far less of a challenge from Democrat opponent Perry Schuckman in the General Election. “This problem has existed for 60 years no matter who has controlled congress or resided in the White House.”

Pompeo said he believed getting spending under control would help accelerate the economy.

Pompeo advocated for closing the borders and said his military experience of working along the Berlin Wall showed you can know who is coming into your country. He also discussed coming home almost every weekend.

He said he enjoyed coming home to Kansas and seeing how policies are affecting people in his district. Pompeo also enjoys speaking to student groups when he is back in the district.

One of the most popular candidates in attendance was the Libertarian candidate for Governor, Keen Umbehr.

His thoughts on moving Kansas to a “fair tax” system were well received by audience members and candidates who spoke later in the evening from both parties.

Umbehr pointed out one of the interesting points of Kansas tax law is business owners don’t pay tax on what they earn. The theory is those business owners will employ more people with the money they save.

Umbehr says that creates an unfair system.

“I believe all laws should apply to all people all the time,” Umbehr said. “I don’t pay taxes on what I earn but 1.4 million wage earners in this state have income taxes taken out of their checks. That just isn’t right and people know it.”

Umbehr was also critical of the lifetime exemption on property taxes for huge wind turbines across parts of Kansas. He said guaranteeing that power has to be purchased from these companies and then exempting them from property taxes on the equipment has led to companies making huge profits while schools in those areas are being cheated out of their fair share of the revenue.

Umbehr also advocated for school choice.

“Public schools do a great job. My kids all went to public school and they are all doing very well,” he said. “But people should have a right to take their children where they want to school. The money should follow the student and not the school district.”

Secretary of State candidate Jean Schodorf told the crowd she hoped to restore the office to the people of Kansas.

“I won’t be a part-time Secretary of State who of goes to all of these other states to work and runs a part-time law firm out of the office,” Schodorf said. “I will be a Secretary of State for the people of Kansas and won’t push an extremist personal agenda and embarrass our state on the national level by playing partisan games with the office.”

Schodorf said when she was in the State Senate she voted for the Kobach secure voting bill. But she says Kobach misled the legislators about how the bill would be enforced and she wants to serve in that office to make the program work as promised.

Other candidates who attended the forum were State House District 12 and 75 candidates.

In District 12, Democrat Eden Fuson is challenging Republican Virgil Peck for the office.

Fuson said her interest in politics began when she was only 16. She said per pupil funding is at 1994 levels and that isn’t an adequate investment in education.

Peck was proud of his vote to fund education and remove the statewide mandate for due process for teachers in Kansas. He said moving the due process issue to the local level was the best policy.

He also said expenditures on education, when retirement programs and other costs are included, have never been higher.

When asked if the legislature would have funded education at the same level without the lawsuit filed by schools against the state, Peck said they probably wouldn’t have.

“You are asking me to read the minds of my colleagues and I can’t do that,” Peck said. “But no, I don’t think the legislature would have put in as much without the lawsuit. And a lot of other things wouldn’t have happened without that lawsuit.”

Democrat Keri Ratliff is challenging Republican Will Carpenter for the District 75 seat.

Ratliff said she got in the race because of April’s education funding bill.

“You don’t mess with a woman’s kids,” Ratliff said. “And they did take away due process. They say they didn’t. But when something is there and you remove it, you took it away.”

She said if the state legislature believed moving due process to the local level was the best idea, it should have taken place in the open and not some last minute, late night deal that no one knew was coming. The measure legislators passed was never debated in committee or the house floor before it was attached to the education funding bill.

Carpenter said he was proud that he hasn’t sponsored or written any bills.

“There are too many bills already,” Carpenter said. “They are clogging the system.”

Carpenter said he likes the idea of a fair tax to replace the income tax, but replacing the entire system is a difficult task.

“There is too much corporate and personal welfare in the state right now,” Carpenter said.