by Mary Rupert
Candidates for the U.S. House, 3rd District, offered a wide range of positions on the issues at a forum held Tuesday evening at the Beatrice Lee Community Center, 1210 N. 10th St., Kansas City, Kansas.
One area that most candidates in the crowded field agreed on was the need to change the way the nation handles immigration, although some of their solutions were different. The incumbent, U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-3rd Dist., did not attend the forum. Rep. Yoder has backed $5 billion in funding for the border wall in his subcommittee this week, and was endorsed by President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
At the candidate forum, one Democratic candidate, Sylvia Williams, said she favored a comprehensive approach to immigration law, with a clear-cut pathway to citizenship for those who applied for asylum or those who are here.
Williams is a resident of Leawood who has worked 29 years in the financial field. She has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a Master of Business Administration in finance.
“It’s ridiculous what the country has been going through the past couple of months,” she said.
Tom Niermann, also a Democratic candidate for 3rd District, said the United States has always been a country of opportunity.
Niermann is a teacher from Prairie Village who says he knows what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck.
He supports a clean DREAM Act, which gives a clear path to become a citizen for those already in the country. He also is in favor of in-state tuition rates and municipal IDs, according to his campaign website.
Jay Sidie, of Mission Woods, who was the Democrats’ nominee two years ago for the 3rd District seat, said he wanted to do everything he can to make immigration a fair process for everyone.
He is against separating families, and against putting children in jails or prisons, according to his campaign website.
“It’s really given this country a black eye,” Sidie said about the way immigrants were treated and what has happened at the border. He said that America, with its rapidly aging population, needs immigrants.
Sidie remarked that many people who are elected to Congress run twice, winning the second time. He also advised voters to check the voting records of those running for office, instead of just accepting everything they say.
Chris Clemmons, a Libertarian candidate from Shawnee, Kansas, said drastic reform was necessary for the immigration system.
Clemmons is a teacher in the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools. He will not be on the primary ballot, but will appear on the general election ballot.
“My students were in tears, worried their families would be sent back,” Clemmons said.
Clemmons has stated in his online campaign information that taking children away from their families is an affront to American values. Clemmons favors limiting government’s involvement in Americans’ lives. Clemmons also ran for office in 2014, as a Libertarian candidate for the 2nd Congressional District.
Republican candidate Trevor Keegan said a comprehensive reform was necessary. Keegan, from Lenexa, is with an information technology consulting firm and is a small business owner.
Keegan does not support building a wall, and believes a wall is too expensive. He is in favor of letting “Dreamers” stay in the country as long as they are employed and met the guidelines of the former policy. Keegan believes that “skills-based immigration” would be a good place to begin to solve the immigration situation, according to his campaign website.
Sharice Davids, a Democratic candidate for 3rd District, said anyone who wants should have a clear path to citizenship.
Davids is a lawyer who grew up in Leavenworth and worked as a White House Fellow in the Obama administration transition. A member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, she has lived and worked on Native American reservations.
Davids, a resident of Shawnee, is in favor of protecting DACA recipients, creating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and would work with Republicans to develop a policy, according to her campaign website.
Mike McCamon, a Democratic candidate for the 3rd District, said he supports a clean bill for DACA recipients, with no strings attached.
He is in favor of suspending funding for ICE, (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), according to his campaign website.
He also is against a border wall, would strengthen border protection, is in favor of reuniting families held at the borders, is in favor of a pathway to citizenship for law-abiding people who are undocumented, and would pursue, prosecute and deport immigrants who threaten public safety, differentiating between violent crimes and fraud or illegal presence, according to his campaign website.
“It is driving people into the shadows,” McCamon said about the president’s immigration policy.
McCamon, Overland Park, terms himself as a “progressive moderate.” He is a former executive with Apple, Sprint, Intel and some Kansas City startup companies, and also worked with Bluetooth and WaterParners.
Brent Welder favors a comprehensive immigration reform policy, keeping families together and offering a path to citizenship, according to his campaign information.
Welder, Kansas City, Kansas, is a labor lawyer who has worked in the Bernie Sanders campaign and the Barack Obama campaign.
“Can you imagine a government official going up to a sweet innocent child, tearing him away from his mother as he screams,” he said. “These are the things that are happening right now in our country.”
Welder said it’s a human rights issue.
“It can change and it will change,” he said.
Rep. Yoder, House Homeland Security Subcommittee chairman, said in a news release, “Cartels are trafficking $64 billion a year in drugs and people across our border – and much of it comes through one small stretch at the Rio Grande Valley. This bill takes the largest steps in years toward finally fulfilling our promise to the American people to secure the border. We add funding for more than 200 miles of physical barrier, hundreds of new immigration and customs enforcement agents, and state of the art technology that will give our law enforcement agencies the tools they need to keep us safe. We take concrete steps to keep families together at the border, enforcing our immigration laws humanely and responsibly.”
Many other topics were discussed at Tuesday night’s forum, including health care, the Black Lives Matter movement, and funding for education.
The need for voter turnout
The event Tuesday was called the “No Voice, No Vote” forum, and despite being held in a warm, non-air-conditioned gymnasium where it was sometimes hard to hear what the candidates were saying, there was a fairly good turnout. But are they reaching the voters? Some of those attending the event appeared to be candidates’ campaign supporters rather than residents who are not yet decided. That also was the case with the audience at the 3rd District candidate forum May 24 at Kansas City Kansas Community College. Many of the vehicles in the parking lot May 24 were from Johnson County.
The ability to get voters to turn out in Wyandotte County is important to the Democrats’ chances in the 3rd District.
LaRon Thompson, moderator of the July 17 forum, spoke to the audience about the need for voter turnout on Aug. 7.
“They’re already predicting that 60,000 people that are registered will not vote,” Thompson said. The only way to make a difference is to vote, he said. “We need to vote.”
The sponsors of the Tuesday night candidate forum were Community Health Council, Econ Avenue, Historic Northeast-Midtown Association, KC United, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Kansas City, Kansas, Chapter, NBC Community Development Corp., Northeast Economic Development Corp. and Unity with Purpose.
The Sanders visit and other candidates’ response
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is scheduled to come into Kansas City, Kansas, on Friday to campaign for Welder at 6 p.m. at the Reardon Center. Tickets are required from the Welder website. Also scheduled to appear at the rally is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic Socialist who won a primary victory over an established Democratic incumbent June 26 in New York.
In response to the Sanders’ visit Friday, the Niermann campaign announced that some local government leaders would go door-to-door in the 3rd District on Friday, campaigning for Niermann. The areas they plan to visit include Rosedale.
See an earlier story on the 3rd District campaign at http://wyandottedaily.com/six-democrats-running-for-3rd-district-u-s-representative/.
Stories about this year’s election are under the category, “Election 2018,” at http://wyandottedaily.com/category/election-2018/.
Links to the candidates’ websites, for more information:
Jay Sidie, https://www.jay4congress.com/
Tom Niermann, https://www.niermannforcongress.com/
Sylvia Williams, https://www.sylviawilliamsforcongress.com/
Brent Welder, http://www.brentwelder.com/
Mike McCamon, https://mikeforkansas.com/
Sharice Davids, https://www.shariceforcongress.com/intro?splash=1
Trevor Keegan, http://betterforkansas.com/
Chris Clemmons, http://www.clemmonsforkansas.com/
Kevin Yoder, https://yoder.house.gov/