Candidates for the 1st District of the Kansas State Board of Education agreed they are passionate about children and education.

Republican candidate Mike Powell and Democratic incumbent candidate Janet Waugh spoke Tuesday night in a forum at the Riverfront Community Center.

Powell and Waugh said they agree post-secondary success should be one of the chief goals of education.

Waugh said post-secondary success is “where the rubber meets the road.”

“This is a seminal moment in our children’s future,” said Powell, who is trying to unseat Waugh, a 20-year member of the Kansas State Board of Education. “Our children’s future demands that we fundamentally change education.”

Powell said that early childhood education is critical. He said a new focus on early childhood education would lead to higher graduation rates.

Powell and Waugh agreed the issue of teenage suicide and teenage trauma should continually be addressed.

Powell said teachers should be compensated “at a level that recognizes them as the professionals that they are.”

Waugh said recent spending cuts in education have had a big impact on schools, but teachers continue to work hard.

“Teachers are heroes,” she said. “To them, it’s not a job, it’s a calling.”

The 1st District of the Kansas State Board of Education is comprised of 17 school districts in six counties, including Leavenworth County.

The forum was hosted and moderated by Brandon Johannes, president of the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce, which hosted the forum.

Tuesday night’s forum was to feature candidates for the Kansas 2nd Congressional District, Kansas governor and the 1st District of the Kansas State Board of Education.

Both of the candidates for the Kansas State Board of Education were present at Tuesday night’s forum. Steve Watkins, a Republican candidate for the Kansas 2nd Congressional District, arrived late for the forum. Paul Davis, a Democratic candidate for the Congressional seat, was not present.

Watkins made a few briefs remarks before departing the event.

“I have a lot of respect for anyone who runs for office, including Mr. Powell, Mrs. Waugh and Mr. Davis,” Watkins said.

Watkins said the campaign has at times been contentious, but he would like to see campaign civility and integrity restored.

He was asked by a member of the audience if he agreed with the agenda of President Trump.

“I support almost all aspects of his agenda,” Watkins said.

The forum was the first of three to be hosted by the Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce in the coming days at the community center.

The forums are being held in the run-up to the midterm elections Nov. 6.

A second forum will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday featuring candidates for the Leavenworth County Commission. Johannes said all four of the candidates for the County Commission will be present at Wednesday’s forum.

A third forum will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 16 featuring candidates for the 40th, 41st and 42nd Districts of the Kansas House of Representatives.

People who would like to ask questions to the candidates can submit questions by email to Johannes at brandon@llchamber.com