Speaking to a room full of mostly Democrats, Jim Slattery made his appeal for change not only in Washington, but on the country’s roads.


Speaking to a room full of mostly Democrats, Jim Slattery made his appeal for change not only in Washington, but on the country’s roads.

“We can no longer stand by and watch billions of our dollars be spent on oil going to people who hate us,” Slattery said. “I want us to develop all forms of alternative energy in this country.”

Slattery, D-Topeka, is running against Pat Roberts, R-Dodge City, for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

And while Roberts is the incumbent, having served 40 years in the Senate, Slattery is no newcomer to the political arena. Slattery served 12 years in the U.S. House of Representatives before an unsuccessful bid for governor.

Slattery had a town-hall meeting Tuesday at The Breadbasket, part of a statewide tour during the heart of the campaign season.

Slattery touched on issues like health care, care for veterans and passenger rail while talking with county Democrats.

He came out in support of the expansion of passenger rail, just a block from Newton’s passenger station.

“I’m well aware of the railroad legacy of this area,” Slattery said. “I’d love to see us have light rail, high-speed rail serving our cities. The Europeans are moving people by rail at 150 miles an hour on a ride that is as smooth as sitting in your living room. We can do that. The way we get the money to do that is to quit shipping our money out of the country, to our enemies, for oil.”

Finding a way to be oil independent was a constant theme of the morning —with Slattery point out that if the country could reduce oil imports by 20 percent, it would mean a savings of $150 billion a year.

He also pointed out to reduce oil consumption, transportation will need to be a central part of the discussion.

“Seventy percent of our oil usage is for fuel,” Slattery said. “We are consuming it in our cars.”

Slattery also talked about medical costs — with two ideas he would like to take to Washington.

He believes Medicare should purchase prescription drugs in volume direct from drug companies to reduce the price to consumers and save funds. He also said he wants to see some kind of medical coverage for low-income children.

“There isn’t a Democratic solution to our problems ,and there isn’t a Republican solution to our problems,” Slattery said. “We have to build the solutions from down the middle. We have to recapture the attitude of patriotism above partisanship.”