Chamber sponsors forums for Congressional candidates

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-3rd Dist., left, faces a challenge from Amanda Adkins, right, Republican nominee. (Candidate photos)

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Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

The two candidates for U.S. Representative, Third District in Kansas, attended separate forums via Zoom sponsored by the Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce.

The challenger, Republican Amanda Adkins appeared Thursday, Oct. 15; the incumbent, Democrat Sharice Davids, appeared Friday, Oct. 16, the usual time for the monthly meeting of the Congressional Forum. The chamber sponsors the Congressional Forum. The chamber had hoped that the two could come together for a debate.

Stephen Duerst, a lobbyist for the chamber, asked questions of the candidates. It was obvious that the candidates have political differences based on the responses to Duerst’s questions and other recent interviews.

Adkins wants the Affordable Care Act repealed, but favors saving the provision that allows keeping the pre-existing condition coverage. Rep. Davids favors Medicaid expansion; she has introduced legislation that would help people avoid large out-of-network costs.

Adkins favors well-funded police departments; Rep. Davids favors a ban on no-knock warrants and choke-holds. Adkins favors making the 2017 tax cuts permanent; Rep. Davids said the tax cuts favored the wealthiest and special interests.

Political ads that support Adkins tie Rep. Davids to the very liberal wing of the Democratic party including U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, who is the speaker of the House. Political ads favoring Rep. Davids tie Adkins to the “failed administration” of former Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican.

Both candidates said they agree on one thing—they both favor the Kansas City Chiefs winning the 2021 Super Bowl.

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

Chamber Ambassador of the Year

Mike Stone, Spangler Graphics, center, was awarded the Ambassador of the Year at the Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber’s annual meeting on March 7. He is with Todd LaSala, right, Partner at Stinson Leonard Street and KCK Chamber Board chairman; and Pat Warren, left, president of Kansas Speedway and KCK Chamber Board Member. Kansas Speedway was the 2014 annual meeting presenting sponsor. (Photo from Kansas City, Kan., Area Chamber of Commerce)

Former governor played role in helping Wyandotte County

Column

by Murrel Bland

Bill Graves was pleased to have played a role in the significant transformation of Wyandotte County that started in the mid-1990s and continues today.

Former Gov. Bill Graves

That was the message he delivered to an audience of more than 600 persons at the annual meeting of the Kansas City, Kansas, Area Chamber of Commerce Friday, March 7, at the Reardon Convention Center.

Graves, who is now the president of the American Trucking Associations in Washington, D.C., and nearby Arlington, Va., cited three major accomplishments that needed state government approval—the change to a unified city and county government, the authority to issue sales tax bonds necessary to develop Village West and the creation of an independent KU Hospital Authority.

Graves gave much of the credit to other state leaders such as Gary Sherrer, his lieutenant governor and secretary of commerce, and then State Sen. Mark Parkinson.

“Once the election was over, we forgot about party labels,” Graves said. He said that he doubted that such accomplishments could occur today because of the partisan bickering in Topeka.

Graves, grew up in Salina, Kan.; his family owned Graves Truck Lines and had a terminal on Seventh Street here. His father was a good friend of Jay Dillingham who was president of the Kansas City Stockyards. He recalled another Salina native, coach Walt Shublom, who led Wyandotte High School to state championships.

Graves said he had met with Bill France and Lesa France Kennedy privately in Topeka a few years after he took office in 1995. France told him of plans to expand the International Speedway Corp.  to other areas including Kansas. That excited Graves, who said he has been a race fan since childhood. Today he serves on the board of directors of the ISC.

Graves said he worked with Mark Parkinson, a state senator from Olathe, who played a key role in assuring that legislation passed to allow consolidated government in Wyandotte County. Enabling state legislation and a positive vote of the people allowed the Unified Government to become a reality in 1997.

The problems at the KU Medical Center and its hospital needed attention, Graves said. Bob Hemenway, then the KU chancellor, came to Graves explaining that the KU Hospital was losing money and would be in a much better position to compete with area hospitals if it were governed by an independent authority. Graves helped that legislation pass.

Graves also told a humorous story about a meeting in Topeka with Richard Petty, a NASCAR driver with the nickname “The King.” Petty won seven national NASCAR championships and is famous for wearing his big cowboy hat and sunglasses.

Petty had learned that Graves was the only secretary of state in the country to later be elected governor. Graves said Petty was planning to do the same thing in North Carolina and wanted political advice.  Petty ran for secretary of state but lost.

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