Two political newcomers eye key open 23rd district House seat

10/26/2016 12:05 PM

GLASGOW – Two political newcomers are battling it out for the 23rd district House seat in a race which could have major implications for which party will have the majority when the Kentucky House reconvenes in 2017.

Democratic candidate Danny Basil, a Glasgow attorney, is looking to keep the seat blue while Republican Steve Riley, a retired Barren County teacher, school administrator, and high school basketball coach hopes to be a key figure in the GOP’s plan to flip the House to GOP control.

Democratic Rep. Johnny Bell of Glasgow currently holds the seat but decided not to seek re-election after serving five terms in office.

Basil, has some legislative experience having worked for former House Speaker Bill Kenton in 1980, before moving to Glasgow in 1981 where he opened a law practice.

Basil feels that he has a lot of beneficial experience and that the time was right to try for a return to Frankfort a little over three and a half decades later.

“I have the time, still have the energy, still have the urge, so here I am,” Basil said. “I’ve worked with Kentucky law for about 35 years on about every aspect of Kentucky law that there is.”

Riley, who is retired after a 31-year career in education, says that his experience as a coach and administrator gives him the background to be an effective legislator.

“Education and coaching are all about people,” Riley said. “It’s all about relationships and developing that type of feel for people. I’ve had a chance to work with individuals and groups for a long time as an educator and enjoyed doing that, and I think through those personal relationships and that experience, it’s prepared me to look into this opportunity and go after this.”

Both candidates agree that the biggest issue facing the district is a familiar theme for the states primarily rural areas, bring more jobs to area and provide workforce development to provide an educated workforce.

“We have the sixth highest poverty rate in the United States of America, the same people have been in charge for a lot of those years and it’s time for a change,” Riley said. “I think workforce development, training young people to be able to do skilled jobs is very important because the number one reason industry comes into a communities, or to a state, is if there are enough skilled workers to do the jobs that they need.”

“We have a lot of jobs here now that are going without applicants because we don’t have qualified people with the skills to do those jobs,” Basil said. “I’m talking about data input people, I’m talking about welders, electricians, people who can produce something and make good pay. Quite frankly, those jobs pay more than most college graduates right now.”

According to the State Board of Elections voter registration statistics, Barren County has 16,307 registered Democrats to 12,457 Republicans with approximately 2,000 voters either registered as “other” or independent.

However, voters in the area have been casting ballots for Republicans in recent statewide elections. Gov. Matt Bevin won Barren County in 2015 with 1,721 more votes than his Democratic opponent.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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