Friday, April 28, 2006
3rd District Candidates on the Issues
About 60 people attended a 3rd District Candidate Forum at Shawnee Mission West High School in Johnson County last night to hear three challengers explain where they stand on the issues in the contentious school board election.
John Bacon, the incumbent Republican candidate who is part of the current board's right-wing majority, declined to participate.
Nick Haines, the host of KCPT's Week in Review acted as moderator.
Three candidates who are challenging Bacon, Harry McDonald, a moderate Republican and former president of Kansas Citizens for Science, Don Weiss, the Democratic candidate, and David Oliphant, a Republican, answered questions from Haines and the audience about the state board's science policy, sex education, the appointment of controversial Education Commissioner Bob Corkins, vouchers, and other issues.
All three candidates said they would not have voted to approve the new science standards which have opened the door to intelligent design and include criticisms of evolutionary theory.
A member of the audience asked if science is anti-God. Harry McDonald responded by saying people don't have to choose between God and science because faith lies outside the boundaries of science.
Don Weiss responded by saying that, in his opinion, the two are not in conflict because science is a way of discovering how God works.
David Oliphant answered the question by saying that as a cancer survivor, he has a strong faith. The science standards should be a matter of local control.
McDonald and Weiss seemed to agree on many of the issues. At one point Weiss urged those in the audience to vote for McDonald in the Aug. 1 primary and for him in the general election.
Oliphant said if he had his way, he'd do away with the Department of Education at the federal level. He said he is a strong proponent of limited government, local control, and parental involvement. He would have voted for the controversial opt-in sex education policy recently adopted by the right-wing majority of the state board.
On the hot-button issue of the Corkins appointment, both McDonald and Weiss suggested that if they were elected, Corkins would be looking for a new job. Oliphant said that while Corkins was unqualified to be a teacher in Kansas, he might be qualified to manage the Department of Education.
A group supporting the new science standards distributed literature at the event. Despite the claims of Bacon, Abrams, Morris, Martin, Willard and Van Meter that the new standards represent strong science, a flyer attacking people of faith who support evolution stated:
Another problem with the theistic-evolutionary view is the doubt it instills in the authority and authenticity of the Bible. Christians believe the Bible to be divinely inspired revelation from god to man, interpretational differences notwithstanding.
Asked about "pornographic books" used in the Blue Valley School District, Harry McDonald drew applause from the audience when he defended the district's policy.