Candidate questionnaire: Charles Macheers, 39th District Kansas House of Representatives
The following are the responses to the Dispatch's candidate questionnaire from Republican Charles Macheers, who is running for re-election as the state representative for the 39th District, which covers western Shawnee. He will face Shelee Brim and Owen Donohoe in the Aug. 2 primary.
Name: Charles Macheers
Family: Wife, Diane; son, Jackson, 8
Years lived in district: 18
Previous political experience: State representative for the 39th district, 2013 to present; Macheers has also served on numerous committees
What made you decide to run for office?
As I’ve knocked on thousands of doors this summer to hear from my constituents, I’ve found that many voters think state government should focus on a few key priorities such as outstanding schools, job creation, a strong economy and limiting federal overreach into our community. Voters at the doors are demanding that we reign in the constant property taxes increases and profligate spending on the county level.
As a Reagan Republican, I share the voters’ common-sense perspective. We need to let families and small businesses keep as much of their hard-earned money as possible so more jobs can be created in the private sector, and we need to keep government focused and limited.
I also am a strong supporter of local control, particularly when it comes to education. We know better than Washington or Topeka what is best for our kids in Shawnee.
What special qualifications would you bring to this office?
My record in the legislature demonstrates my ability to work with others, providing leadership to get things done for our community. And in the last two years, the results have been very positive: unemployment dropping to under 4%--among the lowest in the nation, providing real tax relief for families in our community, and increases in K-12 funding for the DeSoto School district as a result of my work on the Special Committee on Judiciary and in the Special Session on the Gannon lawsuit—which brought an additional $262,000.00 to DeSoto schools. Kansas is #2 in the nation for the amount of the state general fund devoted to K-12. There are very few attorney Legislators in the House and Senate, and my legal training greatly enhances my abilities in understanding the workings of government and its interplay between the other branches. Further, my experience in negotiating and project managing multiple multi-million-dollar agreements gives me a leg-up when working through complicated issues in the Appropriations Committee. Making good policy for Kansas is the paramount goal.
How do you plan to stay in touch with constituents if you are elected?
During the legislative session I write a weekly newsletter that reviews all of the bills debated that week, a summary of what each bill does, and how I voted on it. This is the best way to stay informed on what is happening in Topeka. Subscribe to the newsletter at macheers.com. Current happenings are available on Facebook and Twitter. I respond to constituent letters, e-mails, and telephone calls. We also mail session wrap-up newsletters at the end of the session. Of course, constituents are welcome—and frequently come—to visit with me personally at my office in the Capitol, which I particularly enjoy.
As you have been campaigning, what issue have you found is most important for constituents in your district? How would you address this issue?
Johnson County has been hit with some of the most extreme cases of property tax increases statewide. Property appraisals have increased for several years far above the inflation rate, as much as 7% per year. I spoke to one homeowner who had his property tax raised twice in two years, and another senior citizen on a fixed income who almost had to get a loan because her property taxes were increased so much. We restored the property tax lid that was removed in 1999, and voted to move the effective date up to 2017. We have more reforms planned for the coming session.
In your own opinion, aside from or in addition to the above issue, what are the three most important issues facing the state and how would you address them?
We must always remember that every dollar spent in the public sector was a dollar taken out of the wallet of an individual Kansan. It is essential that as stewards of the dollars removed from individual families, we must make extraordinary efforts to be as efficient and effective with every dollar. While knocking on doors a teacher told me his classroom allowance was decreased. With K-12 spending at its highest in Kansas history, this should not be happening. Our inquiries have found it is the local school boards that are making students and teachers a low priority when it comes to funding decisions. There are ongoing efficiency studies by the K-12 Student Performance & Efficiency Commission that need to continue to ensure that school boards deliver the most resources possible to the classrooms.
Last year Kansas was nationally ranked in the top 11 of the most well-run states in the United States, however, we at the state level have no control of many things the federal government is doing that negatively impact our state’s economy. To be clear, the abysmal 1.5% growth rate of the national economy is overshadowing the Kansas economy, and it is thanks to our recent economic reforms that Kansas is doing as well as it is. Johnson County’s economy is growing faster than the national economy.
Judicial reform is still important to a number of citizens. Kansas adopted the “Missouri Plan” in the 1960’s, It is the only judicial nominating commission of its type in the United States for good reason—this insular group with no accountability to the public essentially picks the judges. Missouri does not even use our Missouri Plan. This structural issue is worthy of consideration of reform because it thwarts judicial ideological diversity.