Authors Posts by Mary Rupert

Mary Rupert


Window on the West

by Mary Rupert

More than a decade ago, a resident walked into a Kansas City, Kan., newsroom and complained, “Why is all the news so negative?”

The editor at the time disagreed with the statement. The news is not all negative, he told him. He took the latest copy of the newspaper and a ruler, and measured the news columns in the paper. As it turned out, there was more positive than negative news on the front page, as shown by the number of column inches allotted to each story. The same was true for the rest of the paper, as well.

The reader had only been looking at the negative headlines, not the positive stories about another resident who won an award, or about some new program being launched that would help the community. Clearly, the news was not all negative. But the reader was drawn to the negative news, leading him to think it was all negative.

Currently, we are in the last seven days before the Nov. 4 election, and it has been, in my opinion, a very negative campaign especially with negative direct mail and television ads. The negative campaigning has been commented upon widely by many persons in both public and private conversations. Just like the reader’s complaint about negative news, negative advertising is also one of perception, with a lot of positive messages not getting too much of our attention. People say they hate the negative ads, but those ads get their attention.

Let’s take a look at these issues covered by the negative ads. The negative ads make it seem like it’s terrible, but is it? They haven’t unearthed very much new information, nor very much valuable information. They’re all pretty lame. Some of them are from outside groups that often are not even in Kansas. They point out:

• According to negative ads, the incumbent Republican governor’s economic policies have failed, and his campaign finance has ties to very conservative donors. Tell us something we didn’t already know.

• One negative ad pounding the airwaves says that the Democratic candidate for governor as a young single man once went to a strip club, at his employer’s request while working as an attorney for the club, where there was a topless dancer. So what?

• Another attack ad on the Democratic candidate for governor tries to link him to decisions of the Kansas Supreme Court, when he was not part of the decisions for those cases. While it calls their decisions liberal, in my opinion, in looking at many, many case summary opinions involving Wyandotte County cases for the past few years, the Supreme Court most of the time has upheld the convictions from here and has been pretty tough. The ad is misleading.

• The incumbent U.S. representative, 3rd District, a Republican, went skinny-dipping in 2011 in the Sea of Galilee, a negative ad points out. Big deal.

• A campaign postcard shows a lot of bad photos of the Democratic candidate for the U.S. representative, 3rd District position, along with saying she voted for tax increases, included in the state budget, while she was in the state Legislature. That ad tells me they couldn’t find anything negative about her.

• One negative ad points out that the incumbent U.S. senator is old and is mostly in Washington, D.C. Besides being age discrimination, gee, what did you expect?

• The independent U.S. Senate candidate, according to a negative ad, is really like a Democrat and is not as conservative as the Republican candidate. It tries to link him to Obama. Like most people in Wyandotte County, I would ask, what’s wrong with that? Obama may have received only 38 percent of the vote in Kansas in 2012, but he received 67 percent of the vote in Wyandotte County. Hmmm, only time will tell what the independent candidate will do, but that Democrat label will appeal to a lot of people in Wyandotte County.

I would advise voters not to consider any of the negative ads. Instead, find the candidates’ positions on issues that are important to you. Then try to match your views on your important issues with those of the candidate’s. Forget any of the personal ad hominem attacks – they don’t matter at all. None of this stuff in the attack ads is enough reason to vote against someone.

What the negative ads really say to me is that the candidate is behind in some of the polls and has been advised to go negative to try to catch up to the other candidate.

The bombardment of negative campaign ads these last few weeks also has inspired me to think of some ways for you to deal with it.

Here are some tips for getting through the negative campaign season:

1. Boots and raincoats went on sale at some stores this past week. Gear up for the mudslinging.

2. The television set has an off switch. Use it. Look into starting your own online webcasts on your own website where you don’t allow negative ads.

3. Temporarily tape or DVR your favorite program, then watch it later, fast-forwarding through the ads.

4. Watch only Channel 19 or old movie channels that have no ads until after the election.

5. File the campaign mailers away immediately in your wastebasket.

6. Go out and meet the candidates in person when they come to Wyandotte County.

7. Check candidates’ websites or social media sites for a response to negative ads. Don’t accept the negative ads at face value. Don’t let them sell you the candidates like they sell a bar of soap.

8. Some candidates may be hoping that you get so tired of the negativity that you will stay home and not vote. Don’t let that happen. Remember, this election needs the votes of everyone, not just a few fanatics, to determine the future of the state and nation.

To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email

Lana Calhoun of the Turner area of Kansas City, Kan., right, showed her photo identification before casting an advance vote this morning at the Election Office, 850 State Ave., Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)
Lana Calhoun of the Turner area of Kansas City, Kan., right, showed her photo identification before casting an advance vote this morning at the Election Office, 850 State Ave., Kansas City, Kan. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)

by Mary Rupert
About 49 people had voted by noon Saturday at the downtown Election Office, casting advance ballots for the general election, according to Wyandotte County Election Commissioner Bruce Newby.

He said more than 200 people voted this morning at the satellite voting site at the Kansas Speedway near 110th and I-70 in Wyandotte County.

There were no lines at the downtown Election Office at 850 State Ave. at midday today, as advance voting expanded to include Saturday hours. Two persons were waiting outside when the doors opened, election workers said. The two voting sites will be open through 3 p.m. today.

The downtown Election Office has been open for advance voting since Tuesday. So far, there have been 691 advance votes cast at the downtown office, he added.

By mail, 4,702 advance ballots have been sent out so far, and 2,163 have already been returned, Newby said.

The two advance voting sites also will be open during weekdays before the election. For the schedule, see the link below.

Newby said he expected voter turnout for the Nov. 4 election to be characteristic of a midterm election. The last two midterm elections were 39.4 percent and 39.9 percent, he said, so his prediction for this election is 40 percent, plus or minus 2 percent.

He’d like to see a higher turnout. “Voters can prove me wrong, and they’re more than welcome to do that,” he said.

Newby said the numbers of people who use the two voting sites for advance voting will be counted, and because of the cost of staffing the office, usage will determine whether it will be offered in the future.

Sen. David Haley, D-4th Dist., who stopped by the Election Office today, said that there are plans to hold a “Get Out the Vote” rally in the downtown area near the Brotherhood Bank parking lot next Saturday. Sen. Haley added there were some things about current elections that he didn’t like, such as more screening of the voters through proving citizenship and showing identification, but he liked the Saturday advance voting hours.

For an earlier story on advance voting and the hours it is available, see

State Sen. David Haley, D-4th Dist., left, chatted with Election Commissioner Bruce Newby this morning at the Election Office, 850 State Ave. (Staff photo)
State Sen. David Haley, D-4th Dist., left, chatted with Election Commissioner Bruce Newby this morning at the Election Office, 850 State Ave. (Staff photo)

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by Mary Rupert
The latest statistics from the Kansas Kids Count survey show a need for more vaccinations for children, including kids in Wyandotte County.

“We’re seeing a decrease in the number of kids who are getting their vaccinations on time,” said Christie Appelhanz, vice president of public affairs, Kansas Action for Children, about the statewide numbers. The survey results were released this week.

The state average has dropped to 61 percent, down from 72 percent in 2012, according to the survey. That reversed a trend from 63 percent in 2009 to 72 percent in 2012.

Wyandotte County is below the state average, with 53 percent of children getting immunizations on time, Appelhanz said.

“Wyandotte County actually has improved slightly in the last five years (on immunization rates),” she said. “It’s up 1.4 percent, very slightly. It’s still below the state average and below where we need to stay healthy.”

Appelhanz said there is a national trend of parents opting out of getting their children vaccinated, but she believes there is a lot of misinformation in society about vaccinations.

“All the scientific evidence says it prevents dangerous disease, prevents illness and even death,” she said. There have been reports around the nation about an increase of diseases that can be prevented by timely vaccinations, she added.

While there is misinformation about vaccinations, if parents ask medical professionals and consult scientific research, they will find that vaccinations are safe, effective and save lives, she said.

According to the study’s findings, poverty may continue to be Wyandotte County children’s greatest challenge, she said.

“This is the first year that free and reduced school lunches went over the 50 percent mark for the state of Kansas,” she said. “In Wyandotte County, 80 percent of public school children are participating in the free and reduced lunch program, which is a sign of the poverty that children in Wyandotte County are experiencing.”

While not statistically significant, a 1 percent increase in Wyandotte County’s free and reduced lunches shows that the trend is moving in the wrong direction, she added.

“One thing that’s good news for child well-being in Wyandotte County is the percentage of elementary schools that offer full-day kindergarten,” she said.

Ninety-two percent of public elementary schools in Wyandotte County offer full-day kindergarten, compared to 86 percent in the state of Kansas, she said.

“This is a great opportunity for children to be on the path to school success,” she said.

In the past few years, Wyandotte County has implemented several programs designed to improve health in the community.

“There are great efforts going on in Wyandotte County,” Appelhanz said. “Change doesn’t typically happen overnight. That is probably something we would look for in the data for the years to come.”

Several other areas are covered by the Kids Count survey. To see more of the survey results, visit