To the editor:

How did we arrive at a point where, if another person does not share our personal or political views, that person along with anyone who supports them becomes our enemy and must be vanquished? Some freely throw out accusations knowing full well that it’s impossible to prove a negative. Others derive pleasure over placing people in damned if you do and damned if you don’t situations. As of late, allegiance to a political party and its platform has somehow taken precedence over civil discourse and debate. Being a moderate in today’s political climate has led to labeling individuals as a “RINO” or “DINO” which can and will be used against them in the court of political party opinion.

Supporting one political candidate over another regardless of political affiliation, when both have a record of overall performance should not be very complicated and most certainly should not include denigrating their family members. The campaign between Rep. Jeff Pittman and former Rep. Tony Barton is pretty straightforward and should focus on the decisions they made while in Topeka.

A little over four years ago Barton was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives. While there, he was a staunch supporter of Gov. Brownback and fully supported his agenda. The Brownback tax experiment disproportionately benefited LLCs and also provided income tax relief to others. Unfortunately, the success of the plan was dependent upon large businesses establishing themselves in Kansas. That did not happen. Instead, many individuals took advantage of the experiment by forming LLCs under sole proprietorships and availed themselves of the zero income tax benefit. It wasn’t long before the state began to experience significant budget shortfalls. State government and state supported nonprofit organizations were called upon to reduce their spending and did so, twice. Money was “borrowed” from state legislated trust funds to help balance the budget. Shortfalls continued. Barton voted in favor of the bill that raised sales taxes on food and other consumer purchases which resulted in a broader base of individuals (including the elderly and poor) contributing millions to the state’s income deficit. 

However, the benefits of the experiment continued to elude our state and our debt continued to climb. We were rapidly approaching bankruptcy. During those years, the state of Kansas’ credit rating was downgraded three times. While those who had reaped the benefits of the Brownback experiment applauded, many others realized that continuing the experiment spelled disaster for the state of Kansas.

In 2016, Pittman ran against Barton and the Brownback agenda and won. Rep. Pittman went to Topeka and did exactly what he promised to do. And like Barton, he is unapologetic for his record. Pittman made a commitment to the voters that he would do everything in his power to reverse the unintended consequences of an experiment that nearly bankrupted our state. He, along with the majority in the House and Senate, voted to reverse the tax cuts. Soon, the economy of our state began to improve and has continued to do so during his tenure.

There are those who are relieved that Rep. Pittman kept his word and rolled back the Brownback tax cuts and restored funding to schools. Others are not so pleased with Rep. Pittman. They want Barton to be re-elected so that he can return to Topeka and restore the Brownback experiment and the 2016 Kansas economy.

Here are the most important questions we need to ask as we head to the polls in November. Which candidate will make certain our economy continues to improve? Which candidate will focus on our safety, health, welfare and educational systems? Which candidate will act in the best interests of all people regardless of political affiliation, income, religion, age, sex, disability, race, marital status, gender and sexual orientation? Which candidate cares more about people than their political party?