By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
“I am the best man for the job,” the only woman in the race, Sue Boldra, told a crowd that gathered in the Seward County Community College/Area Technical School’s Showcase Theater Tuesday evening to listen to seven candidates vying for the Big First District’s Congressional seat.
Boldra’s quip got a chuckle from the crowd and was perhaps the most memorable line from the forum that saw mostly agreement between the candidates.
Still, there were moments of disagreement, one of which included the views on Obamacare.
Alan Jilka, the only Democrat in the forum, said the best approach was to give the new legislation a chance.
“I strongly disagree,” Tracey Mann, a Republican from Salina, said. “Time will allow this bill to destroy health care. We need to repeal this bad bill.”
Marck Cobb, a Republican from Galva, also pointed out that 16,000 more IRS employees and more than 100 more federal agencies to administer the health care bill would not be helpful.
“We can’t force people to buy something,” Cobb said. “Healthcare is important. We just need to look at who we get there.”
Tim Huelskamp, a Republican from Fowler said the issue was simple, the bill was unconstitutional.
“The president is trying to dictate what we would buy,” Huelskamp said. “I want to get Kansas to join the 20 other states opposing this bill that was written behind closed doors.”
Immigration concerns also showed some difference between the candidates.
Rob Wasinger, a Republican from Cottonwood Falls, wanted troops on the border. “We have to get serious about the border and national security,” he said.
Susan Boldra, a Republican from Hays, was a proponent of a wall.
“The human trafficking has to stop,” she said. “We need to build the wall.”
Jilka wanted to see more border patrol and encouragement for Mexico to solve its own issues.
“We can’t deport our way out of this problem,” Jilka said.
Jim Barnett, a Republican from Emporia, said he was a proponent of the Arizona law/ “The federal government needs to live up to its responsibility,” Barnett said.
Huelskamp said the solution was only four words.
“Secure the border now,” he said. “Washington won’t do anything until they can get comprehensive reform including amnesty. I am against amnesty.”
Cobb said that technology could be used, including infrared and surveillance balloons.
When asked about the importance of getting Highway 54 to four-lane status, the candidates had a variety of views.
Barnett believed Highway 54 should be a high priority, and that the federal trust fund should be replenished to provide the funds.
Boldra said that Highway 54 was the conduit in southwest Kansas. “Let’s get the road built,” she said.
Jilka said the road was dangerous and that four lanes needed to happen by renewing the Service Transportation Act.
Mann said Highway 54 was an “extremely high priority” for him.
“This is the only quadrant of the state without interstate access,” he said. “As we see ag changing, getting our products to market will require better roads and rail service.”
Huelskamp pointed out that the money sent to Washington did not return in kind to the Big First District.
“When the governor received stimulus package money, he spent it in eastern Kansas.,” Huelskamp said. “I will be an advocate for Highway 54 in Washington.”
Many of the candidates were in agreement on opposing the cap and tax proposal and protecting energy production in Kansas. According to Wasinger, Kansas is the ninth largest energy provider in the nation.
Boldra pointed out that western Kansas pays more for electricity because it has too few coal plants where the eastern side of the state has lower electrical costs because it has more coal plants.
The Republican primary will take place Aug. 3.
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