Ten candidates took the stage at the DC3 Little Theater Thursday afternoon to help voters make their decisions ahead of upcoming elections.
Chris Boys and Rebecca Escalante are candidates for Ford County Commission, 11th District.
Sen. Garrett Love and Johnny Dunlap II are candidates for the 38th District Senate seat.
Rep. Brian Weber and Larry Blake are candidates for the 119th District House seat.
Rep. Ron Ryckman, Majorie Gilbert, John Ewy and Dennis McKinney are all running for two seats representing the 115th District.
The forum was sponsored by the Ford County Democratic Party, the Ford County Republican Women, the Dodge City Area Young Professionals and VFW Post 1714.
Escalante and Boys began with opening statements. Escalante expressed concern about state budget cuts, especially in education, fearing that the cuts would lead to higher taxes at the county level.
She also raised concerns about service agencies not being funded.
"Having been a recipient of those services, I know that sometimes we need those agencies," she said.
Boys told voters he and his family had moved to Dodge City by choice when he left his job with a Fortune 500 company to work for himself.
"I've been a registered Republican in Ford County for seven years," he said. "My first public service was on the depot board."
Boys was chosen to fill the unexpired seat of former commissioner Kim Goodnight.
Responding to questions submitted by the audience, Boys suggested that new industry is the most important opportunity for growth in Ford County.
Escalante agreed but added that the county should also support current businesses and employees.
Other questions asked about Ford County's strategic focus, the county's funding of social service agencies, the advisability of increasing the number of county commissioners to five, how the new tax law will affect property taxes, and how the county will pay for the Expo Center.
Regarding the Expo Center, Boys said, "It's a great facility and it's what the people wanted. We just signed indoor soccer. It's a facility we share with the city and I believe it falls under Why Not Dodge? funding."
Escalante compared the Expo Center to All-4-Fun and suggested she would rather investigate how to make the facility profitable than use Why Not Dodge? funds to pay for it.
Boys said that the first event in the center after the 3I Show was a Hispanic band.
"They made $10,000 in beer sales in that one night — that building will pay for itself," he said.
Following the county commission candidate forum, the eight candidates for state office were introduced.
The first question posed to the state candidates was "If you are elected and have to choose, would you build a four-lane from Dodge to Garden or cut taxes?"
Page 2 of 2 - Other questions included "How do you think the new tax law will affect middle income voters, property taxes and school funding — and what do you think is a fair tax system?"
The far-ranging discussion touched on teacher evaluation, dynamic scoring as a budgeting tool, and removing the state's obligation to fund education from the Kansas constitution.