Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
We are continuing our series of presenting profiles of the candidates in the GOP Primary for the 42nd House District and 3rd Senate District in the Kansas State House. Both of these districts encompass the city of Eudora. All the GOP candidates were sent the exact same questionnaire. Today, we are printing the responses from 3rd Senate District Candidate J.C. Tellefson.
Please tell about your background.
I am James C. “J.C.” Tellefson.
– A retired year Navy Commander and aviator with a proven track record as a battle-tested leader;
– Graduate of Kansas State University with a degree in Journalism and a licensed stockbroker;
– Active member of the Unity Center of Leavenworth;
– Married to another Kansas native for 22 years, two wonderful married children and three extraordinary grandchildren.
– I have been a compromise since my second day on this earth when my Mother who wanted another James, and my Father who wanted another Chester decided I was unique.
I am Kansas stock born and bred; I know that even though today is good, tomorrow will be better. I believe that hard work is its own reward, and that I have all that I need.
I was raised to know that my neighbors are my friends, and when they are in need, I am to be available.
I strive to make everyplace I visit better when I visit, and me better for having visited.
Please tell us about your political experience.
As a former Leavenworth County Commissioner, I cast the deciding vote on every occasion, to spend county funds on making our County Road ONE a safer road. That effort resulted in a Kansas Turnpike entrance for both southern Leavenworth and Eastern Douglas counties.
I consider myself a fiscal conservative who believes decisions made at the local level are better than edicts from Topeka or Washington, D.C. I know that I know better how to spend my money than does any legislator, or bureaucrat. As county commissioner, I helped reorganize the workforce resulting in significant tax dollar savings.
What do you think is the most important issue that will face the Kansas Senate in the next year?
The most important issue I see for the next legislative session will be budgeting and the revision of the recently passed income tax legislation. I am deeply concerned that the legislature will revert to past habits and simply resolve anticipated budget shortfalls by eliminating transfers to local government. Those actions would have a devastating effect on property owners. I would oppose such action with every effort. We must cut spending, not transfer the expenses.
The Kansas state budget has caused great debate in recent years. How do you plan on improving the state budget?
The Legislature’s responsibility is to allocate money through the budget. Spending must be cut, but that is the responsibility of the Governor’s administration. For too many years, the legislators have spent too much energy dictating to the administration. When budgets are all allocated out of a few general revenue funds, the administration is free to re-allocate as they see fit.
I intend to listen. Listen to the experts—my constituents. I don’t believe constituents have been given enough opportunity to inform our representatives. I know local elected officials have not been consulted in past years. I intend to ask and then listen to the local representative, the judges, the teachers, the school administrators, the farmers, the business people and the employees.
I want to work with every other legislator and with the administration to meet Kansas’ needs. I want to avoid across-the-board reductions, because even though we need to cut spending, there are programs that are critical to our future and may need additional funding, or at least program reviews that would allow the in-field experts to best utilize their funding.
I view our economic challenges as opportunities to renovate, innovate and rejuvenate critical programs, and eliminate programs that are no longer needed.
Education Funding makes up a large portion of the state budget. Many districts have stated that state funding for education has been inadequate. What are your thoughts on education funding?
We must prepare our children for the future, and money does not solve our educational problems. I believe that teachers are tireless experts and if we empower them and work to eliminate burdensome bureaucratic testing and reporting in favor of teaching, we can become much more efficient and happy. I hear no one clamoring for “no child left behind.” It was an idea. We tried it. We need to move on.
Technology and innovation save tax dollars and produce the results we all desire.
Education Funding and redistricting of seats have been settled in the court system as opposed to the State House. What are your thoughts on the court system determining policies that should be settled by the Legislature?
Kansas deserves better legislators than we have had for too many years. Childish partisan politics came to a head this past session, and I was embarrassed for all of them. The Judiciary did perform its constitutional duty—something the Legislature did not do.
As to the Supreme Court review of school funding, I do not believe that is their job to direct the appropriation of funds. It is, however, their job to hear lawsuits brought by people who feel funding was unconstitutional. I believe the Court should be able to “find” whether funding is appropriate, and then take action to correct improper appropriations. However, I do not believe that includes determining what the appropriate funding level is.
Health care has seen many changes from the federal government in the last few years. The changes will affect all citizens. What are your thoughts on these changes and what will you do as a Senator for the citizens of Kansas when it comes to healthcare?
I refuse to get angry about healthcare. It is the law of the land, and as I have read the judicial findings, the U.S. Congress has been given a remedy if the public does not want affordable healthcare—repeal it. As a state legislator unable to vote on its dismantlement, I will be responsible to implement those tasks assigned. I will not defiantly and indifferently ignore my responsibilities, and then wait once again for the courts to command my actions. As a military officer there were occasions when I did not agree with my seniors, but that did not remove me from the constitutional responsibility to follow the lawful orders issued by those with which I disagreed.
An issue that is important to many people is abortion. What is your stance on abortion and what will you do to support your position in the State House?
I believe that all life is precious. I want to see a day that abortion has become obsolete and irrelevant, and I will work hard to get to that day. I support making abortion strongly regulated and significantly restricted but until we get to that day, I do not support making abortion illegal.
Legislating social issues does not work. We did not eliminate alcohol abuse with prohibition and after a 30-year “war on drugs”; cocaine is 25% of its 1984 street cost. Making abortion illegal will not make it go away. We will revert back to an earlier time when unlicensed people conducted abortions without any government oversight, in unsanitary conditions.
Same sex marriage is also a popular topic in the United States. What is your position on marriage?
Marriage is an issue for the church. For my entire life I have worked to treat every person as equal, with no special privileges and with no oppressive limitations. Each of us deserves the same opportunity for happiness.
Citizens in the state hold the belief that their taxes are high. With that said, what is your opinion on taxes in the State and what are your plans, if any, to change taxes, either up or down?
What other issues are important to you that you plan on fighting for or against as a member of the Legislature?
Why should voters vote for you in the election?
The last three questions really drive down to why I am a candidate. I believe we deserve better government than we have gotten for too many years. Some of our incumbent legislators proudly boast about a tax bill that eliminates income tax liabilities for every Kansan except the middle-class wage earner. That legislation by every account will require unprecedented economic growth to balance, and substantial cuts in spending.
That tax bill might have been a start, but if the errors of the legislation are not corrected, property tax payers in school districts, cities and counties will become even further burdened. Kansas must look at all taxes, not just focus on the income tax.
The petty partisan politics should stop, and I want to be part of a body that gets results that the public and the legislature can be proud of. I want to help restore civility and respect. I plan on doing that by lunching with all political persuasions. I hope that my views are challenged, and that I am able to challenge others, but that in the end, we can create and pass legislation that gets 80-90 percent support, laudatory comments from the Governor at signings, and praise from both traditional and blogosphere media.
Finally, I do have specific issues. My preeminent issue will be to create legislation that will provide Permanent Property Tax Protection for Homeowners on Fixed Incomes. My plan would allow counties to give homeowners an ability to “freeze” their annual homestead property tax liability when the homeowner reaches a specific stage in life.
I would like to create legislation that will give property owners a representative voice in unilateral city annexation proceedings.
I am an unabashed optimist. We are Kansans, we deserve it all, and we can have it all! I would like to lower the volume of discord, help make the place more collegial, reduce our tax burden—not just slow the inevitable governmental growth—and ensure our public schools are properly funded and that our children are best prepared for the future that we leave to them.
Tomorrow we wrap up our series of candidate profiles with Representative Anthony Brown.
The Eudora Chamber of Commerce and Eudorareporter.com are proud to bring you the opportunity to learn more about candidates in person at a town hall forum on Tuesday, July 17th at 7:00 PM. Meet the Candidates – 2012 – The GOP Primary will take place at Eudora City Hall 4 E. 7th Street in Downtown Eudora. Past president of the Chamber of Commerce Amy Durkin and Eudorareporter.com Managing Editor John Schulz will host the event. The candidates will be asked a series of questions determined by a panel from both Eudorareporter.com and the Chamber of Commerce. Citizens will also have the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates.
The Chamber of Commerce and Eudorareporter.com hope that you can attend the event which is open to the public and free of charge.