Local Murray resident and businessman Hal Kemp, Democrat, announced he will be seeking election for Kentucky’s 5th District House seat in the Kentucky General Assembly.
Melvin Henley, who currently occupies the seat, announced on Dec. 19 2011 he is retiring.
Henley declined to comment for this report.
Henley’s career includes serving as the mayor of the City of Murray from 1978 to 1982, chemistry professor and chair of the chemistry department from 1987 to 1992 and four terms as Kentucky’s 5th District House representative.
Henley has been a part of several committees including economic development, energy and tourism, transportation and a subcommittee of appropriations and revenue for budget review of post-secondary education.
The first time Kemp ran for the position, Henley, who was running as a Republican, defeated him. Henley switched parties for the 2008 election and won as a Democrat.
Kemp said running against Henley was a learning experience that helps him in this election.
“I ran against Melvin before and lost,” Kemp said. “I have learned a lot since then and have made many connections in Frankfort.”
He said the position of House seat was originally designed to be a short-term career.
Kemp said Henley always believed in term limits and Kemp said his viewpoint was the same.
Kemp said he would always support the University. He said he sees it as the economic engine for the western Kentucky region.
“I’m going to continue to fight for funding for Murray State,” Kemp said. “I want to increase awareness of what Murray is worth to western Kentucky. I see it as the life-blood of our economy.”
Kemp said his main objectives are to fight for education and for economic development.
“We not only need to bring other businesses to the area, but we also need to look at the companies we already have and help them grow,” he said.
Kemp said that though he understood cuts were necessary, education should not be an affected area.
“Honestly, the Republicans are scaring me a bit,” he said. “They have been cutting funding to education across the country, which I will fight all the way against.”
Kemp is the only Democrat who has filed to run in the election.
If anyone else files, primaries will be held May 22.
Republican Kenny Imes is also running for the Kentucky 5th District House seat.
Imes previously served four terms as the 5th district state representative from 1972 to 1979. He also served as Commissioner of Natural Resources, Deputy Secretary of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet and policy adviser to the cabinet secretary and governor.
Imes said he wants to see increased funding for education and economic development in the 5th District region..
After repeated attempts, Imes could not be reached.
The 5th District is composed of Calloway County and three precincts in Trigg County.