FRANKFORT, Ky. -- WCPO's Northern Kentucky reporter Jessica Noll asks Democrat, US Senate contender and Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes, what issues Kentucky faces now and how she plans on fixing them from Washington.
Q: WHAT ISSUES ARE IMPORTANT TO KY? WHAT DO YOU WANT TO CHANGE?
A: Washington is not working for Kentucky. It’s time to put politics aside, and do what’s right for Kentucky.
Unemployment, under-employment and economic hardship have plagued the state of Kentucky for far too long. This is unacceptable. Mitch McConnell has had nearly 30 years to help get Kentuckians back to work and has failed to offer a jobs plan.
Kentucky families deserve better: good jobs and a good quality of life. I am the first in this race to roll out a comprehensive jobs plan for the Commonwealth. Unlike Mitch McConnell’s failed record, my plan for Kentucky will help increase family incomes and encourage businesses to grow and create new jobs, and prepare and train Kentuckians for the rapidly changing global marketplace.
There is not one silver bullet that will address all of Kentucky’s economic needs. It will take a multi-pronged approach: doing the right things with proper investment for a sufficient amount of time.
I believe we can grow our economy by: taking full advantage of the natural resources and people we have; expanding science, math, and computer education; investing in our infrastructure; and diversifying our economy to attract more businesses.
Our campaign is about helping real people. Good people, hardworking Kentuckians who deserve a senator who is fighting to protect the middle class.
Q: HOW CAN KENTUCKY MOVE FORWARD AND EXCEL?
A: If we ask ourselves the question, ‘Is Kentucky on a path toward a prosperous economic future,’ the answer is a resounding ‘No.’ For nearly three decades, Senator McConnell has been given every opportunity to change this. Time and time again he chose to stand with Washington; time and time again he chose not to fight for the people of Kentucky.
Earlier this month, I unveiled my vision to get the Commonwealth working again. And at that very same moment, Mitch McConnell voted against a bipartisan measure that will have significant impact here in Kentucky – from job training initiatives, to grants that promote local business opportunities, to investments in infrastructure and early childhood education. Those things are important to Kentucky’s middle class families.
My forward-looking plan for Kentucky will help increase family incomes, encourage business growth, and create new jobs. It will prepare and train Kentuckians for the economy of the future. Delivering these commonsense solutions will require a new brand of leadership that cares less about Washington’s silly games and more about giving hard-working Kentuckians a fair opportunity to put food on their tables.
Q: WHY ARE YOU RUNNING?
A: I have been working to improve the lives of my fellow Kentuckians all my life, from defending small businesses and fighting for victims of domestic violence, to working to provide sufficient food to struggling families and ensuring that Kentucky veterans have real access to their right to vote.
As the Commonwealth’s next U.S. Senator, I will continue to reach across the aisle and will not forget who I represent – the people of Kentucky. My number one priority will be putting Kentuckians back to work in good-paying jobs. After 30 years of failed leadership from Mitch McConnell, it’s time we have someone who unites all Kentuckians regardless of party and helps to put Kentucky – not Washington – first.
Q: WHAT’S YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE COMMONWEALTH?
A: I am a Kentuckian through and through, and when I travel to Northern Kentucky, I’m not just visiting. I am coming home. I was born in Maysville – where my parents grew up, got married and my grandmother still lives today.
While working in the private sector, I fought for victims of domestic violence because my passion has always been increasing opportunity for every citizen of the Commonwealth.
As a successful business attorney in Lexington, I helped businesses open, expand and thrive in Kentucky, allowing them to create jobs and foster economic growth. I also worked with Kentucky institutions such as the Salvation Army, Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital and God’s Pantry Food Bank.
As Kentucky’s Secretary of State, we have helped modernize and streamline government services to make sure Kentucky’s doors truly are open for small businesses. I work with industry leaders to promote Kentucky and embrace bipartisan cooperation to help expand our economy and create jobs. Our efforts, including establishing a one-stop business portal and a uniform business identification number, are helping businesses spend less time interacting with government and more time creating jobs and giving back to their communities.
We have also ushered in new laws that protect the voting rights of victims of domestic violence and absentee voters, maintain the integrity
of the democratic process and save counties money in administering elections.
When I am elected to serve in the U.S. Senate, Kentuckians will know that they have a senator who is fighting for them.
Q: WHY SHOULD PEOPLE VOTE FOR YOU?
A: Just as I have my entire life, I will fight for all Kentuckians as the Commonwealth’s first female Senator. This campaign is about lifting up the Commonwealth and helping real people: good people, hardworking Kentuckians who deserve a senator who will fight for them.
It is clear that Washington is not working for Kentucky. It’s time to put politics aside, and do what’s right for Kentucky. In the U.S. Senate, I will always work across the aisle to prioritize people over partisanship.
Q: WHAT IS ONE INTERESTING THING THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
A: As the third of five sisters, I had to fight to make my voice heard early. That’s why I entered public service: to give a voice to the voiceless. Throughout my life, I have been a strong advocate for Kentucky families and will continue to be as Kentucky’s next U.S. Senator. Growing up in Central Kentucky, I learned the value of public service at an early age by volunteering with my family every year to serve Thanksgiving dinners to the homeless.
Q: HOW DO YOU PLAN ON TACKLING THESE ISSUES FOR NORTHERN KENTUCKY AND THE STATE:
My heart goes out to the many families across Kentucky struggling with drug abuse. There is no question that this an epidemic in the Commonwealth, and what we need to ensure is a path forward for all Kentuckians. That starts with a good-paying job and a good quality of life.
As Kentucky’s next U.S. Senator, my top priority will be putting Kentuckians back to work and fighting to help the Commonwealth successfully compete in the global marketplace. We can grow our economy by: taking full advantage of the natural resources and people we have; expanding science, math, and computer education; investing in our infrastructure; and diversifying our economy to attract more businesses.
When Kentucky businesses thrive, they can create more jobs and opportunity for all Kentuckians. That is why as Secretary of State, I have worked with both parties to cut red tape and make it easier for Kentucky businesses to create more jobs, and I will continue this work on the federal level.
In the U.S. Senate, I will encourage entrepreneurship and innovation in Kentucky, including a well-funded federal emphasis on entrepreneurial training in Kentucky’s public colleges and high schools.
I am committed to leveling the playing field with China to create a balanced economic relationship – one that gives Kentucky businesses a fair chance to compete. The trade deficit has caused loss of nearly 36,000 Kentucky jobs over recent years. Mitch McConnell does not think that the growing trade deficit with China is a problem. I could not disagree more.
I will also work to reverse decline in Kentucky manufacturing jobs by fighting to expand access to capital for companies to invest in research and development, new machinery, and advanced technology. Furthermore, we should expand tax credits for businesses relocating to U.S. and end tax breaks for businesses that ship good Kentucky jobs overseas.
My vision for Kentucky is one in which our children are positioned to succeed. Education is the passport out of poverty, and I firmly believe that every Kentuckian has the right to a quality education.
A good education should not be a luxury and is an economic necessity for every Kentuckian. Education is the gateway to good-paying jobs, economic growth and a strong middle class. It is critical that we work together – with families, educators and schools – to prepare our children for success. We face real problems here in Kentucky when it comes to education:
• 33,168 of our 4th graders are still not proficient in Reading
• 34,016 of our 8th graders are still not proficient in Math
• Kentucky ranks 44th in college completion at just 24.8 percent
I believe that this is a challenge and responsibility for each of us. As Kentucky’s next U.S. Senator, I will lead on this issue to ensure our children have access to quality education and are equipped with the tools and resources necessary to succeed.
Our institutions of higher learning, especially Northern Kentucky University, also contribute to this region’s economic vitality. When I am your next Senator, NKU and other public campuses will have no greater champion in promoting university-level research, workforce training and economic analysis that are of such critical importance to business.
Mitch McConnell negotiated a Washington budget deal that caused 1,100 Kentucky children to lose access to early childhood education and cut an estimated $31.8 million from Kentucky schools. He also opposed legislation to hire and preserve jobs for teachers and blocked legislation to preserve low interest rates for students.
BRENT SPENCE BRIDGE:
In Northern Kentucky, there is tremendous
potential for growth of our business and industrial economy. At the top of the list must be the approximately $3.5 billion Brent Spence Bridge project. The need is obvious.
The economic impact of delay is equally obvious. This is an interstate highway – a vital national transportation link. It is shameful that Washington politicians have become so paralyzed by partisan rancor that they cannot or will not do their job and finance important infrastructure projects like this one of major national importance.
Instead, an unjustifiable burden – in the form of tolls – is proposed to be placed on the people and economy of Northern Kentucky to pick up the tab. As your next U.S. Senator, I will reach out to responsible members of both parties to return to sensible, bipartisan solutions that observe the need to restrain spending, but also allocate money for Kentucky's and the nation's most urgent needs. And I will be a tireless fighter to try to find sufficient federal backing to avoid tolls on the vital Brent Spence Bridge project.
For more stories by Jessica Noll, go to www.wcpo.com/noll . Follow her on Twitter @JessicaWCPO.