Opinion: It’s the primary election – we must vote

State Sen. David Haley

Guest column

by State Sen. David Haley

Newspaper readers are more prone than others to vote each time, every time an Election and the resulting opportunity to be heard (and represented) presents itself. That’s a good thing! Thank you. But, since this Primary Election is so crucial, I wanted to ask news readers to bring a family member or neighbor or friend to the polls with you, too.

Many Election-related standards are gauged by the strengths-weaknesses exhibited in this Primary election turnout. Why only vote for U.S. President every four years?
Advance voting (by mail or at the Elections Office, 8th and State Avenue, or the Satellite Office, near State Avenue and 110th), has begun. It is estimated that one-third of ballots will be cast in advance.

Below is a brief primer from the Election Office, which is represented neutrally and without endorsement of any candidate or even political party by me, that I would personally appreciate your, the reader, sharing with our only occasionally voting family member or neighbor or friend. Please?

What is a Primary Election?

The Primary Election is this Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. This election is held for the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. It is the opportunity for members of each Party to choose their candidates who will advance to the General Election, Nov. 4, 2014.

As a Party election, the political parties set the rules for who is eligible to vote their Party ballot.

 Voters affiliated with the Democratic Party vote a Democratic Party ballot.
 Voters affiliated with the Republican Party vote a Republican Party ballot.
 Voters who are not affiliated with either Party must affiliate to be eligible to vote a Party ballot.
 Voters who are affiliated with the Libertarian Party are not eligible to vote in either Party election. Libertarian Party candidates have been selected by caucus. Libertarian Party voters may be eligible to vote in a non-partisan special election, such as the sales tax election in the city of Edwardsville.

Why should I vote?

Besides all of the obvious reasons, you should know there are some very interesting races on both Party ballots this year.

The Democratic Party ballot has:
 Two nominees for United States Senator. The contenders are Chad Taylor and Patrick Wiesner.
 Two nominees for United States Representative. The contenders are Kelly Kultala and Reginald (Reggie) Marselus.
 Three nominees for District Court Judge, Division 11. The three candidates are Timothy L. Dupree, Courtney Mikesic, and James T. Yoakum.
 Many precincts will also be electing precinct committeemen and precinct committeewomen. The Primary is the only opportunity for party voters to elect their party precinct committee.

The Republican Party ballot has:
 Four nominees for United States Senator. The nominees are Pat Roberts, D.J. Smith, Milton Wolf, and Alvin E. Zahnter.
 Two sets of nominees for Governor/Lieutenant Governor. The nominees are Sam Brownback/Jeff Colyer and Jennifer Winn/Robin R. Lais.
 Two nominees for Secretary of State. The nominees are Kris Kobach and Scott Morgan.
 Five nominees for Commissioner of Insurance. The candidates are Beverly Gossage, David J. Powell, Ken Selzer, Clark Shultz, and John M. Toplikar.

 Many precincts will also be electing precinct committeemen and precinct committeewomen. The Primary is the only opportunity for party voters to elect their party precinct committee.

For more voting information, including complete candidate lists for both parties and all races, visit www.wycovotes.org, www.wycokck.org/election, or call 913-573-8500.

Column: Governor promotes his pro-growth policies

Views West
by Murrel Bland

Lower taxes. Less regulation. More business growth.

That was the message that Gov. Sam Brownback brought to the Congressional Forum Friday, July 18, at the Reardon Convention Center. The Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors the forum.

The speech was not billed as a campaign stop. However, all of the about 150 persons who attended the event were well aware that Brownback is in a fight for this political life as he seek a second four-year term. He will face Jennifer Winn of Haysville, a small town near Wichita, in the Primary Election Tuesday, Aug. 5.

The only Democrat candidate for governor is Paul Davis of Lawrence, a member of the Kansas House of Representatives and a lawyer from Lawrence. The general election will be Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Brownback was quick to say that during his tenure as governor, Kansas increased its private sector jobs by 55,000—the highest that it has been in the history of Kansas. At the same time, Brownback said state public sector jobs in Kansas have been cut by 3,000.

The governor said the state is in much better fiscal shape than when he took office. He said just before he took office, the state general fund had a balance of only $876.09; in fiscal year 2013, that fund balance was about $500 million.

A hallmark of Brownback’s administration is a sweeping income tax reduction—something that Brownback says will stimulate the state’s economy. He said that something dramatic has to be done to stop the decline in the state’s population. In 1960, Kansas ranked 29th among the 50 states in population. In 2010, that ranking was 33rd. And, projections are that in 2030, Kansas will drop to 35th.

Brownback’s critics, including some very prominent moderate Republicans, says that the state has always had a strong fiscal policy with a balance among three main tax sources—property, sales and income. These same critics say lower the income tax, particularly for the wealthy, is not a good policy. Brownback counters by saying lower income tax will attract those who will go into business for themselves. Several of these moderate Republicans have endorsed Davis. Political observers point out that there is a very serious split in the Republican Party with moderates supping Davis and the Tea party crowd backing Brownback.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that tax collections fells by $685 million during the first 11 months of this Brownback fiscal policy. Moody’s Investor Service recently downgraded the state’s debt rating.

Brownback blames the Obama administration and its excessive regulation for the lower state collections. He cited the Environmental Protection Agency’s rules that are forcing electric utilities to charge more.

Brownback says that the nine states with no income tax are the ones that have seen more economic growth. These include states such as Texas, Florida Wyoming and Alaska. However, his critics say that it is important to look at these states more closely. Most of them collect substantial tax revenue from mineral and oil production or tourism or both.

One of Brownback’s program to boost rural counties that have lost population is to waive income tax for college graduates who would move to the area and also help them pay their student loans. He said he hopes to create a similar program for urban areas such as Kansas City, Kan.

A person in the audience asked Brownback if he still had any plans to run for president.

“I just want to get re-elected governor,” he said.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.

Opinion: A new ‘best’ among grocery stores in KCK

A new Price Chopper store opened Wednesday, July 16, at 7600 State Ave. at Wyandotte Plaza.

Window on the West
by Mary Rupert
There’s a new “best” among the grocery stores in Kansas City, Kan. A new Price Chopper that opened at 7600 State Ave. at Wyandotte Plaza on Wednesday, July 16, is clearly the best.

With its greater space, new building, and new features such as a pharmacy, Starbucks and deli, the Wyandotte Plaza grocery store tops the competition, at least for now. It has dine-in space for the deli and coffee shop. It continues to have a bakery, a floral area, a butcher shop and a savings and loan office. There is a larger section for health and beauty products, a larger produce section, and some specialty areas such as ethnic foods aisles, an everything for $1 aisle, and a gluten-free aisle.

The store has a high open ceiling giving the feeling of even more space than the 68,000 square feet it has. The building on the east side of Wyandotte Plaza replaces the Price Chopper formerly on the west side of the shopping center, which is undergoing a complete renovation.

I might have earlier said Hen House at 82nd and Parallel Parkway was the best grocery in Kansas City, Kan., but now the prize goes to the Price Chopper that opened Wednesday.

Like almost all other big grocery stores constructed in the past several years in Kansas City, Kan., the store had help from a mix of economic development programs at the local government level.

The grocery store business has been highly competitive in Wyandotte County, especially in the past several years. Just recently, the Lipari Thriftway at 800 Kansas Ave., in the Armourdale area of Kansas City, Kan., for more than 50 years, closed. And not too long ago, a grocery near 46th and Parallel Parkway closed. The downtown Kansas City, Kan., area has been termed a “food desert,” without a full-service grocery, and there have been plans under discussion for some time to bring a grocery store there. Another former “food desert,” the Argentine area, constructed a grocery store last year and soon will have another one.

Not only are grocery stores competing against each other here, they’re also competing against large discount stores selling groceries, convenience stores and gas stations that have groceries. Besides high-quality food, selection and excellent customer service, location has been very important for grocery stores in recent years, especially with higher gasoline costs. At the same time, some stores that were close together did not survive. The location of a former grocery store at 46th and Parallel, for example, was only about 1.5 miles from another grocery and 2.2 miles from a third grocery store.

A former Armourdale resident who liked to shop at the Lipari Thriftway, Patty Dysart, said recently that she thought the competition was too much from the Sunfresh store at Prescott Plaza near 18th and I-70. She also noted that the Thriftway had tried to expand the size of its store some years ago, but that it was not approved. The location of the Armourdale store was around 2.5 miles from the Sunfresh store, and around 2.5 miles from the new Argentine groceries.

Dysart kept coming back to the Armourdale store for years because she liked the people who owned the store and worked there. Customer service will continue to be the key to retaining customers long after the newness of grocery stores wears off.

To reach Mary Rupert, editor, email maryr@wyandottepublishing.com.