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De La Isla, LaTurner debate covers COVID-19, healthcare, law enforcement

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 3:32 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The two major party candidates for the 2nd Congressional District race faced off in a debate Friday on 13 NEWS Live at Five.

Topeka Mayor, Michelle De La Isla (D-KS), and State Treasurer, Jake LaTurner (R-KS), shared their stance on a wide variety of topics including the COVID-19 response, access to healthcare, racial equity and gun laws.

Health care was a major sticking point as the two major party candidates in the state’s second congressional district went head to head on Friday.

When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, both candidates say decisions should be kept local.

“I believe that the best response is are being dealt with at the local levels,” De La Isla answered. “We have to ensure that we listen to our experts.”

“I do not support national mask mandate,” LaTurner responded. “I do support individually following the CDC guidelines.”

When it comes to their broader views on health care, the two disagree, with LaTurner opposing medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act.

“What Kansans are concerned with is the rising cost of healthcare,” LaTurner explained. “They want to the ability to choose their own doctor, and they want to make sure that pre-existing conditions are covered.”

“Currently the only plan that supports protecting pre-existing conditions is the Affordable Care Act," De La Isla disagreed. "When I get to congress, I will ensure that the Affordable Care Act is not only safe guarded, but we are able to have the medicaid dollars for expansion that are coming to the states.”

More disagreement surfaced in a question on social justice issues.

“Law enforcement men and women are putting themselves in harms way and they deserve our support,” LaTurner responded. "Mayor De La Isla has stated publicly I will tell you quote 'defunding the police is a very bad marketing term, because what it means is what the city of Topeka has already been doing in practice for the last two years.”

“I have never supported defunding the police, our police department has had significant increases," De La Isla argued. "If we are going to talk about social justice and racial equity, it starts early before there’s crime. It starts with making sure that we are able to ensure that every single neighborhood in our community feels like they are safe.”

Candidates also had a chance to ask each other questions, LaTurner asked De La Isla about supporting the city’s fee increase on utilities.

“We needed to make sure that we were able to reconcile our budget. We have to pass a sound budget. To that, I say we are not the only ones doing that,” De La Isla responded.

De La Isla asked LaTurner how he could be trusted, pointing to lack of support for medicaid expansion as a state senator.

“The federal government said they were going to come in with 90 percent of the money and put the state on the hook for 10 percent - 10 percent of the money we did not have at the time,” LaTurner answered.

November 3rd is election day. Polls will be open from 7:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M.

You can watch the debate below:

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