Ag. Commish-elect Ryan Quarles announces lawmakers on transition team; looks ahead at term

11/13/2015 10:20 AM

With a nearly 200,000 vote win on Election Day Agriculture Commissioner-elect Ryan Quarles becomes the youngest statewide elected official in the United States, and he says he’s ready to hit the ground running.

Quarles, who served three terms in the state House of Representatives, says he will follow in the footsteps of outgoing Commissioner James Comer and Billy Ray Smith in how he runs the department.

The 32 year-old, Quarles says his generation demands a focus on transparent, efficient and accountable.

Coming into the office Quarles says he has tapped Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, and Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, to be among the early members of his transition team.

“They are as bipartisan as they come, they’re both leaders in agriculture and they are also key legislative leaders as well,” Quarles said. “There will be other names released as well, but they’ll be playing an active role in the transition.”

Quarles sat down with outgoing Commissioner James Comer this week, who is seeking election to Kentucky’s 1st Congressional District, and the two discussed the transition.

“Commissioner Comer and I met this week and we had a great meeting talking about issues facing the Department of Ag., and also issues I’ll get to inherit such as the hemp pilot project,” he said.

In the office, Quarles said he will focus on agriculture education, Kentucky Proud branding and promotion, as well as having a hand in shaping legislation for farmers in the General Assembly.

Constitutional officers will be sworn into office on Jan. 4, one day before the start of the 60-day budget session. To prepare to start work on day one, Quarles has already sat down with Gov.-elect Matt Bevin to discuss the Department of Agriculture.

“We’re going to see where the chips lie, obviously there are severe financial constraints facing Kentucky, but it will be a priority of mine to protect the operational budget,” he said. “It’s important that we have a Department of Agriculture that’s able to retain the talent that we already have.”

Here what else Quarles has planned for the office, and his thoughts on the upcoming election to fill his soon to be vacant House seat in Georgetown in the interview below.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.