By Jaylen Cavil
Lawrence, KS - Jack Griswold won the Free State primary election on May 2 after receiving 61.5 percent of the votes. He will now face Isabella Southwick in the general election next week. Mrs. Southwick won the Sunflower primary with 73.7 percent of the votes. Although Mrs. Southwick had a large victory over her primary opponent, she will now face a much tougher opponent in Mayor Griswold. Kansas voters are going to choose Mayor Griswold because he is serious about strengthening public schools and ending corruption.
Mayor Griswold has effectively positioned himself as the anti-corruption candidate. In both debates, Mayor Griswold has not held back when speaking about the immense influence that corporations have over policy decisions. He was the first candidate to swear off corporate PAC money and has openly questioned other candidate’s motivations.
“I think they chose me because anti-corruption resonates, no matter ideology,” Griswold said. “I’m someone they can trust.”
The other three campaigns spent their time back-peddling on their positions in an attempt to keep up with Mayor Griswold’s rhetoric. This was apparent at the debate on Tuesday, when Mrs. Southwick announced that her campaign decided not to accept PAC money. Why did her campaign just now come to this decision? Probably because it knew she would be facing the anti-corruption candidate in the general election.
Voters will also choose Mayor Griswold over Mrs. Southwick because he is actually serious about improving Kansas’ education system. Mayor Griswold has repeatedly said that his focus will be on public schools, unlike Mrs. Southwick, whose only interest is in private education. Mrs. Southwick’s signature policy proposal is a “choice education” plan that would financially benefit private and charter schools, while hurting our public schools.
“Our public-school system is being destroyed,” Griswold said. “Anyone promoting choice education is being paid to lie to you.”
Mayor Griswold said that he will not allow any tax money to go towards private education once he is elected. This is the complete opposite position of Mrs. Southwick, whose husband is currently working at a charter school in Topeka. A politician pushing for policies that would financially benefit her family is the exact corruption that Mayor Griswold has been trying to expose.
Public opinion on education policy heavily favors Mayor Griswold. When asked for their views on public vs. private education, over 73 percent of voters agreed that “ensuring every Kansas resident has equal access to quality public education is a fundamental part of the American Dream, and any threats to the institution of public education are wrong and un-American.” I cannot imagine the majority of voters supporting a candidate whose signature policy is viewed as un-American.
The future of Kansas education hangs in the balance. Voters are tired of corrupt politicians and empty promises. That is why Mrs. Southwick will stand no chance when she is forced to go head-to-head with Mayor Griswold.
By Jaylen Cavil
Lawrence, KS - With the gubernatorial primaries quickly approaching, a new opinion poll shows that Jack Griswold has a comfortable lead over his opponent Brandon Boyce. About 71 percent of the Free State voters polled said that if the election were held today, they would vote for Mayor Griswold.
The wide margin in the polls may explain why the Free State primary has become more contentious. State Senator Boyce’s campaign has been increasingly open to attacking Mayor Griswold. I think this new strategy may be necessary for the Boyce campaign if it wants to have any chance at winning.
At the press conference on April 23, both Free State candidates spent a lot of time talking about criminal justice reform and the scandals of their opponents. State Senator Boyce used his opening statement to speak about police brutality and lay out specific reforms that he would enact. One of these ideas was to require mandatory body cameras for all police officers in Kansas.
“There is no overnight fix to this issue,” Boyce said. “But, implementing mandatory body cams for police forces in Kansas seems like a good stepping off point”
Mayor Griswold seemed to downplay the effectiveness of this policy during his press conference.
“That would be a great idea in like 2012,” Griswold said. “Anyone with a Twitter account can tell you that if an officer today decided to abuse their authority, putting it on camera doesn’t do much to change the situation.”
When asked to respond to Mayor Griswold’s criticism, State Senator Boyce said, “Jack didn’t do his research on the issue.”
On this situation, I have to say that I find Mayor Griswold’s cynicism worrying. State Senator Boyce was not suggesting that body cameras would be a magic fix. He said that this would be a starting point on a long road to improving our criminal justice system. State Senator Boyce cited multiple studies proving the correlation between body cameras and a reduction in use of force. Free State voters should be open to any and all ideas that can help fix our broken system.
When it came to speaking about their opponents shortcomings, neither candidate held back. Mayor Griswold questioned State Senator Boyce’s motives for running in light of the recent news that Boyce was previously a member of the Sunflower Party.
“When you’re willing to switch your party membership based on whichever one looks easiest to win an election, it’s because you’re in it to further your own career,” Griswold said.
State Senator Boyce attempted to downplay the scandal.
“People switch parties all of the time," Boyce said. "I vote on behalf of my constituents”
Based on the recent opinion poll of voters, it is likely that Boyce’s scandal will not significantly hurt his campaign. According to the poll, about 71 percent of Free State voters believe that it is very important for a candidate to reach across the aisle and find bipartisan solutions.
The Boyce campaign went further than offering disapproving statements in regard to the revelations that Mayor Griswold had been previously arrested for driving under the influence. In a press release they wrote that State Senator Boyce is filing a Kansas Open Records Act for documents related to Mayor Griswold’s arrest.
“Brandon is also calling on the Kansas Attorney General to allow the Kansas Bureau of Investigation to investigate the Griswold case,” Garrett Miller said.
The major differences between these two candidates is becoming more obvious as the Boyce campaign is increasingly being more aggressive. This is a good thing for the Boyce campaign, which has struggled with voter support and awareness. The Boyce campaign should be careful, however, because too much negativity could end up turning voters off.
By Edward Rosson
I will be the first to admit that I never thought I would be writing this article. I have been a loyal Sunflower voter for 25 years. Every election, I voted Sunflower up and down the ticket. That may change in 2019. The Sunflower candidates for Governor fail to live up to the values and ideals of the Sunflower party I used to know. Don’t get me wrong, they say all the right things on policy. I still believe that the Sunflower platform is the best in politics. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough to quell my fears on their leadership qualities. Both candidates in the primary have shown a distain for self-sacrifice in the interests of Kansas. Isabella Southwick is content to double dip. She wants to run the Kansas Department of Education while also making money from her husband’s charter school. She explicitly refused to donate the money to remove any conflict of interest. This comes on the heel of her flip flopping stance on Corporate PAC money. Senator Uriarte meanwhile has never wavered in his willingness to put his D.C special interests ahead of the Kansas voter. He failed to tell us that he moved his family from Kansas and has shown a continued eagerness to take their dirty money. We recently conducted a public poll on the Kansas electorate, the results of which are overwhelming. 89% of voters said that it was important for their candidate to reject corporate PAC money. The only way I can explain their behavior is that they simply have higher priorities than the people of Kansas.
That is not to say that any other candidate will do. Senator Boyce takes the same special interest money. Even worse in my eyes, he has changed his political stances like a chameleon changes color. If he wins the Free State nomination, I will probably return to the fold. There is only one candidate in this race who has shown any willingness to confront the corporate corruption at every level in our political system. Mayor Jack Griswold has pledged to take on the broken machine style politics in Topeka. He has never accepted Corporate PAC or lobbyist donations. He has called out the greedy practices of the Healthcare industry and pledged to enact policies to end their rampage. We don’t see eye to eye on many policy questions (he is a Free State guy after all) but he does have my vision of what needs to be done to break the gridlock in Topeka. If he wins the Free State nomination, I will probably vote for him in the general.
By Jaylen Cavil
A Kansas Debates investigation has discovered that one of the candidates running for the Free State Party nomination is not even a member of the party. We have learned that State Senator Brandon Boyce is currently registered as an Independent, and before that was a registered Sunflower Party member. Why is Boyce pretending to represent the values of the Free State Party when he has been dedicated to the Sunflower Party for most of his life?
Boyce’s attachments to the Sunflower Party run deep. In fact, Boyce was a member of the Sunflower Party until his first run for state senate. When he was in college, Boyce was the president of the KU Young Sunflowers and attended the state Sunflower Party convention. Boyce went as far to actively campaign for current Sunflower Party Governor Bradley Smith when Smith ran for state senate.
Boyce’s support of Governor Smith is especially surprising because his campaign has previously tried to position themselves in opposition of the governor. During their first press conference, Garrett Miller, Boyce’s communications director, took the time to directly call out Governor Smith. In light of this recent discovery, Boyce’s opposition to Governor Smith feels like he is just saying what he thinks Free State voters want to hear.
After analyzing Boyce’s voting record, it is clear that he is not loyal to the Free State Party. As a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, Boyce voted with the Sunflower Party 72 percent of the time. When he was in the Kansas Senate, Boyce voted with the Sunflower Party 57 percent of the time. If Boyce continues this pattern as governor, Free State voters can expect about a 50/50 chance of him siding with their values.
Boyce’s political track record suggests that he is the definition of a political flip-flop. It is common for politicians to change or slightly modify their positions on some issues. But, for Boyce to be so committed to one party, and then suddenly switch parties when he wants to run for a higher office shows that he has no real convictions. Boyce’s campaign now seems like nothing more than pandering. Luckily, I know that Free State voters are smart enough to not fall for political pandering and posturing.
Did Boyce really go through a dramatic change in his policy positions, or did he just decide that it was more advantageous for him to run as a Free State candidate? Either way, Free State voters cannot trust that Boyce will stick to any of the positions that he is currently running on.
Senator Uriarte says he wants to be Governor of Kansas. Is he willing to give up his D.C lifestyle? - Sunflower Spotlight Exclusive
By Edward Rosson
After a thorough investigation, Sunflower Spotlight uncovered that Senator Sebastian Uriarte and his family no longer live in Kansas. Documents show that Senator Uriarte purchased a 675 thousand 3 bedroom 2 bath home in DC 3 years ago. We also discovered that Senator Uriarte's kids have been enrolled in a prestigious private school in Maryland. This was not previously disclosed to voters and reeks of career politics. The Senator claims to understand the urgent issues of Kansans but seems to have spent as little time as possible in the state he represents. This legitimizes the rumors that I've heard in Sunflower circles that Senator Uriarte has alienated some party activists by neglecting local party functions.
Plenty of U.S Senators make the commute between DC and their home states. While the Senate is time demanding and most have residences in the DC area, Sunflower Spotlight could only find a handful of examples where it became their primary residence. There appeared to be even fewer examples where their families moved full time to DC. On top of this, he is a proud recipient of dirty money from the special interests he schmoozes with in DC. Voters will need to weigh this considerations when deciding who should lead Kansas in the crucial times ahead. It is the view of Sunflower Spotlight that the voters should choose a candidate with as little baggage. Given the scandals reported elsewhere on Isabella Southwick's campaign, this may be a difficult decision.
This is a very interesting campaign ad featured on Isabella Southwick's website. Maybe the "choice education" that she is promoting doesn't include spelling classes.
By Jaylen Cavil
Sunflower Party gubernatorial candidates, Sebastian Uriarte and Isabella Southwick, participated in their first debate on April 9 in Wescoe Hall. The debate was moderated by the Kansas Debates team and only lasted about 30 minutes. The conversation covered a wide range of issues and included plenty of questionable statements from the candidates. Of these statements, Senator Uriarte's statements about education surprised me the most. I have chosen to fact check three questionable claims made by Senator Uriarte in the debate.
“When it comes to schools, competition drives excellence” - Senator Uriarte
This claim was made by Senator Uriarte when he was discussing his support of private education tax credits. It is true that competition might result in some schools benefiting, however public schools in Kansas are already severely under-funded. Kansas public schools may need between $1.7 to $2 million in new funding, according to a 2018 study commissioned by Kansas legislators. Adding financial pressure to these already under-funded schools will only make it more difficult for the schools to improve the quality of education. Competition in education may lead to excellence for some, but it will not be for the majority of Kansas children who attend public schools.
“As they say, if you want a private education, at least a Catholic private education, they can’t say you can’t have an education” - Senator Uriarte
This claim was made by Senator Uriarte when he was speaking about private school accessibility in regard to his education tax credit plan. Here, the Senator is incorrectly claiming that private Catholic schools do not turn away students who wish to attend. Some Catholic schools may offer a lot of financial assistance. But, religious private schools in the U.S. are free to discriminate against LGBTQ students because they are exempt from the gender and sexuality rules of Title IX. This exact kind of discrimination occurred in Kansas just last month when a Prairie Village Catholic school chose to deny enrollment to the child of a gay couple. Senator Uriarte would like voters to believe that Kansas Catholic school are accessible to all students, but that is absolutely untrue.
“At the end of the day, evolution and all that stuff is based on personal opinion… If they don’t believe in evolution and they want to send their kid to a private school, that’s their right” - Senator Uriarte
This claim was made by Senator Uriarte after he was asked if his education plan would include tax credits for private schools that do not teach evolution. It is true that there is not a complete consensus on the topic of evolution. But, this statement from Senator Uriarte is misleading because he is making evolution seem more controversial than it actually is. Almost all (98 percent) of the scientific community believe that humans evolved over time, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. When it comes to public opinion, 81 percent of U.S. adults believe that humans evolved over time, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center study. This statement shows that Senator Uriarte does not care if private schools included in his tax credit plan are even meeting basic educational standards in their curriculum. Sunflower candidates should find some relief in the fact that one of their candidates was able to give a good answer to this question. “I believe in evolution,” Southwick said. “This is something important that we must teach our children about.”
By Edward Rosson
On Tuesday, Kansas Debates hosted the first primary debate of the Kansas gubernatorial election. Jaylen Cavil and I thoroughly grilled the candidates and sought to expose the underlying motivations behind the candidate’s political philosophy. On this end, we feel that the debate stripped away much of the posturing and allowed for an honest discourse. I decided that for the purposes of this week’s article, the debate can largely speak for itself. Instead, I wanted to take an opportunity to delve deeper into the political and moral quandaries present in the platform of both candidates running for the Free State nomination. The subject that struck me was the Free State party’s stance on healthcare.
In the debate, Mayor Griswold and Senator Boyce gave a strong defense of the free market’s abilities to provide good healthcare outcomes to Kansans. Both candidates opposed an expansion of Medicaid for people near the poverty line. More broadly, both candidates expressed dissatisfaction with the Affordable Care Act and the policies it implemented. These factors led me to wonder: What exactly would the healthcare policy of the Free State party look like if it was implemented? The reason I pose this question is that the ACA is largely a manifestation of their ideals. The Affordable Care Act is a market based solution that seeks to use competition to provide good healthcare. It provides baseline regulations to protect preexisting conditions, which both candidates have endorsed. Both campaigns failed to present an alternative that would manifest itself differently in a substantive way. At the same time, Free State candidates recognized (correctly) that the status quo just isn’t cutting it for the state of Kansas. Of the two candidates, only Mayor Griswold seemed to hint that the healthcare industry could be operating in bad faith.
I believe that it is abundantly clear that the marketplace is failing to serve the people of Kansas and this country. The solution isn’t to embrace the market, it is to embrace the marketplace of ideas. The candidates of the Sunflower party are leading the way on this. They support Medicaid expansion, which would give 150,000 Kansans healthcare and much needed revenues to our rural hospitals. They are open to exploring a statewide healthcare program. This is the future of healthcare and we need to embrace bold policies to combat big problems. The heartbreaking thing is that the Free State Party seems willing to take on bold ideas. Both Free State candidates endorsed reparations for those affected by the drug war and increased subsidies for small farmers. Why is it such a difficult leap to have the government play a larger role in healthcare? In poll after poll, Medicare and Medicaid has been found to be extremely popular by large majorities of Kansans. Voters must support a candidate who fights for the actions needed to solve the issue. The free market is what brought us to this point. The idea that it can fix this mess simply isn't true.