Rep. Kent Thompson

Tribune reporter Greg Lower is writing previews for candidates facing off in Tuesday’s primary election.

The incumbent Kansas Representative for the local district did not plan to run again before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. But he is in for the long haul now. 

District 9 Representative Kent Thompson faces challenger Armando Hernandez in Tuesday’s Republican primary. The winner will face Democrat Alana Cloutier in the general election.

Thompson said that during the pandemic is not the time to flip the House seat. State officials project a $1 billion decrease in income, and Thompson said there are a lot of issues that will take some tough decisions.

“We’re in whole new world,” he said. “When you have unsteady income streams, there’s a myriad of decisions that have to be made.”

Thompson said it has been a totally different election, with less human contact and no large gatherings. He said his concern is that the coronavirus will not be going away, similar to how influenza kills a lot of people and never goes away.

He likes the idea of local control, so that Chanute, Humboldt and Iola can make different decisions about the pandemic and Chanute is not treated like Wichita schools. Thompson said “one size fits all” is not the best policy.

One of the Legislature’s recent accomplishments was a highway plan, but Thompson said it was the first time one had passed without a funding stream. He said the state failed to make investments in infrastructure.

“It’s going to cost us,” he said.

Thompson noted that the Legislature had poor leadership last year. In the 2018-19 session, more than 100 bills passed, but last year the Legislature only passed 19. He said leaders sat on the bills and did not bring them from committee for a vote.

Thompson chairs the Local Government committee and said only one or two bills came up for vote.

“I spent a lot of time working on them, myself and my committee,” he said, and it was frustrating to see that wasted.

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