What's your vision for Kentucky? How will the lives of Kentuckians be improved as a result of your time in office? What legislative committees will you request to serve on once elected?
"My vision for Kentucky is that our Commonwealth will thrive by creating a just and sustainable economy. We'll have equality and fairness, in health and educational outcomes, for all people, from all backgrounds. People will enjoy a beautiful environment that is honored and preserved through thoughtful governance and growth. Kentuckians will know their vote counts, will be able to vote, and will feel like those elected to serve are responsive to the requests of their constituents. My Kentucky, or the one I long for, is one where there is equal justice for all people. When I am elected, I will seek to be part of the Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee, Education Committee, Health and Family Services Committee, and Licensing, Occupations, and Administrative Regulations Committee. I believe my background as a social worker and attorney would lend itself to doing good work in these committees. I have seen the way that laws, which might look good on paper, hurt vulnerable individuals and families because the people who drafted the laws did not even consider how those laws would be implemented. I will always have my eye on how new laws and regulations will impact working Kentucky families, and will do everything I can to make Kentucky the best place to live, for all of us."
Is addressing the climate crisis a priority for you? What policies do you support to create good jobs and affordable energy while rapidly reducing pollution?
"I feel blessed to have grown up in a family that was talking about climate change and environmentalism before I was even born. My grandfather was a geologist, and after his retirement, a gentleman farmer, who taught me about recycling, greenhouse gases, and global warming. He had a close-to-the-earth lifestyle that I am reminded of every time I read Wendell Berry. Because of the priceless lessons he taught me, I am deeply committed to taking the bold steps needed to address our changing climate. I want to help preserve Kentucky's natural beauty and splendor. We must become better environmental stewards, and quickly, if we hope to minimize the climate change which is threatening all of us. I would love to see Kentucky's economy grow through investment in green energy research and production. We can harvest solar and wind power at reclaimed mountaintop coal mining sites. We can lower greenhouse gas and other toxic emissions by better-regulating our manufacturing industries. Opponents of environmental protection will portray these efforts as job-killers, but there's no truth in that description; in reality, environmental protections are life-savers. We can't afford to delay environmental protection progress any longer."
What's your perspective on education in Kentucky? How do you feel about charter schools?
"I'm a staunch supporter of public schools. I am anti-charter school, and believe that public dollars should be spent on public schools. I support our teachers, and want to see them be properly compensated for their noble profession. I'm for local control of schools, where SBDM councils have more say-so about curriculum than politicians in Frankfort. I believe our state budget surplus shouldn't be converted into tax refunds, but instead should be spent on education, infrastructure, and other important projects."
How would you ensure access to quality, affordable healthcare to poor and working class individuals across all Kentucky counties? What are your legislative priorities for the overall health of Black and Indigenous people of color, as it relates to COVID 19, and overall health?
"Kentuckians benefited greatly from the Affordable Care Act. Kynect was one of the best versions of the ACA implemented by any state. Healthcare is one of many aspects of American life where the disparities between "haves" and "have nots" is plain to see. There are several tools we can use to fix healthcare inequality in Kentucky. Enhancing and expanding Kynect is a start. We should ensure that Kentuckians are maximizing their use of all the Medicaid and Medicare benefits available to them, through the work of Kynectors. We need to make sure medicines are affordable, and the Legislature can do that. One benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic was the expanded use of telehealth appointments. While they are obviously useful in pandemic times, telehealth plays a vital role in ensuring healthcare access to communities that are remote or have limited transportation options. While access to telehealth in communities with poor internet infrastructure or limited access to technology is less than ideal, telehealth remains an important tool in our public health toolkit. Another important tool in our toolkit is health betterment (pre-sickness) programs. When people live in areas where it is hard to access healthy food, they are more likely to suffer from diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. Farmers' markets that accept EBT benefits, community gardens, and programs like GleanKY that redistribute grocery produce make healthy food accessible and affordable. As a Legislator, I'll support programs like this, and do my part to protect and expand them."
What are your thoughts on our state tax structure-- both income taxes and sales taxes? What would you do to ensure everyone pays their fair share to raise adequate revenue, fight poverty, and invest in Kentucky's under-resourced communities and the services we all need and deserve?
"I agree that Kentucky's income tax system is unfairly structured. I support progressive tax structures, where the more someone earns, the higher their income tax rate will be. This used to be the way it was–we only have to look back a few decades to see this type of tax structure in use, and a progressive tax structure is the way it should be. I support adjustments to our state income tax structure that would increase revenue while limiting the impact on low-income or vulnerable families. Our state sales tax, at 6%, is about the average rate among the states. While sales tax does help maintain nearly half of the funding for our state budget, I do believe that there are items being taxed that should not be. For example, non-prescription drugs and women's hygiene items (pads, tampons, etc.) should not be subject to a sales tax, because they are indispensable items which someone can't easily choose to forego, just because they have a limited budget."
What is your position on cannabis?
"I am in favor of complete legalization of marijuana with automatic expungement of past cannabis-related convictions. I believe marijuana and alcohol should be regulated similarly. Kentucky is losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue due to our refusal to legalize; states that have legalized have not changed course. I would also gladly entertain lesser proposals, such as medical marijuana, which is currently legal in three-quarters of the United States."