Four Republican candidates battle for open Senate seat in southcentral Kentucky
05/04/2016 01:26 PM
SOMERSET – Approximately 75 registered voters were in attendance Tuesday night as the four Republican candidates for state Senator in the 15th Senatorial District, took part in a candidate’s forum at Somerset High School, co-hosted by the Rotary Club of Somerset and the Rotary Club of Somerset-Pulaski County.
The candidates are vying to succeed Sen. Chris Girdler, R-Somerset, who decided not to seek re-election after serving only one term in office.
The candidates include insurance agent Rick Girdler, the uncle of the current senator, insurance agent Don Moss, business financial specialist Michael Keck and optometrist Joshua Nichols.
The winner of the May 17 primary, will, in effect, take the seat since no Democrats have filed in the heavily Republican district.
The candidates discussed a number of key issues including whether the state should be open to offering the option of charter schools to Kentucky’s students.
Girdler sees the possible need for charter schools in larger urban areas like Louisville and Lexington, but doesn’t feel that they are necessary in his district which is comprised of Pulaski, Lincoln, or Boyle counties.
“I think our school systems are adequate, very good school systems here,” Girdler said.
Keck believes that the state does need to look at the need for charter schools in the commonwealth.
“I believe that we’re one of five states left in the whole country without that option,” Keck said. “Parents should have the choice.”
Another education topic concerned the so called “school calendar bill” in which schools would start no sooner than the Monday closest to August 26, so that the state could gain the benefits of extra tourism dollars in the month of August.
While the candidates liked the fact of the potential of extra dollars that could come about because of the later start date, Nichols feels that the calendar should be approved by the local school districts and not the state legislature.
“I would like to see the individual school districts determine what calendar for their area because they know what is best for their district and their students,” Nichols said.
Moss warned that changing the school calendar for tourism industries could potentially open a Pandora’s box for other businesses to petition for a school calendar which could potentially help their cause.
“Education should be the foremost influencer and contributor to that discussion and not any outside industry or influence,” Moss said.
All candidates agreed that removing burdensome business regulations is a must for Kentucky to be able to keep and attract new businesses to the commonwealth.
Keck would like to see the Legislative Research Commission conduct a review of any regulation that places a burden of $5 million or more on the state economy.
“A cost analysis should be done to see if that regulation or group of regulations is, in fact, hampering our economy,” Keck said.
One regulation that Girdler would like to see disappear is a certificate of need for businesses like hospitals.
“You know, I don’t choose my competitors, I don’t get to tell them they can’t come in and do business against me, and I think certificate of needs to either be lessened or done away with,” Girdler said. “If Central Baptist wants to put a hospital here, let them put a hospital here.”
Another area the candidates largely agreed on was the possibility of using public-private partnerships in running Kentucky’s state parks which are currently losing approximately $40 million a year.
Moss sees the possibility as a win for the state was well as the private company which enters into a contract to operate a park.
“Allowing a private business, that is a for-profit entity that is desiring to do things right, and to do things in a way that would draw people in so that they would make money, is going to be a win-win for all concerned,” Moss said.
Nichols said that Kentucky’s state parks of some of the finest in the nation, and bringing a private company in to run it successfully seems like a good idea.
“Allowing privatization to come in and help with promoting our state parks, I think would be a win-win, not only for the local communities, but for the state as a whole,” Nichols said.
Pure Politics will have a profile of the candidates running in the 15th District Senatorial race on Thursday’s edition of the show airing at 7pm Eastern.
Below the Fold
Education, pro-business, public pension and tax reform legislation await lawmakers when they return to Frankfort in February
Leading lobbyist Bob Babbage says that Democrats have work cut out in trying to recapture governor's office in 2019
Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.