I offer a lifetime legacy of working across the current toxic partisan divide. As your most experienced local criminal defense lawyer, I have devoted 45 years to advocating the interests of poor, immigrants, African-Americans, mentally-ill, LGTBQ, veterans, single parents, homeless, addicts and other downtrodden citizens. As an elected official, with a graduate business degree, I have worked with leaders, here and in other counties, on issues of traffic planning, jails & prisons, education and the environment. I am invested in this community every single day.
Our youth are dying, becoming increasingly addicted, and the fabric of our society is becoming diminished. The War on Drugs has been an ironic failure and has overloaded our jails (crime schools teaching only drug connections and drug dealing connections). Since I ran for Attorney-General 13 years ago, I have been working on proposals to REFORM THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM (15 available upon request) to reduce incarcerations, take vulnerable persons (e.g. mentally-ill) out of jails and reduce the number of illegal guns on our streets.
As a long time advocate and speaker on behalf of felon voting, I encourage all reasonable efforts to increase voter turn-out. However, with my knowledge and experience dealing with the criminal and shadier side of life, I expect future corrupt election operatives will adjust and become more interested in ballot harvesting and other schemes, to which our General Assembly must respond.
I will continue my efforts advocating on behalf of immigrants, hemp, international connections and Constitutional elimination of unnecessary offices (e.g. Fayette County Judge Executive, state Treasurer and many county jailors who do not have jails). The return on our invested pension funds has been abysimily low, and seems overdue for legislative oversight.
Start by concentrating on the needs of single parents, rather than on us old folks. Lack of in-person education (especially in elementary schools), declining numbers of daycare spots and reductions in employment opportunities result in lost insurance availabilities (more kids and parents suffering from less dental and medical care), serious mental stress (especially when there are multiple children) and likely deprivation of healthy foods for our families. Furthermore, CITIZEN INTERVENTION TEAMS can rectify some of the ways mentally-ill become torturously housed in our jails for weeks and months without diagnoses and community treatments.
Currently, I am sharing responsibility to raise two very young mixed racial boys who, like many others, will need to be instructed on the "talk" to protect themselves from possible prejudiced police stops and searches. However my experiences in peace marches with mothers whose children have been murdered and other explosive situations convince me that we do not need less police, but more (as I teach my Veterans Court mentees) emphases on the joys and responsibilities of FATHERHOOD. Since I proudly learned of my father's seminary involvement with MLK,Jr., my firing for sitting at the "wrong" table (with non-Caucasians) as I worked my way through college, when I founded the first integrated professional fraternity at UK, and while I chaired the county Human Rights Commission through the Tony Sullivan riots, I observe and steadfastly advocate against systemic racism. Patriotically, we, in this "Nation of Diversity," must work TOGETHER to overcome this toxic partisanship.
I am concluding my 22nd year as State Representative from Lexington. After I received my MSW, I began lobbying on children's issues in Washington and Frankfort. In 1998, I received a call from Fayette Democrat Headquarters in Lexington to see if I would run against a two term male Republican incumbent. I had never even volunteered for a political campaign! However I had spent the previous three years lobbying in DC and Frankfort on children's issues, and I knew I could do so much more for children and families while serving in office. You may recognize my name as I was the sponsor of Smoke Free Ky X3 and making many people happy and many mad! I then tackled corruption for three years that was well hidden in certain Area Development Districts and made even more people mad. It is amazing the number of bills I have sponsored, drafted and passed over the years. Go to my new website (the old was hacked) and view my accomplishments if you are curious.
So many issues at this time are complicated even further by the Pandemic. Our greatest challenge will be dealing with a deficit budget likely at our local level and an extremely difficult one at the state level. We will have to consume and stretch every revenue dollar as efficiently as possible and hope to entice more industry to Kentucky to generate more revenue.
Every cent is needed to protect the safety net for non working families as well as businesses, and communities shattered by this event.
I sit on the Appropriations and Revenue Committee where discussions will be intense and solutions difficult to find without experts. I welcome any suggestion from the audience!
I support voting by mail, early voting and safe voting at locations which allow social distancing. This has worked in other countries so we are not reinventing the wheel and hearing horror stories about lost ballots. Yes, we will make mistakes, but then we will learn how to fix them or our freedom is threatened.
Education continues to be the elephant in the room that should have been treated like " Family," funded appropriately so students are safe and teachers are honored for the challenges they face while being underfunded in the classroom.This is a system that is not consistent across the state due to income barriers at the local level, and budget challenges at the state level.
Surely other, rural states have figured this out!
We need to vote on bills that will generate revenue streams which the good old boys have been kicking down the road for lack of courage for years. Surrounding states have legalized medical marijuana, online gaming and other tax related issues, but they have never been brought to a vote in Kentucky. Perhaps these very wise men have a rabbit in their hat that they just cannot wait to pull out. Either that or we will be forced to slash and burn, not fill positions, choose to not fund that which we have budgeted, and watch which direction planned objectives for the state move.
We all know the show is controlled by two people in the Senate as well as entities that have great influence over politics in Kentucky. I am sick to death of this game.
I really look forward to the expansion of telehealth to meet the needs of our people in the rural areas of the state. We have been working on this with some progress for the past twenty two years while I have been serving in Frankfort. This should include expansion of health and mental health related symptoms. I am not aware how dental or ophthalmic care can expand in this manner.
That is one tough question. Many people in rural regions of the state have no idea what the problem is because they have not witnessed the institutionalization of a race. Those of us in the city have only to open our eyes and ears to know this situation has become a crisis. If you look at prison sentencing and ethnic distribution of time served for like events, you cannot deny that institutional racism is alive and well in Kentucky. It is imperative we seek solutions that have worked elsewhere and most importantly we must have an open conversation that is not hostile in order to seek the correct answers. This is America! Shame on us!