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Primary 2018

This is the third of five question and answer sessions with candidates who have opposition in the May 22 primary. This week, seven of the eight candidates running for Kentucky’s 6th District Congressional seat took part. (The Sun was unable to reach Democrat Theodore Green.) The candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name, beginning with the Republicans. This answers, including a bio, were limited to 100 words.

Andy Barr

Brief bio:

I ran for Congress for a cause – to save America from bankruptcy, restore the American Dream and keep the American people safe and secure. I have never stopped fighting for these principles. Now more than ever, it is critical for central and eastern Kentuckians to have a strong, proven, and accountable leader representing them in Congress.

As a conservative, I believe that limited government and free enterprise empower the American people with the greatest opportunity to pursue happiness, provide for their families, and give their children a better life.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities, legislative and otherwise?

Protecting our national security, creating the conditions for private sector jobs and economic growth, and fighting the growing epidemic of drug abuse in our communities are what the people of the Sixth District have told me are their top concerns. I work every day with these priorities in mind. And as the Representative of central and eastern Kentucky – it is critical that I advocate for our signature industries such as bourbon distilling, thoroughbred horse racing, car manufacturing, and Kentucky coal – and the thousands of Kentuckians they employ.

What is your assessment of President Trump’s character and his performance in office?

I’m proud of the progress President Trump has made in advancing legislation and policies that have been a benefit to the Sixth District -- signing into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, ending the War on Coal, and growing the American economy. I, along with the overwhelming majority of Kentuckians in the Sixth District, believed he was the right choice in 2016, and from what we are seeing in a booming economy, America’s renewed leadership on the global stage, and tax cuts that are putting real money back to Kentucky families, I absolutely believe we made the right decision.

Data mining and ever-more powerful computer programs have resulted in gerrymandered legislative districts across the country. This results in a high percentage of non-competitive seats, politicians afraid to compromise for fear of a primary challenge, and no “political middle.” Some feel establishing nonpartisan bodies to draw state and congressional legislative districts would help solve these problems. What is your view?

I have always believed that competition is a good thing, and carry that same belief to this question. Redistricting that considers geographic integrity and places communities with shared concerns together, prioritizing people, not politicians, should be our goal. It is my hope that those in charge of the next redistricting in Kentucky will place those concerns foremost.

Name a politician, past or present, whom you admire – and why.

As one of Kentucky’s most celebrated statesmen, Henry Clay proved that an unwavering dedication to principle and a practical commitment to compromise are not incompatible values. As the “Great Compromiser” himself demonstrated, they are instead the tools of statesmanship.

Chuck Eddy

Brief bio:

Lifelong registered Republican. Raised in a middle-class family with a scientist Dad and a deeply community involved Mom. Met my wife at college and have been together ever since. One daughter, great son-in-law and a 6-year-old grandson! Lived in various parts of the country. Spent a year in Japan during college. Traveled to Southeast Asia with my wife on a sales incentive trip. Born again Christian. Lover of music, books, horses, dogs and cats. Used to have a Rocky Mountain horse farm in Estill County with my wife. Live in a condo in Lexington now with only cats, no longer any horses or dogs.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities, legislative and otherwise?

Healthcare: Improving not gutting Obamacare. Keep basic health essentials, including free birth control, preventing unwanted pregnancies, reducing abortions.

Veterans care: With active-duty and veterans in my family, because when they serve, they serve us and we owe them.

Criminal Justice Reform: U.S.: Highest percentage of population imprisoned In The World. Decriminalize marijuana; release those imprisoned for small amounts of drugs.

What is your assessment of President Trump’s character and his performance in office?

Ever since his announcement in June 2015 denigrating Mexican immigrants, I have fought against President Trump. Trump’s character is severely lacking as his horrible Access Hollywood tape from years ago demonstrated. In my opinion, he has only made one good decision, nominating General Mattis as Defense Secretary. Everything he has said, tweeted or proposed hurts the majority of Americans. His statement that there were fine people on both sides at Charlottesville was highly offensive. A big reason I am running is because Andy Barr has fallen right in line with Trump’s agenda and never spoken against any of the horrible things Trump’s has said. The tax cut benefited primarily the wealthy and large corporations, not common folks like my family.

Data mining and ever-more powerful computer programs have resulted in gerrymandered legislative districts across the country. This results in a high percentage of non-competitive seats, politicians afraid to compromise for fear of a primary challenge, and no political middle. Some feel establishing nonpartisan bodies to draw state and congressional legislative districts would help solve these problems. What is your view?

I am 100% in agreement on non-partisan district-setting.

Name a politician, past or present, whom you admire -- and why.

Teddy Roosevelt. He led by strength without bluster. He famously said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” He brokered the peace after the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. He broke up the big business trusts. He started the National Parks System. He was extremely thoughtful.

Jim Gray

Brief bio:

Currently, I’m mayor of Lexington and before that spent a career in business, building plants and recruiting jobs to Central Kentucky. I helped build my family’s business from the edge of bankruptcy to one of America’s leading design and construction firms. Early on, I saw opportunity in recruiting Japanese companies to Kentucky. We built the Toyota plant in Georgetown. Altogether, Gray has built 160 projects across the sixth district, including YH America and Osram Sylvania in Woodford County. And I’m proud to say more than 20,000 people go to work in Gray-built facilities every day.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities, legislative and otherwise?

In short, fix healthcare, invest in education and teachers, attack the opioid crisis, grow jobs and invest in infrastructure, legalize medical marijuana, protect our seniors and more. You can see my full ‘To-Do’ list at JimGrayCongress.com/issues.

More broadly, we must put an end to the obscene amount of money and special interests influence in politics. That and hyper-partisanship are destroying our country. It’s time for civility and compromise to get things done.

On healthcare, I’ll defend the Affordable Care Act, then improve it. Finding innovations for universal access, lower premiums and lower prescription prices is critical.

What is your assessment of President Trump’s character and his performance in office?

It’s amateur hour in Washington. We need some adult supervision up there. What’s going on in Congress and the White House isn’t what we stand for here in Kentucky. I’m willing to work with anyone when it comes to delivering for Kentuckians, but I won’t back down an inch from anyone who threatens our values. Not a partisan leader in either party and not a president.

Data mining and ever-more powerful computer programs have resulted in gerrymandered legislative districts across the country. This results in a high percentage of non-competitive seats, politicians afraid to compromise for fear of a primary challenge, and no political middle. Some feel establishing nonpartisan bodies to draw state and congressional legislative districts would help solve these problems. What is your view?

In Lexington, we have a non-partisan independent committee of citizens that oversees re-districting. It’s done that way to keep the political games out. Neighborhoods shouldn’t be divided to serve a partisan agenda.

Gerrymandering is in the same league as the corrupting influence of money in politics. Congressional maps should be drawn to ensure that people are fairly represented in Washington. They should not be used as partisan tools to silence American voices.

Name a politician, past or present, whom you admire and why.

I always admire folks who engage public service for the right reasons. People who fight the big battles because it is the right thing to do. Of course, I don’t agree with anyone all the time, but here in Kentucky we’ve had and have some great public servants. It’s a long list, but a couple are former State Senator Georgia Davis Powers, a civil rights advocate and the first woman and first African-American to serve in our Senate, and Congressman John Yarmuth, who continues his work to create opportunity for working families. Public servants who put people first.

Daniel Kemph

Brief bio:

I am an IT consultant that mostly works from home. I have my choice of anywhere to live in the US and I’ve chosen the Bluegrass. I am deeply concerned about how we are being represented and the disconnect career politicians have from us. I’ve entered this race to fight for what is best for all of us; equality, fairness, and justice.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities, legislative and otherwise?

My first task is to set up a functioning office to address the immediate needs of my constituents; staffing, request tracking (Social Security, Disability, etc.) and tracking prompt responses to those requests. The second priority is securing committee assignments that best suit the needs of Kentuckians; Agricultural Committee, Mining Committee, etc. My third priority is developing a policy plan to timely write bills or inserting amendments so that responsible legislative action can be taken that best addresses the needs of Kentuckians as well as all Americans.

What is your assessment of President Trump’s character and his performance in office?

President Trump is the duly elected leader of the Executive Branch and leader of the Republican Party. Every president has had their challenges and could possibly have done better while serving. President Trump is no exception. My disagreement is with the Republican agenda of tax cuts for millionaires. My disagreement with Republicans in Congress is their failure to do their duty in the role of oversight of the Executive Branch.

Data mining and ever-more powerful computer programs have resulted in gerrymandered legislative districts across the country. This results in a high percentage of non-competitive seats, politicians afraid to compromise for fear of a primary challenge, and no “political middle.” Some feel establishing nonpartisan bodies to draw state and congressional legislative districts would help solve these problems. What is your view?

Nonpartisan bodies to draw district lines would help. As would leveraging technology and the insight of experts. However, it is not the federal government’s role to dictate to states on how to draw district lines. Now that we have seen what happens when we are not informed and not involved in elections, we need to do more to get to know who is running for office and vote responsibly. We are only manipulated if we allow ourselves to be manipulated.

Name a politician, past or present, whom you admire – and why.

The politicians I’ve been most impressed with recently are the teachers running for office for the first time. When I began my own campaign, I met and tried to discuss multiple issues with many of them. While they were well versed in education policy I was disappointed in their knowledge of broader policy. Often the answer I would hear is “I need to check on that. I’ll get back to you.” What impressed me was that they actually did. They have learn about policy beyond education and have developed themselves into well versed and well informed candidates.

Amy McGrath

Brief bio:

Amy graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1997 with a B.S. in Political Science. In the U.S. Marine Corps, she served as an F/A-18D Hornet Weapons Systems Officer and F/A-18 pilot. She completed tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and became the first female Marine to fly a combat mission in an F/A-18.

Amy married U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Erik Henderson and they now have three children. She served as the Pentagon’s Marine Corps’ liaison to agencies including the State Department and USAID. Once earning Lieutenant Colonel, Amy taught at the U.S. Naval Academy. After serving 20 years, Amy retired.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities, legislative and otherwise?

Healthcare: I’m committed to working in a bipartisan way on the Affordable Care Act, which lowered Kentucky’s uninsured rate dramatically. I believe in a Medicare buy-in option for those over 55 and a public option.

Foreign Policy: We must be the champion of democratic movements, human rights (including women’s rights), and justice. After serving my country, I understand how critical this is, and will constantly bring American values back into foreign policy.

Money in Politics: (the Supreme Court Decision) Citizens United drove lawmakers to cower to special interests. With 20,000 small dollar donors, I will do everything to support counter legislation.

What is your assessment of President Trump’s character and his performance in office?

A leader is someone who you want to work for, someone who is honest, respectful, and empowering. The leaders I respected the most in the military cared about service. They were servant leaders who put their country above themselves and took responsibility for those under them. Trump is the opposite of that. He has disrespected Gold Star families, and is disparaging of our American institutions, freedoms, and our values. He promised to help working Americans and instead hurt those very same people by favoring corporations and the wealthiest few with massive tax breaks leaving little for ordinary folks.

Data mining and ever-more powerful computer programs have resulted in gerrymandered legislative districts across the country. This results in a high percentage of non-competitive seats, politicians afraid to compromise for fear of a primary challenge, and no “political middle.” Some feel establishing nonpartisan bodies to draw state and congressional legislative districts would help solve these problems. What is your view?

Being elected to Congress should be done through the voice of the people, not through partisan gerrymandering. Non-partisan bodies should be the ones to draw state and congressional legislative districts so that the voice of the people can be heard instead of the voice of partisan politics or special interests. Gerrymandering done through partisanship creates a barrier for individuals to vote, which is harmful to our democracy. Our democracy is one grounded in the voice of the people and without being able to hear them, we cannot create policy for them or about them.

Name a politician, past or present, whom you admire – and why.

Abraham Lincoln. After he lost, he kept running for office because he strived to make a difference, and, once President, he committed to being commander-in-chief. That may sound obvious, but there are politicians that don’t do their job – making hard decisions, that could be politically costly. Lincoln did his job. He took responsibility for everything under him, and was in no way an ideologue. He surrounded himself with smart individuals, including rivals, because he knew each person was significant. He always did what he felt was best for the nation and worked in a pragmatic way to get things done.

Reggie Thomas

Brief bio:

Reggie Thomas has lived in Lexington since he was 14 when his mother returned home after the death of his father. He graduated from Kentucky public schools, Dartmouth, and Harvard Law.

Reggie and his wife, Lynda, are the parents of three grown children. The Thomas family has been active in St. Paul A.M.E. for over 35 years.

In 2015, Lynda passed away after a prolonged battle with cancer.

In 2013, Reggie was elected to the Kentucky State Senate, where he is an advocate for public education, protecting pensions for teachers, first responders and state workers, and raising the minimum wage.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities, legislative and otherwise?

“Medicare for All,” raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and a 21st Century Infrastructure.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has some of the worst healthcare numbers in the country. We have the highest rate of deaths from cancer in the nation. Kentucky’s numbers are almost 30 percent higher than the national average, and in some counties, in the 6th District, it is nearly 50 percent higher. “Medicare-for All” will save lives and money.

Raise the minimum wage, because hard work should be rewarded.

21st Century Infrastructure - roads and bridges along with high speed internet and modern power grid.

What is your assessment of President Trump’s character and his performance in office?

Poor. We have to elect a Democratic Congress in 2018 as a check to his excesses and vote him out in 2020.

Data mining and ever-more powerful computer programs have resulted in gerrymandered legislative districts across the country. This results in a high percentage of non-competitive seats, politicians afraid to compromise for fear of a primary challenge, and no “political middle.” Some feel establishing nonpartisan bodies to draw state and congressional legislative districts would help solve these problems. What is your view?

Yes, we need to take partisanship out of drawing district lines and repeal Citizens United (the Supreme Court decision on campaign finance) to get big money out of politics to reduce the radical extremism on both the left and the right.

Name a politician, past or present, whom you admire – and why.

Mahatma Gandhi, because this teaching, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world,” has been one of the guide posts for my life and my career in public service.

Geoff Young

Brief bio:

Bachelor’s in Economics from MIT. Masters in Mechanical Engineering from UMass Amherst. Masters in Agricultural Economics from UK.

From 1978-1979, staff engineer at a research consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass.

From 1982-1983, staff engineer at the Kentucky Small Business Development Center.

From 1991-1994, environmentalist principal at the Kentucky Division of Energy (KDOE), which is Kentucky’s state Energy Office in Frankfort. In 1994, assistant director of KDOE. Worked on energy policy issues, energy-efficient building systems, and alternative fuels for vehicles. From 1994-2004, represented KDOE on energy efficiency collaboratives at LG&E, KU, AEP, and Duke Energy.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities, legislative and otherwise?

Preventing the U.S. from starting or triggering a nuclear war that would almost certainly end all human life on earth. Our military empire must be dismantled, all our bases in other countries closed, and all our troops brought home. We must improve diplomatic relations with Russia immediately.

Impeaching President Trump and Secretary of Defense James Mattis for war crimes in Yemen and Syria. Aggression is a war crime.

Turning the Democratic Party into a party of peace and a party that is free of massive corruption (as we saw in 2016 when the DNC stole the primary from Bernie Sanders).

What is your assessment of President Trump’s character and his performance in office?

Donald Trump has a very weak character. He has no principles that he stands up for. As a candidate in 2016, he said many times, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we got along with Russia, and China, and all these countries?” I agreed with that. But as soon as he was sworn in, he was easily swayed by the media and neoconservative Democrats to make U.S. relations with Russia much worse. The result has been a second Cold War, which could become a shooting war at any time. He promised to drain the swamp but never kept that promise.

Data mining and ever-more powerful computer programs have resulted in gerrymandered legislative districts across the country. This results in a high percentage of non-competitive seats, politicians afraid to compromise for fear of a primary challenge, and no political middle. Some feel establishing nonpartisan bodies to draw state and congressional legislative districts would help solve these problems. What is your view?

I strongly agree that establishing nonpartisan bodies to draw state and congressional legislative districts would help solve those problems. In general, the GOP suppresses voters of color in general elections, which is racist. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, routinely rigs and steals its own primaries. In 2015, for example, Jack Conway and the Kentucky Democratic Party rigged the gubernatorial primary against me by nominating him at a Unity Press Conference on Feb. 9, 2015, more than three months before the May primary. That constituted felony election fraud, and I sued them over it. My latest lawsuit is now on appeal.

Name a politician, past or present, whom you admire and why.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. practiced nonviolent resistance that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1967, he broadened his focus to oppose the triple evils of racism, poverty, and war. His principled and eloquent opposition to the Vietnam War probably led to his assassination by the FBI and some racist police officers in Memphis, Tenn. on April 4, 1968. Along with Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. King’s example has inspired me for the last 40 years in my ongoing work for peace.

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