The Republican who represents Leavenworth and Lansing in the Kansas Senate is facing a challenge from a Democrat.

The Republican who represents Leavenworth and Lansing in the Kansas Senate is facing a challenge from a Democrat.

Steve Fitzgerald, Leavenworth, is finishing up his first term in the state Senate and seeking re-election. He is being challenged by attorney Bill Hutton, who lives in Wyandotte County.

In addition to the cities of Leavenworth and Lansing, the 5th District includes a portion of Wyandotte County.

Both candidates answered the same questions from the Times as part of a weekly series that focuses on local races.

The election is Nov. 8.


Steve Fitzgerald

Age: 71

Political party: Republican

Occupation: Retired military

Political experience: Incumbent senator, school board vice president, treasurer of Kansas Republican Party, precinct captain


Bill Hutton

Age: 61

Political party: Democrat

Occupation: Attorney/part-time municipal court judge in Bonner Springs

Political experience: Precinct committeeman


1. What issues in state government do you believe are most important to voters in the 5th District?

Fitzgerald: All of the issues that are important to the residents of Kansas with the addition of special issues such as the movement of Guantanamo detainees to Fort Leavenworth, issues concerning the prison in Lansing and corrections personnel, federal issues on the fort and at the U.S. Penitentiary and the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital. This district is special in the amount of federal, state and local issues that are important to the voters.

Hutton: Stable, equitable and adequate funding for our local school districts K-12 and higher education. Fair and sustainable tax policies that relieve the burden on hardworking Kansans. Restoring funding for early childhood education programs and to mental health programs.


2. What new state laws would you like to see introduced, or which existing laws would you like to change?

Fitzgerald: I have been working to get the law changed to make opening the Woodlands racetrack feasible. I am working to get a real time check for vehicle insurance so that we can get uninsured motorists off the road. I was able to get a reduction of sales tax on food into the Senate's tax bill but it was later pulled out in the House — I'd like to go at that again.

Hutton: Revision of current income tax brackets and requiring all corporations and business entities to pay their proportionate share of state taxes.


3. What is the best way to address shortfalls in the state budget?

Fitzgerald: There are two obvious ways: cut spending or increase revenue. We should do both. Government spending in Kansas is fairly high at all levels and we have a lot of efficiency that we can gain. That is not to say that there are not areas that need better funding. Revenue will increase without any increase in tax rates. As the national economy revives Kansas is positioned well to benefit.

Hutton: Develop a sustainable and balanced tax policy that does not place the burden of taxes on the average consumer. All participants in our economy need to share the costs of state services.


4. Why are you the best candidate for the 5th District?

Fitzgerald: I am familiar with the people in Leavenworth and Lansing as Francie and I raised our children here and have been a part of the community. The military and other federal entities are important to our local economy and my experience working on post and on the school board helps. I chair the Senate Corrections Budget Subcommittee and I know what challenges the secretary of corrections is facing in getting better pay and conditions for corrections officers.

Hutton: I am a lifelong Kansan and I will listen to the interests and concerns of all residents of the 5th District and seek their advice and counsel. I do not have a personal agenda, nor will I blindly follow the lead of our current governor. I believe in local control, quality public education for all Kansas children, and tax policies that make sense for the residents of the 5th District.