October 13, 2008
Written by Kansas City Star Editorial Board
Kansas City Star

Candidates elected Nov. 4 to the Kansas House will write the state's laws, decide how to spend its money and help set the direction for energy and health care policy.

Here are The Star's recommendations in contested area races:

District 14 - Republican incumbent Lance Kinzer, an Olathe lawyer, has designated himself the point person for a number of ultra-conservative causes. He pushed an especially harsh anti-abortion bill last session and has proposed clipping the powers of the judiciary. His Democratic opponent, Aunesty Janssen, is an Internet marketer. While short of political experience, her stands on issues, especially adequate school funding, are much more constructive.

District 15 - Political newcomer Sean Tevis designed a web comic appealing for money to challenge Republican incumbent Arlen Seigfreid in this Olathe district. His solicitation became an Internet hit, and Tevis has raised well over $100,000, mostly in amounts of $10 or less. Even without that coup, Tevis is an impressive candidate. His background promoting efficient energy technologies would be valuable. And Tevis would be much more supportive of adequate school funding than Seigfreid.

District 16 - Republican Jim Yonally was a fine legislator before he was knocked out in a primary two years ago. But his Democratic opponent, Gene Rardin of Overland Park, has gotten off to a fast start after winning election by just two votes in 2006. Rardin, a retired electrical engineer and small business owner, has worked with Republican lawmakers to co-sponsor bills and has reached out to constituents of both parties. Both candidates are well-qualified, but there is no reason to oust Rardin.

District 18 - Democrat Cindy Neighbor, the incumbent, is a reliable vote for good schools, healthy citizens and a clean environment. The same does not appear to be the case with her opponent, John Rubin, who would support the controversial coal-burning plant expansion in western Kansas and work to change the method by which judges are selected. Neighbor, a patient care coordinator, is a better fit for this Shawnee district.

District 19 - The race features two candidates with good experience. Democrat Dolores Furtado, a retired university professor from Overland Park, served four years on the Johnson County Commission. That background and Furtado's more progressive stance on energy give her the edge over Republican John Skubal, an Overland Park councilman.

District 22 - Democrat Lisa Benlon, government relations director for the American Cancer Society, served 12 years in the Legislature previously, and deserves a second act. She is a strong voice on education and health care and is a much better choice to represent the Overland Park district than the GOP candidate, Joy E. Bourdess, or Libertarian Greggory Nicholas Hahn.

District 24 - Republican Ronnie Metsker, the recently retired head of a Christian youth organization, has won some fans since stepping in to fill a vacancy early in the term. But Democrat Mike Slattery's interest in energy and environment policy makes him the more appealing candidate. Slattery, a project manager for J.E. Dunn Construction, has expertise in land use and sustainable development.

District 38 - Voters have a chance to make a constructive change in this district, which includes Eudora and parts of Lawrence. Democrat Stephanie Kelton, an associate professor of economics, has a background in employment and price stability that would be of great use in the Legislature. Her ability to research and analyze seems tailor-made for the complex issues faced in state government. She is a strong choice over Republican incumbent Anthony Brown.

District 39 - Voters of this district, which includes parts of Shawnee and Wyandotte County, have an opportunity to replace trenchantly conservative first-term House member Owen Donohoe with a highly qualified Democrat, retired principal Joe Novak. Novak has already studied up on the issues and is an excellent choice.

District 41 - Democrat incumbent Marti Crow of Leavenworth is respected in Topeka and should be re-elected. She is being challenged by Republican Jana Taylor Goodman.

District 42 - Democrat Timothy Moran, a computer programming executive, would best meet the high standards set for this Leavenworth County district by the retiring Kenny Wilk. The Republican candidate, Connie O'Brien, takes extreme positions and would be a poor choice.

District 43 - Democrat Scott P. Snavely, a junior high history teacher and Spring Hill City Council member, is superbly qualified. He would be a welcome replacement for Republican S. Mike Kiegerl, who seeks to use his office to impinge on the privacy of citizens. Libertarian Sheri Stearns is also in the race.

District 48 - Of the two newcomers vying for this Overland Park seat, Democrat Pam Ippel, a data analyst, is better versed on the issues. She is the choice over Republican Marvin G. Kleeb.

District 49 - Democrat Kristi Boone, owner of Gourmet Solutions in Olathe, is making her first run for office. Her positions on the issues are better than those of Republican Scott Schwab. Boone would have opposed expansion of the coal-burning plant as it was proposed, for instance, while Schwab supported it.