OPINION/EDITORIAL Barring a major catastrophe that keeps most of rural Kansas from making it to the polls on Nov. 8, Kansas’ electoral vote for the President will go to Donald Trump. While, your vote may not make a big difference in that race, where it will go a long way will be on votes for members of the Kansas House and Senate, on a handful of local races, and on the retention vote for Kansas Supreme Court Judges.
In most of the state house and senate races featuring African-American candidates, these candidates don’t face any opposition. KS Rep Gail Finney, says that isn’t by chance, but by plan.
“They don’t run anyone against us as a strategy to keep people of color from showing up at the poll,” says Finney. “They figure our constituents will think, ‘Gail and Oletha don’t have any opposition, I don’t have to bother to come out and vote.’”
Not showing up is exactly what they want. Not for Gail and Oletha’s races, but for other races that if you show up for, you might influence the outcome. If our community stays at home, they can easily win in other more important races, like the Kansas Supreme Court retention races.
In case you missed it, our cover story in the Oct. 20, 2016 Community Voice, took on the issue of the judicial elections. Mostly ignored in the past, this year big money is being put behind these elections with two sides painting conflicting views about the quality and motives of four members of the Kansas Supreme Court who are up for a retention vote.
These are non-partisan races which makes it particularly difficult for people to make a quick analysis of the justices based on “D” for Democrat or “R” for Republican. To make an informed decision, you need to understand what’s behind the push, and you need to follow the money.
Well following the money isn’t necessarily easy in this case, because of a loop hole in Kansas’ law that doesn’t require the source of spending in these races to be clearly identified. However you can clearly discern the issue based on a conservative versus and more moderate agenda.
Kansas conservatives are displeased with the judges because they’ve ruled in ways they don’t agree with, i.e. requiring the State legislature to adequately fund Kansas schools. In addition, based on technicalities, the judges overturned the life sentence ruling in a couple of cases, including the case of Wichita’s notorious murderers, the Carr brothers.
This ruling doesn’t mean the Carr brothers will ever get out of jail. They will spend the rest of their life in jail, they just won’t be executed. But does that really matter in a state that hasn’t killed anyone on death row since 1965.
Poll after poll has shown how dissatisfied Kansans are with Gov. Brownback and the existing Kansas Legislature. While a recent poll shows only 19% approval ratings for Gov. Brownback, that same poll shows nearly 53% of Kansans are satisfied with the performance of the Kansas Supreme Court.
While that 53% number may mean the justices may skirt through with a positive retention vote, those are the kind of numbers where a few votes can make the difference. This year where the numbers are expected to be close, not voting to retain the judges is the same as a vote against them.
That’s why we urge our readers to “Finish the Ballot.” Make it to the last few pages, past the District Judge races, most of whom are running unopposed for reelection, and back to the Supreme Court Judges, who aren’t running against another candidate. What they need is your yes vote to retain them.
Don’t give Gov. Sam Brownback the opportunity to stack the court with four members who support his conservative agenda. Vote to retain members of the Kansas Supreme Court.