Candidate questionnaire: Tom Cox, 17th District House of Representatives
The following are responses from Tom Cox, a Republican candidate for the District 17 seat in the Kansas House of Representatives. Cox will face the incumbent, Brett Hildabrand, in the primary election. The winner of the primary will face Democrat Helen Stohl in the general election.
Education: Bachelors in History & Political Science - KU. Masters in Journalism - KU
Occupation: Vice-President at SPMI, a self storage operator
Years lived in district: 28
Previous political experience: Volunteered on numerous Republican campaigns in the past.
Campaign website: www.tom-cox.org
What made you decide to run for office?
Our district is not being represented or protected in Topeka right now. I am frustrated with the direction our Governor has taken our state financially and when I found out my opponent strongly supported these destructive policies and was not advocating any policy changes to get us back on course I knew we needed a new representative. I love this community, I was born and raised here and moved back into this community because of how great it is and I want to fight to protect it in Topeka.
What special qualifications would you bring to this office?
My business experience sets me apart in this race. I have helped multiple companies in Kansas successfully launch and grow, adding many jobs into our economy. Currently, I oversee a $600 million commercial real estate portfolio and have successfully increased net revenue every year while managing it. I know that sometimes you have to invest money to make more while other times you need to find areas to cut and reduce spending. Approaching the state finances with a business perspective will help us get out of this downward spiral that is heading towards bankruptcy and get us back on the path to prosperity.
How do you plan to stay in touch with constituents if you are elected?
I will respond to every email and phone call I get while in office, whether constituents agree or disagree with him, they will be my boss and always get a response. Additionally, I plan to hold regular town halls updating the community on what is happening in Topeka and take questions to find out what is most important to our community. You will see me regularly at city and chamber events as well. How can I know what the voice of this district sounds like if I am not regularly engaged with the community? I plan to take the district's voice to Topeka, not my own.
As you have been campaigning, what issue have you found is most important for constituents in your district? How would you address this issue?
The most important issue has been the massive debt spending going on by the state and the failed current tax policy Gov. Brownback initiated with support of my opponent. People are frustrated that they are paying higher taxes than ever while certain people are paying no taxes and all the while our state is heading towards financial ruin. We need to look at large scale tax reform right away. This includes lowering the sales tax back down to a reasonable level, while putting in new incentives for businesses to come to Kansas and to grow here, but also ensuring no one is getting special tax exemptions that have to be subsidized by the rest of us.
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?
I think debt spending and tax reform are by far the most important, as I mentioned above.
After that I think comes education. There are a lot of myths surrounding the debate over education in Kansas right now and I feel the real discussion of how to improve and protect our system is not happening. We need representatives that are going to fight not just to "hold harmless" our schools here, but fight to ensure they are reaching their max potential. That are making sure the money is getting into our classrooms and enhancing our student's educational experience, not administrative salary's. We need a long-term funding formula for our schools so that we can stop wasting millions in tax dollars on court battles. We need to work together to find a Kansas solution to this problem. I don't know the answer, but what I am ready to do is sit down at the table with all parties and work to find a solution.
Local control is another major issue. Topeka does not like when DC tries to tell it what to do and how to run our state, but yet our Governor and current legislature have been doing the exact same thing to our cities. We are seeing unprecedented stripping of control from local authorities, whether it be cities or school boards. If you don't believe me, call up our Mayor or city council members and ask them yourself. We need to make sure we are coordinating our legislative agendas with local government and our chambers of commerce. Just as we want them to do the same with us. Local government and state government need to a team, working together to ensure the best policies for our community and right now that is not happening. I plan to change that by being a regular participant in city events and meeting with our local delegations, something our current representative has never once done in 4 years.
Stimulating economic growth in the state. Our tax cuts didn't work, which makes sense. It doesn't matter if you have a great product if you don't have anyone to sell it. We have under-staffed the Department of Commerce in Topeka, the people responsible for courting businesses to start or move into Kansas. We just assumed personal tax breaks for business owners would spur growth, but it hasn't. We need to develop better incentives to bring businesses here and hire the staff to deliver on them. Shawnee is a shining example of how incentive programs can grow the economy. Our Chamber, city and Economic Development Council have created an incentive program that has brought many new businesses into Shawnee and we have been blessed by extremely talented individuals running these programs and recruiting businesses here. I want to take the successful Shawnee model and implement it at a state-wide level.