Sen. Gerald Neal absent from final 33rd District Senatorial debate

05/11/2016 01:11 PM

LOUISVILLE – The Black United Press Political Candidates Forum took place Tuesday night in West Louisville with longtime incumbent Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, absent.

The two other Democratic candidates, former legislative and political aide Charles Booker, and retired Jefferson County District Judge Toni Stringer, along with Republican John Yuen were at the event which was attended by close to 100 voters.

Republican Shenita Rickman did not attend because of a family emergency.

Booker, who worked for Neal as an aide in Frankfort and a campaign consultant, was disappointed that his mentor was not in attendance.

“I’m very disappointed, I was looking forward to the opportunity of being able to lay out the facts, have an honest dialogue for the community,” Booker said. “It’s a disservice to the community that we didn’t fully get to express our vision for the future.”

Stringer, who was first appointed as a Jefferson District Court judge in 2000, and served as a senior judge in Jefferson County until 2014, also criticized Neal for not attending the debate saying that those in attendance needed to hear from all of the candidates.

“That just kind of says something about how he feels about the people that he’s supposed to represent,” Stringer said.

The former judge supports government investment in the West Louisville community to help jump start the area economically, which, in turn, she says would combat the areas growing crime rate. Stringer also says that she would go to Frankfort and stand up for the community that she represents.

“If people tell me you can’t do this, you can’t do that, like I said, I got a big mouth, and I didn’t get as far as I have gotten in my legal career by saying, OK, we can’t do that,” Stringer said. “I will ask you why not, and I will say don’t make me show you, yes, we can.”

Booker, a strategist with the West Louisville FoodPort, feels that finding ways to incentivize development through job training will be the key to economic development in the district.

“We’re looking at ways now to not only train workforce, but to put them on career tracks,” Booker said. “Not only create jobs, but create opportunities for marketplace where we can have co-ops, where we can have our own.”

John Yuen says that the key to long term economic development in the area is to invest in, and attract local businesses run by people from the community, rather than investing in one large corporate entity like Wal-Mart.

“We have to fund the mom and pop store,” Yuen said. “When that store makes money, another person says, I need to open another store. That’s how you open up all of these black businesses. If you’re going to open up a Wal-Mart, the major corporations will take the funds out of this community.”


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