State Rep. Debbie Deere is being challenged by David French in the race for the 40th District of the Kansas House of Representatives. The 40th District includes Lansing and a portion of the city of Leavenworth. Election Day is Nov. 6. The two candidates answered the same questions submitted by the Leavenworth Times.
Party affiliation: Democratic
Occupation: Business owner/executive director at A Deere Place Childcare & Preschool Center (1993-present)
Political experience: Kansas House of Representatives District 40 (2016-present), USD 469 Board of Education (2011-present)
Party affiliation: Republican
Political experience: BA in political science; Leavenworth County Republican Party campaign headquarters co-chairman (2016); Republican precinct committeeman for Lansing Ward 4 (2016-present, just reelected)
1. Why are you the best candidate for the 40th District?
Deere: I am a sixth generation Kansan, having grown up on a farm in northeast Kansas. I have lived in District 40 for the past 30 years. My husband, Kyle, and I have raised our three children here, worked, owned a business and are proud to call this our home. My experiences, involvement and commitment to this community and the state of Kansas help me make a difference in the Kansas Legislature. I am dedicated to listening to my constituents and being your voice.
French: I am a true conservative who believes in reduced government interference in our lives and in lower taxes to keep more money for our needs and not the government’s ever expanding spending programs. I believe all Americans are exceptional people with the opportunities to meet their life goals and aspirations. I have an MBA in business management, a 26-year career as a military intelligence Army officer and 17 years as a military contractor dealing with developing proposals for business and then tracking deliverables on contracts.
2. What will be the most important issue of the next legislative session?
Deere: I feel there are multiple issues that will be important next session. Continuing our state on the path to fiscal recovery is crucial. Funding public schools adequately must be a priority, providing additional funding for social service programs in our community and statewide, expanding Medicaid in Kansas to allow 150,000 additional Kansans to receive health care services. Continuing to support public safety, including the new Lansing Correctional Facility construction project, supporting infrastructure and creating jobs.
French: Keeping a balanced budget but not by raising more taxes but by cutting unneeded spending. Our education system is broken and our children are not being prepared to become productive citizens. Continuing to throw more money at it will not improve the results. We have to stop the education lobbyists and Kansas Supreme Court from dictating to the Legislature the amount of money the state needs to provide to education. There is plenty of money going to education (62 percent of the entire state budget).
3. What changes would you support regarding state funding for education?
Deere: Rather than a change, I will remain committed to support funding for public education in Kansas. It is our responsibility to provide an adequate and equitable education to every student. Schools are the “heartbeat of our communities.” Economic development and quality schools go hand in hand. By continuing to make investments in our schools a priority, we are investing in the future of our state.
French: As I stated above, the problem is not enough money for education but how that money is being spent. There is too much money going into administration costs and buildings (overhead) and not enough getting down to the teachers and classrooms where the real education begins and ends. Teachers are having to not only teach but parent their students in many cases. Early social/emotional needs have to be addressed before they become counterproductive in the classroom.