56th House candidates clash over experience and criminal justice issues in final debate

06/19/2013 12:09 PM

MIDWAY – The three candidates for the 56th District House special election clashed over criminal justice issues, expanded gambling and their respective experience at their final forum on Tuesday night at Midway College.

The three candidates, Republican Lyen Crews, Democrat James Kay and independent John-Mark Hack are looking to fill the vacancy created when Carl Rollins, D-Midway, left the House to when he became director of the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority in April.

The debate, sponsored by the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce and the citizens group, Woodford Tomorrow, was the last chance for voters from Woodford County, western Lexington and eastern Franklin County to hear the candidates mix it up before Tuesday’s special election.

Early on, Crews questioned the 30 year-old Kay’s experience — a theme that Republican groups have raised in television ads. Here’s that exchange:

Another topic was how the candidates would work across party lines to get things accomplished in the state legislature.

Kay says that his law background and youth puts him in a good position to do just that.

The candidates were in agreement that lawmakers should get no pay for any special session which cost taxpayers $65,000 a day.

However, they disagreed on several other issues, such as the death penalty.

They also offered different positions on another criminal justice issue — the right of non-violent convicted felons to be allowed to vote after they have served their sentences.

And just like the candidates’ first forum on May 21 at the Woodford County farm bureau, the trio clashed over expanded gambling.

After the debate, Crews told Pure Politics, “I hope the voters and constituents that were here understand the difference and qualifications of the candidates.” Crews added, ““I have vast experience from business to health care to education. I’m a CPA, I would be the only CPA in the legislature.”

Hack said, “The two-party system is broken. State government is failing. We’ve got to do what we can to catalyze a new way of thinking and a different way of doing business.”

Kay declined to be interviewed after the debate saying that he wanted to talk to his family instead.


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