In light of the midterm election, on November 6th, next Tuesday, it’s time to take a close look at the candidates running to serve as state representative across the region. With this goal in mind, several of the candidates agreed to sit down with me and have candid conversations about their campaigns and platforms. Without further ado, we’ll start with Jesse Parks, district 60’s candidate to travel to Frankfort and serve the people of his district.
Like many of his fellow candidates, Jesse feels strongly about the future of public education in Kentucky. He believes it is imperative to protect and improve the educational system. In response to the recent and ongoing pension debate, Jesse expresses concern that it is, in part, a carefully formulated plan to desensitize voters to the perils of funding charter schools. This desensitization may result in a “money grab” to support private, charter schools, that discourages the best and brightest teachers from considering Kentucky for their careers and jeopardizes the quality of education for Kentucky’s children.
Jesse is also concerned about voting practices in Kentucky. He advocates vote by mail to encourage voters in rural districts and areas to exercise their right. Correctly so, Jesse cites the difficulties voting poses for the poor, elderly, and disabled when polling places are at a distance. He wants to address the challenges the current 6am to 6pm voting hours pose for working voters. While Kentucky law stipulates that employers are required to allow up to four hours for employees to vote, it is up to the employers’ discretion whether that time is paid. As a result, many potential voters do not make it to the polls because of financial concerns. Jesse’s solution is to extend voting hours to ensure that the possibility of financial loss doesn’t factor in a person’s decision to go to the polls.
The opioid/heroin crisis is a major concern for Kentucky and district 60. While the current system of incarceration, followed by continued marginalization, clearly doesn’t work, Jesse has a different plan to address the problem. In his professional life, Jesse continues to work hard to hire recovering addicts and drug-related felons in an effort to give them the opportunity and best chance at leaving the drug abuse cycle behind them permanently.
Rather than incarceration and lifetime of being forced to the outside of society, Jesse believes that part of the answer to the heroin crisis lies in providing better support for women and children affected. Safe, sober housing, access to education and training, and the means necessary to not return to their former lives is key to the success of freeing people from the epidemic.
The concepts of representation and leadership are crucially important to Jesse. He feels that in the 8 years his opponent has been unopposed, the voices of the people in district 60 are largely ignored. His opponent has failed to present new ideas to benefit the rapidly growing district. He has also failed to respond to his constituents’ questions and concerns. In contrast, throughout the campaign, Jesse has gone so far as to send out his personal cell phone number and encouraged both supporters and detractors to call him with their questions and concerns. It’s a strong indication he will continue to listen and react to his constituents’ concerns once in office.
My conversation with Jesse Parks covered a lot of ground. The people of district 60 are fortunate to have a candidate with devotion to their concerns and to the growth and support of the district, Boone County, and Kentucky. Vote Jesse Parks on November 6th for real leadership and representation.