Okay so you’re excited about voting for the president but who are the rest of the people/positions on this ballot and why do they matter.
In case you missed it, we covered a lot of the offices, some that will be on your ballot, told you who currently holds the position, and what role the position plays in governing our state. Positions we discussed are: U.S. Senator, U.S. Congressman, Governor/Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer and Insurance Commission, Kansas Senator, Kansas Representative and Judges.
If you missed this section, and want to learn more about each office, ahead of the election, you can read this article online at www.communityvoiceks.com. Click on e-editions and read the Sept. 22 edition.
Well take on more race here, and any or all of these races might appear on your ballot this year.
Why do these races matter?
Your votes in the presidential race, and the federal congressional and senatorial races, are incredibly important. However, it is the state-level legislative races and local races that are most crucial when it comes to the issues facing our state. These include votes for offices like your District Attorney, County elected offices, School Board members, District Court and Magistrate judges, and your votes for judicial retention.
State Board of Education
The Kansas State Board of Education makes policy decisions that affect what children in Kansas learn from pre-school through high school. They set standards by grade for what students are expected to learn, set graduation requirements, and set rules for licensing teachers, school counselor and even school nurses. This may not seem controversial but it can be. In the past the State BOE has drawn national attention for a discussion on what Kansas students should be taught about evolution and the origin of life. A more recent decision of the board was approving some districts to hire unlicensed teachers. When your child sits down to take assessment tests, how often they’re tested and what they’re tested on is decided by the KSBOE.
There are 10 members of the board, each representing a different part of the state, and they serve four year terms. This year, half of the board seats are up for election.
A District Attorney
Oversees investigations, including search warrant preparation, inquisitions, and working alongside law enforcement. In the courtroom, the DA directs bond hearings, arraignments, habeas corpus petitions, probation, restitution hearings, bench and jury trials; in addition, provides law enforcement training, legal research, trial preparation and expungement and diversion decisions.
Other duties include working with the Kansas Court of Appeals and the Kansas Supreme Court, reviewing all police reports filed with the office, determining what charges will be filed, probable cause affidavits, communicating with victims, and aiding in internal policy and issue decisions.
Each county in the state has its own county commission and the sizes of the commissions vary, from as small as three members to as many as seven. The county is an agent of the state for traditional government functions, such as conducting elections, appraising and assessing property. The county commission is responsible for enacting policies generally in regards to public health, safety and welfare matters. In the part of the County that are not within cities, they are responsible for maintaining the community infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, parks, and utilities.
County Commissions may also provide services for economic development, comprehensive planning, zoning, environmental protection, mental health centers, senior citizens programs, health agencies and drug counseling. They have the ability to levy taxes to pay for these services and set the budget to operate these services.
A County Clerk oversees and facilitates many tasks, mostly regarding keeping the records of the county. The clerk maintains county contracts, keeps the county’s financial records, and manages valuations, taxes and the county’s tax rolls. Additionally, the Clerk administers payroll for all County employees, issues W-2s, and provides licenses for anything from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to firework permits.
The County Clerk is responsible for maintaining accurate voter registration records, collecting candidate filing fees, and administering all aspects of elections – ballots, polling locations, and the necessary equipment in accordance with federal, state, and local regulations.
The County Treasurer’s Office is responsible for collection of real estate, personal property and motor vehicle taxes, special assessments and other miscellaneous taxes for a county. The Treasurer apportions and distributes that revenue to local taxing units, such as school districts and municipalities.
In addition, the Treasurer is responsible for the title and registration application of motor vehicles, performs the function of a bank for all revenue-generating County departments and invests tax dollars.
A District Attorney oversees investigations, including search warrant preparation, inquisitions, and works alongside law enforcement. In the courtroom, the DA directs bond hearings, arraignments, makes recommendations for probation, restitution hearings, and serves as the prosecutor in bench and jury trials; the DA can also can setup and implement expungement and diversion programs on the county level.