Candidate Questionnaires - Downloadable Files

Andy Beshear (docx)

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Adam Edelen (docx)

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Rocky Adkins (docx)

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Geoff Young (docx)

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Greg Stumbo (docx)

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Jason Griffith (docx)

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Jason Belcher (docx)

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Geoff Sebesta (docx)

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Chris Tobe (docx)

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Kelsey Hayes Coots (docx)

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Josh Mers (docx)

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Michael Bowman (docx)

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Robert Conway (docx)

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Candidate Questionnaire - Governor

Andy Beshear

1. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I am a fighter that gets real results. I have  taken on and won tough fights for the people of Kentucky.  I continue to fight special interests like the drug companies and bullies like Governor Matt Bevin when they hurt Kentucky families. As Attorney General, I not only protect the retirement of teachers and first responders, defend healthcare for families and get justice for victims of rape and sexual assault, I will always stand with them in their fight. I get things done, and I’ll be an effective governor because I'm a relentless fighter for Kentucky families.


2. What will you do about the rising cost of healthcare?

Health care is a basic human right. All Kentuckians, no matter where they live or how much they earn, deserve access to affordable health care. I’m currently fighting against a federal court ruling which would eliminate mandatory coverage for pre-existing conditions and could eliminate health coverage for 1.3 million Kentuckians — costing Kentucky in both money and lives. Also, on my first day as governor, I will halt Governor Bevin’s effort to throw thousands of families off the Medicaid program.

I am also the only candidate in this primary with a standalone healthcare plan.


3. How are you going to bring Kentucky into the future?

We must prepare our workforce for the 21st century in jobs well-suited for Kentucky in fields like agritech, automation, data analytics and healthcare; we can build an economy and workforce for the future. In a global economy, it’s vitally important that skills training continue after high school. As governor, I’ll promote apprenticeship training and work to ensure that Kentuckians can afford community college, technical school or college. In order to attract businesses to our state, we need an educated and highly-trained workforce.


4. How do you plan on addressing income inequality in Kentucky?

Under Matt Bevin, Kentucky is near the bottom in the nation for job and wage growth. I will work every day to bring good-paying jobs that enable our hardworking men and women to raise their families. My vision for growing our economy doesn’t depend on massive give-aways for wealthy out-of-state CEOs like we’ve seen from Matt Bevin. We should be investing in our workforce and focusing on the areas in which Kentucky is uniquely positioned to lead, like agritech, automation, data analytics and healthcare.


5. What are your goals if elected?

I believe in a big, bright future for Kentucky. But right now, so many of our Kentucky families are struggling. Wages seem to never go up, while bills rise year after year. It’s getting harder and harder for people just to get by – much less send their kids to college, save for retirement, or set aside some dollars for emergencies. All of us face rising medical bills and far too many Kentuckians are worried about whether protections for things like preexisting conditions are going remain in place or if insurance companies will be allowed to charge women and seniors even more.
 

And what we’re getting out of Frankfort right now is no leadership and no solutions. Instead, the current governor is giving massive tax subsidies to out-of-state CEOs, trying to slash teacher and public servant pensions and doing everything he can to rip access to healthcare from thousands of Kentucky families.
 

That’s not right and those aren’t our Kentucky values.
 

Jacqueline and I are running to protect access to affordable health care, ensure pensions are there for our workers who did everything right and deserve a secure retirement, strengthen our public schools and build an economy that helps our local businesses flourish and workers get ahead.

Adam Edelen

  1. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

While beating Matt Bevin is important, I’m also running a campaign with a real vision and plan to build a modern Kentucky where you can live your version of the American dream no matter where you were born, what color your skin is, who your parents are, or who you love. 

What sets me apart is not limited to my vision – it includes my unique background as the only candidate who can go toe to toe with Matt Bevin on corruption and job creation. While other candidates have their top officials sitting in federal prison, I’ve sent crooked public officials to federal prison while also exposing hundreds of millions in misused funds at Kentucky agencies and schools. And while Matt Bevin continues to announce economic development projects that fail to materialize, I’m leading project to build the largest solar development in our Commonwealth’s history, that will create jobs for hundreds of out of work coal miners.

If you want a candidate with a real future-focused vision who’s running on more than the tired policies of the past thirty years, and a candidate who can beat Bevin on the issues that matter most, I hope to have your support.


2. What will you do about the rising cost of healthcare?

We need a governor who’s committed to health care access for every Kentuckian, and who understands that accessibility must also include affordability. As the state auditor who oversaw the rollout of Medicaid expansion and the affordable care act exchange in Kentucky while also investigating rural hospitals, I have more hands-on experience in Kentucky’s health system than anyone else running. 

Firstly, I’ve opposed the Bevin administrations dangerous and cruel proposed Medicaid changes ever since he announced them. Stripping coverage from Kentuckians is the last thing we should do as we aim to keep our families healthy and build a stronger economy. 

Second, I’ll support a reformed health care tax and assessment system that levels the playing field for all providers, provides more funding for Medicaid, and helps bring costs down across the board.

Finally, I’m committed to investing in preventative medicine, public and community health efforts, and drug treatment that will bring down costs. By ensuring that regular preventative screenings are free or low-cost, taking clear steps to prevent disease, and providing treatment options that help end addiction, we can bring down long-run costs for both privately and publicly insured Kentuckians.


3. How are you going to bring Kentucky into the future?

For too long we’ve been focused on an outdated version of economic development in which we try to make ourselves the cheapest state to do business. Families across the state have seen what this has done, with the fall of unions, stagnant wages, and fewer opportunities in forgotten places across Kentucky. 

Not only have these jobs failed to provide the wage increases we need, but many of them are threatened by automation over the coming decades. 

I’m committed to a new economic development strategy that both brings Kentucky into the 21st century and aligns us with the future. The first step is making sure that every single Kentuckian has access to quality broadband internet. It means creating main streets and downtowns everywhere that foster entrepreneurship and business growth. And it means acknowledging that we have more jobs and development to gain by accepting that climate change is real than denying it. Finally, I’ll work to make sure that the degrees and education needed to prepare for our future aren’t out of reach for any Kentuckian who’s willing to devote themselves to learning and creating opportunity for themselves.


4. How do you plan on addressing income inequality in Kentucky?

First, I’ll tell you what I won’t do: I will not pursue an economic development strategy focused on driving down wages and cutting unions off at the knees. And I won’t support regressive tax reforms that place increasing burdens on poor and middle-class Kentuckians while cutting taxes on big businesses and the rich by millions. 

But I’m also fully committed to positive steps to increase wages for Kentuckians and close income gaps. I’ll embrace a living wage so that a single mom who has kids to feed isn’t coming home with $7.25 an hour. I’ll enact policies to put an end to wage theft, when wealthy employers literally steal earned wages from their employees. And I’ll make sure that further education, whether through apprenticeships and job training, at our technical schools, or at one of Kentucky’s four-year universities is within reach for every family.


5. What are your goals if elected?

My goal is to work with Kentuckians to build a state that is ready for the future, that values its people, and that provides real opportunity for everyone. While undoing the damage of the Bevin administration is critical, that cannot be our next governor’s primary focus. I’ll be working every single day to create 21st-century opportunities, bringing up wages, and valuing the rights of each and every Kentuckian.

Candidate Questionnaire - Governor

Rocky Adkins

   1. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I grew up in rural Kentucky, the son of a school teacher and a grocery clerk, and learned the value of hard work on my family’s farm. I am a proven leader who will always stand up and fight for working families and I know how to work across the aisle to get things done, something I have proven repeatedly as the House Democratic Floor Leader. I am the only candidate who was at the forefront of expanding access to health care, who stood up to oppose legislative cuts to education and pensions, and who led the way in securing investments in energy research and tourism that have created jobs across the state. I am a cancer survivor and understand the pain and cost of an unexpected illness. I know what it’s like to be laid off because of declines in the coal industry. I know the challenges facing Kentuckians in a way no one else in this race does.


2. What will you do about the rising cost of healthcare?

Expanded Medicaid was a game-changer for Kentucky that has saved lives, improved our collective health and pumped billions of dollars into our economy. Expanded Medicaid isn’t only a health care policy; it’s also an economic development issue that supports the health care industry across our state, including our rural hospitals. Access to affordable health care lowers costs to people, hospitals and Kentucky. I will look for ways to invest more in expanding care, not spending hundreds of millions of dollars looking for ways to take away health insurance from almost 100,000 Kentuckians.


3. How are you going to bring Kentucky into the future?

Kentucky’s economy is changing, and we must work to bring 21st century jobs, like those in the aerospace industry and other high-demand sectors, to our state. Aerospace exports brought more than $12 billion to Kentucky in 2018. This means opportunity for Kentuckians. Kentucky is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this growing sector because it is training the workforce right now. We must offer even more job-training programs and affordable post-secondary education opportunities so people gain the skills necessary to secure high-wage, high-demand jobs.


4. How do you plan on addressing income inequality in Kentucky?

The first step is investing in our public school systems so that everyone, from our rural towns to our urban centers, has access to a strong education. We need to attract new businesses and industries that provide a living wage. We should look at raising the minimum wage in a tiered process with exceptions for small businesses. 


5. What are your goals if elected?

I will work to ensure that every student receives a high-quality education. I will invest in infrastructure to create new opportunities, whether it’s improving our roads and bridges or building the high-speed internet network of the future. I will work to create jobs that provide a fair wage and spur sustainable economic growth in all regions of the commonwealth. I believe that everyone should have access to health care. I am a cancer survivor and I know first-hand the importance of affordable health care. No Kentuckian should ever have to delay care or make the tough decision between purchasing prescription medication or paying their electric bill. I believe we must also make medical marijuana legal to help people that suffer from certain diseases and conditions. It is time we make voting easier, with extended early voting and automatic registration. Lastly, I will jumpstart our workforce and create new career paths for Kentuckians with free community college and job training.

Geoff Young

 1. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

1. My and Josh French's platform is the most progressive of the 8 slates running for Governor this year. Here is our campaign web site: www.young4ky.com. Please check it out and donate to our campaign so we can be sure of being allowed to participate in the KET debate.

2. I'm the only Democratic candidate with the courage to attack Matt Bevin, the Christian Right, and the GOP on the abortion issue. I can and will beat Matt Bevin on the abortion issue.

3. I'm the only Democratic candidate with the courage to sue 23 corrupt individual and 10 corrupt organizational members of the Kentucky Democratic Party (KDP) for chronic election fraud in the 2014, 2015, 2018, and 2019 Undemocratic primaries. The Kenton County Democrats are one of the corrupt organizational defendants named in my latest lawsuit, which I filed and served on April 10, 2019. I strongly suggest you all get an attorney before your time limit to reply runs out. Here's my civil complaint on Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/s/182ohi1974aquf2/Complaint%20v1%20Apr1019.doc?dl=0


2. What will you do about the rising cost of healthcare?

Josh French and I support the old U.S. House Resolution 676, which was introduced by former Congressman John Conyers (D-Detroit) from 2003 through 2017. The bill number was recently changed and the bill has been watered down by Nancy Pelosi and the “Democratic” Party Establishment in Washington, but I support Rep. Conyers' original 2017 version. At the state level, I will work with progressive members of the Kentucky House and Senate to introduce a bill that is as similar to the old H.R. 676 as possible. A genuine Medicare-for-All bill will reduce the cost of healthcare by eliminating for-profit health insurance corporations from our system and allowing the state to negotiate with Big Pharma.


3. How are you going to bring Kentucky into the future?

1. Defend and strengthen unions.

2. Defend the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and completely defeat the immoral “Right-to-Life” political movement forever.

3. End corruption and primary-election-rigging in the KDP and three of its county parties: Fayette, Kenton and Campbell.

4. Work toward a Cooperative Commonwealth. See our platform.


4. How do you plan on addressing income inequality in Kentucky?

Comprehensive tax reform, the main element of which will be to tax the super-rich. See our platform.


5. What are your goals if elected?

1. Defend and strengthen unions.

2. Comprehensive tax reform that shifts taxes from the poor to the super-rich. They can afford it but the poor cannot.

3. Defend the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and completely defeat the immoral “Right-to-Life” political movement forever.

4. End corruption and primary-election-rigging in the KDP and three of its county parties: Fayette, Kenton and Campbell.

5. Work toward a Cooperative Commonwealth. See our platform. 

Candidate Questionnaire - Attorney General

Greg Stumbo

  1.  What sets you apart from other candidates?

Experience. Being a former Attorney General, I know the office and its workings. No need for on-the-job training. I have the experience prosecuting criminal and civil cases, particularly large, complex cases like those pending against the opioid industry.

 

2.  How are you going to bring Kentucky into the future?

While the office of Attorney General doesn’t have policy making powers, I will work closely with the General Assembly on legislation protecting Kentucky’s citizens. Technology has presented many opportunities for criminals, from online child predators to identity theft and scams targeting seniors. As when I was Attorney General before, we will focus on combatting cyber crime and educating the public of its dangers.

 

3.  What are your goals if elected?

The Attorney General has a variety of functions. From protecting our most vulnerable citizens (seniors, children,) to prosecuting criminals, to rate intervention. I intend to be aggressive in every area that falls under the auspices of the office, especially in pursuing those complicit for the drug epidemic that plagues our state.


4.  How do you plan on addressing income inequality in Kentucky?

That requires policy decisions to be made by the General Assembly. But part of the charge of the AG’s office is to protect citizens, particularly lower income and elderly, through things like the consumer protection act and price gouging legislation (which I helped author when I was Attorney General previously) and other authority.

Candidate Questionnaire - Secretary of State

Jason Griffith

1.  What sets you apart from the other candidates? 

I  am an expert in IT and security. I created my own company that deals with security and crime prevention. As the Chief Executive Officer, I have      managed every part of my company from start-up to present day.

     I believe my skills sets me apart from other candidates when regarding      ways in which we can modernize our election registration and voting      system, our business registration procress, and preservation of historic      land grant documents and patents. When elected, I can hit the ground      running on day one with my platform of modernizing our system, without      having to have someone explain potential problems and disadvantages.


2.  How are you going to bring Kentucky into the future?

 I want to modernize our  election process by advocating for Automatic Voter Registration. This will allow more persons to vote, produce a higher turnout of our 18-25 year old  population, make County Clerk's job of correcting voter information easier, and help push back at efforts by Republicans to purge voters. I  will also advocate for earlier voting and longer hours on Election Day.   Our 6am to 6pm voting times are antiquated and need updated.

     I also will advocate for a reduction in the fee that the Secretary of      State's Office assesses to businesses each year. I believe that small      businesses which don't make a profit shouldn't have to pay that yearly      registration fee. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy in      Kentucky and we need to find ways to improve that spirit of      entrepreneurship.


3.  What are your goals if elected? 

Advocate for the automatic restoration of voting rights of former felons who have served their time. Modernize the election registration process and the act of voting. Advocate for extended and earlier voting. Advocate for the reduction of the yearly Secretary of State business filing fee for small businesses that don't make a profit.


4.  How do you plan on addressing income inequality in Kentucky?

As  Secretary of State, it does not fall within the scope of the office to      create legislation that addresses income inequality. However, I can      promote businesses which promote higher minimum wages and those which address the gender pay gap. I can also work with legislators, sharing      information of business registrations and public salary information in      order to advocate for a higher standard of living for everyone in the      Commonwealth.

Geoff Sebesta

1.  What sets you apart from the other candidates? 

 I definitely seem to be the one having the most fun. However, I think all four of the Democratic candidates are good, and I still have high hopes that the Libertarians will produce a SoS candidate for the general election. The Republican candidates all seem like nice people, and they're very sincere, but all their proposals to end with fewer people voting.  We want more people to be able to vote.

I am also the only candidate who is willing to admit the other candidates exist.  Why are politicians like that?  There's this superstitious belief that if we don't say the names of the other candidates, those candidates will somehow cease to exist.  I think that's silly.  We're all going to be on the same ballot.  I know the other candidates, like them tremendously, and greatly look forward to working with all of them (with two exceptions, both on the Republican side) after the election is over.  They all have their strengths!  Jason Belcher has, by far, the best grasp of the IT and security issues.  Jason Griffith, in addition to being a truly fearsome grassroots organizer, has perhaps the clearest vision of all of us of the political realities of the office.  I'm also moved by his wonderful relationship with his son; that speaks volumes to me about his character.   Heather French Henry, in addition to being far and away the best known of all of us (and this is a massive advantage in a race that, to be blunt, the Democrats really need to win in November), has a sincere devotion to public service that can't be denied and that shows in literally every aspect of her life.  

That's why I'm going to hire them all. 


2.    How are you going to bring Kentucky into the future?

Daily!  :)

The office of the Secretary of State, despite recent controversies, is a fully functioning and professional office.  The problems in the news right now are not the problems of a failing office; everybody still gets to vote, everybody still gets to register their corporations, we can still track our own legislation.  

So I do not walk into the office with a intention to "modernize," though I believe that will happen naturally.  Although I love the idea of advancing our voting systems (and I certainly intend to start a state-wide conversation about voting system reform), simply securing the grants to pay for the county clerk's offices to modernize their voting machines will be enough at first.  Recruiting a new generation of poll workers will be enough.  Holding free clinics on incorporation practices and the Kentucky Constitution at various high schools and continuing education centers will be enough...and really, is there anything that brings "Kentucky" into the future more profoundly than teaching our Kentucky Constitution to schoolchildren?  What is Kentucky if it is not our Constitution?

Finally, my transparency provisions (which I will outline in the next question) will probably turn out to be far more important than we think they will be.  That's definitely going to bring us into the future in one way or another, though no one could predict how right now.  That's the thing about information; you don't know what you're going to do until you get it.  My term in office will result in the generation of a whole lot of information.  We don't know what we're going to do with it yet.  We will know our government, and ourselves, better than ever before.  Who knows what will happen with information like that?  Maybe there's some big problem that we haven't discovered yet.  Or, maybe, we'll take this long hard look at ourselves, and we'll decide that maybe things aren't so bad after all, and that deep down we all really like each other.  Who knows.  Whatever happens, we will all be doing it together.


 3.  What are your goals if elected?

I'm already accomplishing a surprising number of my goals in during the race!  For example, I wanted people to talk about returning the right to vote to felons -- it turns out that running for Secretary of State and mentioning it first in literally every speech is a good way to get more people to talk about it!  I feel like we're really talking about it now!

So, stuff like that, I'm gonna keep doing that.

When I'm elected, the first thing I'm gonna do is open an internet mirror of my official email account, and I'm going to ask my staff to scan every memo and every bit of mail the office gets and put it all online, immediately.  I will maintain complete real-time transparency for my term of office, at all times.  I will release literally every bit of information that passes through the office and provide weekly video updates and summaries for the convenience of all.  I will refuse all privileged correspondence.  I will refuse all secret correspondence.  The government belongs to the people, and this means that the government and the people have to start being honest with each other.  No more secrets.  

And then I'm gonna go talk to the governor about doing the same thing for his office.  Here's what the Kentucky Constitution says about that:

"The Secretary of State shall keep a fair register of and attest all the official acts of the Governor, and shall, when required, lay the same and all papers, minutes and vouchers relative thereto before either House of the General Assembly. "

--Kentucky Constitution, Section 91.

"All official acts" means all the acts in the office!  "Fair register" means you can read it!  Kentucky Constitution says you get to read it because I get to publish it, and that's what I'm gonna do.  If I have a governor who cooperates, we'll have the most transparent state government in US history, and that's no exaggeration.  If I'm working with an unethical governor who refuses to cooperate, then I'm going to fight them.  Every day, every step of the way.  I will be the best friend the Open Records Act ever had.  

The Kentucky government will finally be known by its proprietors, the citizens of the Commonwealth; us.  

After we get the ball rolling on that (first day!) I'm gonna take a tour around the state and meet with as many county clerks as I possibly can.  It's 120 counties, so that will probably take a while, but I'd like to get that done within my first year.  

I do not intend to interfere with their offices or seek to gain power over them.  I'm not gaining power over anybody.  I'm a secretary.  I'm going to find out what they have to say and to write it down.  That's what secretaries do.  I will rebuild the relationship with the State Board of Elections, simply by respecting them, talking to them, facilitating for them and not trying to gain power over them.  I will treat my position with humility and decorum.  I see this as a job for a citizen-elected reporter and secretary, and the secretary is never supposed to be the most important person in any meeting.  

I'll run the office of Secretary of State, and I'll run it well.  But it's not really about me.


4.  How do you plan on addressing income inequality in Kentucky?

That's really not in the Secretary of State's wheelhouse in any way, but there are three specific things I can do.

1.  Returning the right to vote to felons, especially when so many of them lost their right to vote because of economic crimes and War on Drugs fallout, returns power to the poor in a profound way.  More importantly, it returns a feeling of civic engagement to a segment of the population that feels abandoned and left behind.  A vote is more than a decision.  It's a way of making people feel involved, of making them feel important, of letting them know that their opinion matters to the rest of us.  It lets them know that, even if they didn't get what they want, somebody heard them.  Finally, a vote lets everyone know that if they're smart, and wise, and patient, they can get what they want; their turn will come.  That's so important.  It's so important to let people feel that way about their own government.

2.  I will run clinics and actively help people to file incorporations and 501c(3) paperwork.  This will let poor people participate in modern business.  It's impossible to be part of almost any of the modern forms of capital acquisition without incorporating in some way or another.  Practically speaking; you can't start a business, you can't get a grant, you can't even invest in real estate without at least an LLC, because if you don't have one, nobody will even talk to you and one mistake can cost you everything.  Making it easier for people to incorporate will do a lot to help poor people come up in the world.

3.  If funding can be found (and I am very much against expanding the budget of the Secretary of State's office for any reason other than dire necessity), I'd like to have a paid professional representative of the Secretary of State's office in each county to act as a citizen reporter and facilitator of difficult paperwork.  Don't get me wrong, this is a lot of money we're talking about -- I'm essentially talking about hiring 120 more librarians statewide, and I'd give them their own offices if I could; I'd rent a small storefront in downtown of the county seat of every county.  But this money goes directly to small-town Kentuckians and downtowns, so it makes a good investment.

Finally, as I've mentioned on many occasions, I am categorically against the humiliation of the poor, and I will show respect, at every opportunity, to all Kentuckians.  To me, allowing somebody to vote is one of the deepest forms of respect possible. 


Candidate Questionnaire - Secretary of State continued

Jason Belcher

1.  What sets you apart from the other candidates? 

  I am the only candidate for Secretary of State in the Democratic Primary who served in the military.   I served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force as a commissioned officer for nine and a half years, and I gained from that service command leadership experience that I will bring to the office of Secretary of State.    I will also bring a wealth of crisis management experience gained in both the military and the private sector.  After the Air Force I worked as a business process consultant for Target Corporation's Global Crisis Management division, protecting people and assets from security threats worldwide and leading crisis responses to natural disasters, political unrest, and other disruptions to supply chain.  The 2020 Presidential Elections will be the most contentious in American history, and Kentucky needs a chief election official who is battle tested with the proven ability to make good decisions under pressure.  I am the only candidate for Secretary of State who has that experience. 


2. How are you going to bring Kentucky into the future?

During the campaign I have consistently championed moving Kentucky towards electronic voting, which is a capability half a dozen other states are already developing.   By leading a public private partnership to establish Kentucky as a leader in electronic voting, I will help bring Kentucky into the future.  In addition, I would lead a Government Streamlining Commission dedicated to cutting the red tape and making it easier for new businesses to get started in Kentucky.  The GSC would gather input from small businesses and use their feedback to find ways to improve the tax code, licensing regulations, and networking and training to improve Kentucky's business climate.


3. What are your goals if elected?

To double voter turnout in local, statewide and national elections from an average of 30% to 60%,  to cut red tape for new and existing businesses, to develop an electronic voting capability for the state, to work with the legislature to enact automatic voter registration, early voting, and the restoration of voting rights to non-violent felons who have completed their sentences.   To improve the working relationships between the Secretary of States office and the State Board of Elections and County Election officials. 

 

4. How do you plan on addressing income inequality in Kentucky?

By advocating a raise to the minimum wage statewide, and by preparing Kentucky for the coming shifts to the workforce that will result from increasing automation.  Kentucky is vulnerable to lost jobs due to automation, and without proper preparation those losses will worsen income inequality in the state.  

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Candidate Questionnaire - Treasurer

Michael Bowman

1.  What sets you apart from the other candidates? 

 My experience. I worked within local government in Louisville for nearly 8 years, as a Legislative Assistant to the Louisville Metro Council, where my principle responsibilities included managing a office that supported thousands of constituents, research, policy, and oversight of the executive branch, and development of a nearly $1 billion annual budget. After my time at the Council, I became a Bank Officer and Branch Manager for one of the largest banks in the country where I manage a multi-million dollar portfolio of deposit and investment accounts. Also, I have been involved in my community for decades by being engaged in the civic process and volunteering my time for community events. All of those experiences will allow me to not only serve on day one, but be effective. 


2.  How are you going to bring Kentucky into the future?

  Modernize and update the Treasury to be more proactive in the community and truly bring the services to the people. I don't intend to be a Treasurer that sits in an office in Frankfort, I plan to be engaged in each and every community across the Commonwealth and bring ideas back to the Capital directly from the people. Additionally, ensuring that we are being a strong advocate for the people of Kentucky by using the platform of the office to support economic policies that will benefit every Kentuckian from Pikeville to Paducah. 


3.  What are your goals if elected? 

 First, bring back accountability, transparency, and trust to the executive branch of state government. The Treasurer has always been intended to be the stop-gap between your tax dollars and a potentially reckless Governor who can protect your tax dollars from abuse. Second, create a partnership between that other constitutional offices to bring back the checks and balances needed for government to work effectively. Third, develop a plan that drives the programs of the Treasury into our local communities, being proactive in educating Kentuckians on the services the office provides and how they can access them.  


4.  How do you plan on addressing income inequality in Kentucky?

 The Treasurer cannot legislate, but I can certainly- and will- advocate for strong economic and fiscal policies that can move Kentucky's economy in a direction that can serve everyone whether your from the coal-fields of Pike County or the west end of Louisville. For example, the expansion of revenue bases that do not raise taxes should be investigated, such as medical/recreational marijuana and expanded gambling, which could open new revenue streams to address education and other critical funding issues that would support expanding our economy and the income inequality perpetuated by the current system. 

Josh Mers

  1. What sets you apart from the other candidates? 

My experience and background have better prepared me to take on the minimum job duties of the State Treasurer and expand the office to match the Constitutional authority of the office.  Professionally, my experience doesn’t come from a corporate handbook, it has been learned from being in small business.  My insurance and financial services agency, while small, has given me the opportunity to manage every aspect of the day to day and long range success as well as working with the financial security of everyday, hard-working Kentuckians.  Adding to this financial background, having served as the Treasurer for one of Lexington’s government agencies, I have first hand experience being a responsible steward of the taxpayer dollar.  Couple this with nearly two decades of advocacy work serving for 5 years as the Chair of Lexington Fairness, on the Fayette County Democratic Executive Committee, President of the Fayette Young Dems and University of Kentucky College Democrats, and serving on several boards and commissions, I have proven my ability to advocate for folks often left behind or willfully ignored.


2. How are you going to bring Kentucky into the future? 

By working in partnership with the new Governor, I will position the role of State Treasurer as the Chief Economic Ambassador of the Commonwealth, helping to set an economic agenda that moves Ky forward and invests the power of our people.  This will include investigation into the $13 Billion that we give away each year in tax expenditures, advocating for fair and equitable tax reform, and generating new sources of revenue.  I fundamentally believe that Kentucky can fully fund our public education system, rebuild our infrastructure, invest in an economy of the future, and can do all of this without bankrupting the Commonwealth.


3. What are your goals if elected? 

My goals are to be that trusted partner to the new Governor and be a loud advocate for the people of Kentucky.  Within the office, we will start on day one improving the understanding and value of the Treasury by taking unclaimed property and financial literacy initiatives out across the state.  The more that the people of Kentucky become familiar with the work of the Treasury, the more successful I can be in advocating on their behalf.  The Treasury is also in dire need of improvements in technology and fraud prevention.  Areas that will serve to protect the taxpayer and make the Treasury more user-friendly.


4. How do you plan on addressing income inequality in Kentucky? 

In that advocacy role, I will work to encourage investment in economic and educational development in areas being left behind as well as join the fight to improve wages in Kentucky (raising the minimum wage, eliminating Right to Work, and stopping payroll tax wage theft).  Whether it’s the West End of Louisville or coal country in Eastern Kentucky, whole communities of our neighbors are being ignored when it comes to conversations about new business development, infrastructure planning, and modernization.  These areas need a strong voice that will proactively work to address discrepancy in areas such income inequality, food insecurity, housing affordability, and healthcare related life expectancy.

Candidate Questionnaire - Auditor

Chris Tobe

1. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

Experience & Qualifications.   I worked for former Kentucky State Auditor Ed Hatchett on his executive staff overseeing all areas of the office for 2 ½ years and have over 25 years of financial experience.  In the late 90’s I wrote reports on pensions, university foundations, state cash investments for the Auditors office.  

I'll be the first Auditor with master’s degrees in both Accounting & Finance (from Indiana U. Bloomington) ... the most experienced Auditor in Kentucky's history.  

As a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), I've dedicated my professional career to advising large states across the country on their pension investments & best practices.  I was hired by the Utah Legislative Auditor and the Maryland Retirements System internal auditor to review complex investments in pensions. I have taught finance & accounting classes at U. of Louisville, Bellarmine, & Webster.

As a 4-year public pension trustee for KRS, I completed the Program for Advanced Trustee Studies at Harvard Law School and Fiduciary College held at the Stanford University

There is no one better prepared to be your next Auditor of Kentucky.  That's all I want to do.  I have absolutely no future political ambitions. Zero. None.


2. How are you going to bring Kentucky into the future?

I want to Change the culture of Cover Up and Corruption in Frankfort 

to protect your tax dollars and expose wrongdoing... rooting out corruption & holding those responsible accountable.  The Auditor shouldn't be another politician or a political wannabe. 

“A Pension is a Promise” That is what I screamed at the capitol steps

When Governor Bevin & his supporters tried to illegally slash teachers' pensions & those of our police officers and other public employees, I opposed them.    You can see and hear me screaming on the PBS Frontline Special. “A Pension is a Promise” Taxpayers deserve a clean pension without corruption   Gov. Bevin wants to take pensions from teachers and public employees and enrich his hedge fund cronies who now steal over $400 million a year.  I will stop the Wall Street theft,

 I won't quit until every pension fund is transparent and the billions of dollars invested by Kentucky's taxpayers & public employees are being managed properly and professionally.

We need a professional auditor who will hold corrupt bureaucrats & career politicians accountable - without fear or favor. My vision is to restore integrity, transparency & accountability to every level of state government.


3. What are your goals if elected?

Political Corruption

I have been fighting corruption in Kentucky for the past 20+ years helping Jim Wayne write most of the pension corruption legislation.

Kentucky has been ranked #1 in State Government Corruption by both Harvard & Illinois studies.  My number #1 goal is to stop corruption in Frankfort and my #1 target is our troubled and corrupt Pension System. Other targets are Department of Fish & Wildlife, Yum Center and the Governor's corrupt practices with Brady Industries.

As the Kentucky Retirement System Board member who discovered & publicly exposed the graft & corruption in our pension system, I know where the proverbial bodies are buried.  I even wrote a book about it called Kentucky Fried Pensions. I became a SEC whistleblower as KRS board member.  I had the FBI watching Tim Longmeyer for pension corruption when they caught him for health care corruption, and he is currently in federal prison

I helped write with Jim Wayne pension corruption legislation in 2018 making it Class D felony to invest in illegal hedge funds and private equity funds which was refiled as HB 126 in KYGA19

Transparency

I have been the main proponent in KY for past 20 years of transparency in pensions, but also university foundations & others.   

In June 2018 I started the KY chapter of Represent US a national transparency group.

I have been a global leader in Transparency and serve on the London based Transparency Taskforce and published 3 articles in “Transparency Times”

I have published 4 books and dozens of articles on transparency in investments including. Kentucky Fried Pensions which was cited by Pulitzer winner Gretchen Morgenson of the NY Times and Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone.  I have been quoted and work regularly on public pension corruption stories with Neil Weinberg of Bloomberg, David Sirota of YoungTurks & the Guardian, Travis Waldren of the Huffington Post, and Pulitzer winner Gary Rivlin formerly of NY Times now with the Intercept.   In KY I been quoted and worked on dozens of articles on pension transparency by John Cheves HL, Joe Sonka Insider Louiville, Jim McNair KCIR.   I appeared in PBS Frontline piece on KY pensions discussing transparency.

It will take the most qualified Auditor in KY history to clean up and bring transparency to the most corrupt state government in America!


4. How do you plan on addressing income inequality in Kentucky?

First I will reduce the $400 million a year paid out of our pensions to Wall Street billionaires in secret no-bid contracts.   Second, I will comb state government for excessive salaries like our Technology Czar, and excessive contracts to cronies and bring them to light.    I will work to provide timely effective audits that will allow state and primarily federal funds to flow to lower income Kentuckians. 

Kelsey Hayes Coots

 1. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I am the only candidate in the race that has a complete vision for the Auditor's office.  While auditing the pensions is critical, we must also do more to democratize the office. We should increase awareness of the safehouse program- where folks can anoymously report waste, fraud and abuse - and make the website and audit reports more understandable to everyday Kentuckians.  For more go to www.kelseyforkentucky.com to view my detailed platform and give me your feedback! 


2. How are you going to bring Kentucky into the future?

We can’t achieve a Kentucky that works for all without having a transparent and accountable government. Everyday Kentuckians need to have trust and faith in government and I’ll bring that to the office with my complete vision of what the Auditor’s Office can be. Our future is bright but we have to create more trust between people and their government.


3. What are your goals if elected?

As mentioned, I’ll increase awareness of the safehouse program and democratize the office by making the website - and the reports on it- more accessible and able to be understood by all Kentuckians.  I’ll fight to create more transparency in government and hold accountable those who misuse our tax dollars. In a revenue strapped state, we can’t afford even a single dollar to be lost to waste, fraud, inefficiency or abuse. I invite anyone to visit KelseyforKentucky.com to view my detailed platform.

 

4. How do you plan on addressing income inequality in Kentucky?

I’m a card carrying labor member and helped lead direct action with #120Strong.  The labor movement can increase wages and benefits for middle and working class Kentuckians and I’ll fully support those efforts.  I’ll also use the platform of my office to push back against regressive tax policy and find new ways to invest in everyday Kentuckians, while helping to protect public education and Medicaid expansion.  

Candidate Questionnaire - Commissioner for Agriculture

Robert Conway

  1. What sets you apart from the other candidates?

I believe that my business expertise, coupled with my background in farming are the two areas that separate me from the other candidates. We often forget how important the Department of Agriculture is to this state and that it is a business, first and foremost, with over two hundred employees and a 50 million dollar budget that must be managed. I have been a Regional Director at General Electric. I have handled budgets in access of 65 million dollars and I have been responsible for managing 2,000 employees. My Democratic challenger has never been in charge of an operation that large. I have more experience farming than the incumbent, a lawyer who has never had a client.

 

2. How are you going to bring Kentucky into the future?

I, like all of the other candidates, is a staunch advocate for hemp and all of the possibilities that it could bring the struggling farmers in Kentucky. Unlike my opponents, however, I wouldn't simply stop with hemp. I am a proponent of the cultivation and sale of medicinal marijuana across the state. It would be lucrative for Kentucky's family farmers and it would ease the suffering of thousands of citizens suffering from debilitating illnesses like cancer. I also propose completely revitalizing our state's agricultural education programs and promoting farming to a new generation of Kentuckians. Its time that we look to green alternatives for our state as well, such as solar energy and hydroponic farming. 


3. What are your goals if elected?

My goals, if elected, are to incorporate many of the ideas that I have mentioned relating to the future into action. I also want to save the small family farms across this state. They are being developed at record rates because our farmers are unable to survive the current agricultural and economic climates. Our incumbent is a career politician, with greater political aspirations, and he has left many of the people that need him the most behind. I pledge to help save our farms and help our farmers. 


4. How do you plan on addressing income inequality in Kentucky?

Income inequality in the agricultural sector is one of the reasons that we are losing so many farmers to other industries. I will promote things beyond tobacco and soy beans that will have a positive impact on the state's economy. I will make farming more appealing as a vocational opportunity for our youth.