Election 2012
6:47 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Candidates Speak Out At Voter Empowerment Forum

(L-R) Rodrick Houston, Kenya Cox, Barry Stanley, Gail Finney, Patrick Cantwell, Oletha Faust-Goudeau
(L-R) Rodrick Houston, Kenya Cox, Barry Stanley, Gail Finney, Patrick Cantwell, Oletha Faust-Goudeau
Credit Carla Eckels

A political forum was held at Wichita's Tabernacle Bible Church Sunday giving voters a chance to learn more about candidates before going to the polls.

Several candidates took part in a forum sponsored by 19 churches and organizations called The Voter Empowerment Committee. Democrat Gail Finney, an incumbent running for the 84th district responded to a question about corporate personhood, affordable health care, and student debt.

Finney says its, what she calls, "the 1 percenters" who benefit the most.

"When you look at corporations, they're the ones that's getting the biggest tax breaks," she says.

"When you're talking about welfare, it's corporate welfare, you know your talking about debt for our students, I don't want to see my child with debt the rest of his life, you're talking about affordable healthcare, when you look at Kansas, Kansas with our governor Sam Brownback is denying expansion of Medicaid that's going to help out over 350,000 people in Kansas and so when you are talking about those issues, to me you are speaking to the choir."

Patrick Cantwell is a Democrat running for the Kansas Senate's 30th District says he's also concerned about national issues such as the Affordable Care Act and he says, he doesn't understand people in Kansas who fight against it.

"I think that this is a wonderful opportunity for parents to insure their children until they're 26. I read a study recently that more than 40 million new people or 40 million additional people will receive health insurance," says Cantwell.

"The cost is largely irrelevant to me if we think of it this way, if you go to the emergency room and you don't have any money and you don't have insurance, I'm paying for it anyway."

Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo who's running for re-election in the 4th District told the audience the Affordable Care Act did nothing to control the primary issue with American health care- access and cost.

"I've voted multiple times to repeal in its entirety the Affordable Care Act. I think it's been devastating for jobs all across America and I think it will be absolutely devastating for access to health care in the United States as well, especially in Kansas," says Pompeo.

"I was just out in the most western part of the district in a town called Coldwater, Kansas. I talked to a number of physicians with Medicare reimbursement rates under the affordable care act they are desperately afraid that the rural hospitals will not be able to continue to operate. We see this in our critical access care hospitals all across the state of Kansas."

Democrat Robert Tillman who is running against Pompeo for in the 4th district told the audience there are people in the US who only have financial goals.

"So when we have people who only think about money and only think about ways of making money and don't care about the people at the bottom, they're going to outsource their jobs and that's called capitalism and it's very little you can do about capitalism because it's what runs this country," he says.

"You have to get in there and change the hearts and minds of the people at the top and then you do that through regulation. Now my opponent Mike Pompeo is against government regulations he says government should get out of the way. Pompeo says it's silly to say he doesn't believe in any regulations, which he says are needed to govern. He says he does believe that taxes should not increase on anyone.

"Indeed, President Obama said himself, he said when the economy is weak, you don't want to increase taxes on anyone and I continue to believe that's the right thing. On January 1st if we don't act, everybody in this room will have their taxes go up. Everyone in this room, payroll taxes will go up, ordinary income tax rates will go up on everyone, a series of deductions that especially hit low income people will go up we got to fix it and I hope when I go back after the election we will be serious Democrats and Republicans alike and do just that."

Libertarian Thomas Jefferson who's also running in the 4th Congressional District says he's interested in supporting a balanced budget proposed by his party, setting term limits on congressmen, and bringing a 3rd party sensibility to congress.

"As the third party I can bring something that neither of them can't bring and that is I don't have to answer to the upper echelon in my party because we don't have any," says Jefferson.

Tabernacle's Rev. Lincoln Montgomery says events like this are important to help voters make informed decisions at the polls.

"We are $16 trillion in debt," he says. "That debt is not going to evaporate with somebody's magic wand. We can make promises but most importantly somebody's going to have to tell us what we plan to do to to pull ourselves up out of that whole, I think, and if somebody would talk about mutual and shared sacrifice at a proportionate level, which means that those of us who have a little bit more can give a bit more and everybody can contribute something but if we come into it with the attitude it's not them against us but rather we're all in this together, I'd like to see that sort of consolatory approach tried and we'll see what happens."

See what happens, with less than a week to vote.

The Greater Wichita Ministerial League in association with the Voter Empowerment Committee is offering free transportation to get voters to the polls now through Election Day, November 6.

To book a free ride to your polling place call (316) 683-6900.