University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
Kentucky witnessed history Tuesday night as three female candidates for lieutenant governor squared off in a debate at the William T. Young Library at the University of Kentucky.
|From left: Jenean Hampton, Heather Curtis and Sannie Overly|
(WUKY-FM photo by Josh James)
Democratic candidate Sannie Overly said she and running mate Jack Conway “have a record of bringing folks together from both sides of the aisle” to get things accomplished, as well as her experience in engineering and as a member of the state House.
Republican candidate Jenean Hampton talked about her experience living in an impoverished area of Detroit and working her way up to being a plant manager. “I rose from the ashes of the inner city and accomplished a lot,” she said.
Making her first appearance on a debate stage was independent candidate Heather Curtis, wife and running mate of Drew Curtis. She talked about her experience as a therapist and willingness to put scientific practical and well-researched solutions over partisan politics. “I like experts, I like people who know what they’re doing, I like science,” she said.
Many of the questions focused on issues facing Kentucky women and children, such as public education and the minimum wage, since two-thirds of Kentucky minimum wage workers are women and the event was sponsored in part by the UK Women’s Forum.
Hampton said inflating the minimum wage would be “a disaster waiting to happen,” and that she had to work her way up the ladder when she worked a low wage job. “The minimum wage was never meant to be a living wage,” she said.
Overly said she and Conway support raising the minimum wage on the state level to $10.10 an hour over a period of three years, and criticized Hampton’s running mate Matt Bevin for not wanting to give Kentucky workers a living wage.
Curtis posited potentially offering an exemption for small businesses, which she said tend to get hit the hardest by minimum-wage hikes.
Overly said she and Conway released a detailed education plan, and intend to create a “historic expansion of early learning opportunities” for Kentucky children, while criticizing Bevin for not supporting early childhood education.
Hampton said Head Start programs are not doing their jobs and many Kentuckians have substandard literacy. “I believe that is unacceptable, apparently my opponent does not,” said Hampton, who said Kentuckians must be better stewards of the dollar.
Curtis said the biggest problems with education are inequality and poverty. She promoted a concept called “scaffolding,” which she described as teaching children a step at a time, and that it would be “a great place to start.”
Addressing poverty in Kentucky, one of the poorest states, Hampton touted creating more economic opportunity. The single biggest thing we can do … is increase opportunity,” said Hampton, who proposed making Kentucky a right-to-work state and look into restructuring the state’s tax code.
Overly said the state should “invest in education,” as a way to combat poverty. “Our (Overly and Conway) education plan addresses education from top to bottom,” she said. Curtis said Kentucky politicians should look to experts and scholars such as the ones at UK for solutions on the state’s poverty dilemma.
The latest Bluegrass Poll, released Sept. 30, showed Conway with a slight lead over Bevin, 42 percent to 37 percent. Seven percent said they would vote for Drew Curtis and 15 percent were undecided. The election is Tuesday, Nov. 3.