Written by Linda Cruse
Kansas City Star
October 29, 2008

Twenty-seven-year old Democrat Mike Slattery will attempt oust Republican Ronnie Metsker in the race for the 24th District Kansas House of Representatives seat.Libertarian Jason Peck also running. Peck did not return answers to The Star's questionnaire or return a phone call.

District 24 encompasses all of Mission, northern Overland Park and parts of Roeland Park. Most recently it was represented by Ed O'Malley and prior to that by Bob Tomlinson

Metsker, 58, is a retired non-profit executive. He has lived in the district 50 years. Metsker's priorities if re-elected are investing in renewable energy sources, biosciences and education.

Slattery is a project engineer with J.E. Dunn Construction Co. He is running to provide the state with "fresh ideas" in the areas of energy, education and health care.

Both candidates support a statewide smoking ban in public places. Metsker also supports banning smoking in bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues, while Slattery believes there should be "common sense exceptions for bars and other entertainment venues."

Metsker favors requiring voters to show a photo ID before being allowed to cast a ballot. He would support free photo IDs for those over 65 and to those who are qualified as lower income. Slattery is opposed to the process, saying that he agrees with Gov. Kathleen Sebelius in encouraging more participation in the democratic election process rather than restricting it. "There have not been any documented cases in Kansas which would necessitate this statutory change," he said.

Metsker would support a bill prohibiting abortion in Kansas if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe vs. Wade. Slattery said he believes there are sufficient restrictions on abortions in Kansas.

Both candidates strongly support all-day kindergarten.

"I have always been a strong advocate of early learning programs," said Metsker. I have made it one of my top priorities after I am re-elected. Slattery said, "All day kindergarten has proven to increase learning and lower costs to the government in the long run."

Both candidates also support an increase in tobacco taxes in order to make health care more affordable for more Kansans, especially those who are currently uninsured. Metsker said increasing the tax should only be temporary and a long-term strategy was necessary for dealing with the issue.

Candidates were divided on the expanded gambling bill approved in the 2007 legislative session. Slattery was in favor of the measure. Metsker voted against the bill, saying he felt larger state revenues were needed than stipulated in the formula that was established in the measure.

Metsker believes the state's support for its regent's universities is about right but added that formulas need to be created to allocate funding for ongoing care of buildings. Slattery said he would have supported Sebelius' recommendations for higher education. "Over the last five years this would have resulted in an increase of $178.7 million or a 26.5 percent increase," he said. "The previous legislature began to address the infrastructure backlog issue, however it was only a beginning."

Both shared opposition to a bill allowing construction of two-coal fired power plants as proposed by Sunflower Electric Power Corporation in the last legislative session. And both oppose an attempt to repeal the law that allows children of undocumented immigrants to attend Kansas colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates.

Neither candidate would support a constitutional amendment limiting budget increases by local and state governments to the annual rate of inflation. Both are satisfied the system by which state judges are selected, with candidates nominated by a committee elected by the Kansas Bar Association, and the final selection up to the governor.