Senate Candidates Talk Jobs, The Economy, And Gay Rights At Young Voters Forum

Dec 5, 2013

Candidates competing in the Dec. 10 special election for the 13th State Senate District took part in a Young Voter’s Forum Thursday at UK.

Credit Josh James / WUKY

Speaking to a group of college students, the candidates stuck close to issues related to education, jobs, and the economy.

"We cannot bring jobs here if we don't have first class educational facilities for K-12 and in college, so if I stress education and help make that a world class institution then I can bring jobs here," Democrat Reggie Thomas argued.

The attorney and professor said his first act the day after being elected would be to contact UK president Eli Capilouto and start a strong partnership with Kentucky’s flagship school.

Independent Richard Moloney, meanwhile, stressed his record of bringing jobs to Lexington.

"I brought jobs here. When I was Chief Administrative Officer, I worked with the mayor when [he] wanted to bring jobs here. We had to go through some hoops, but we got them done. When I was a city council member, I voted for a lot of jobs to come to this town," he told the audience.

Finally, Republican Michael Johnson took a different tack, promoting programs that connect students with employers before graduation.

"You cannot depend on graduating and getting a government job, but if you have relationships you can expand your knowledge of the business [and] that can give you a chance to make a living," the minister known as "Big Mike" said.

In the race to replace one of Kentucky’s most outspoken liberals in the state Senate, Moloney and Thomas have highlighted many of the issues Kathy Stein championed during her time in office.

At the Thursday forum, Thomas stressed his commitment to women’s rights, the Affordable Care Act, and gay rights – including the repeal of House Bill 279, which allowed more leeway for residents to ignore state statutes for religious reasons.

Moloney spotlighted his support for Lexington's Fairness Ordinance and his efforts to increase minority hiring within the government. 

Their GOP challenger put his commitment to diversity in more personal terms, arguing against a “one size fits all” approach.

"When I went to Frankfort and started working in the legislature, they didn't see me as a Republican or a Democrat. They saw me as Big Mike, the one who's concerned about all people," Johnson said.

The three hopefuls are vying for the seat recently vacated by Kathy Stein, who left the senate for a judgeship in October.