With Election Day close, candidates representing both major parties are campaigning to sway voters on issues that hit close to home. In Kentucky, there are several seats within the state and local government, positions which directly impact Calloway County, the city of Murray and the University.
On Tuesday morning, the Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce held a candidate forum presenting candidates for the positions of state representative for the fifth district and for the state senate.
Republican Kenny Imes and Democrat Hal Kemp are both vying for the position of state representative. Republican Stan Humphries and Democrat Carrol Hubbard are running for a state senate position.
Lance Allison, president/CEO of the Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce, said the purpose of the forum was to give each of the candidates time to answer questions that had been prepared by the chamber and community.
“The questions I will ask will be geared toward business-related subjects,” he said. “The Chamber of Commerce will not endorse any candidates.”
Of the issues addressed, ranking top priority was local job growth, the value of local chambers of commerce and state pension issues.
Each candidate actively voiced the need for economic growth and job creation and applauded Gov. Steve Beshear’s work expediting the process that led to the Eggners Ferry Bridge repair.
On the topic of local chambers of commerce, Imes and Hubbard said they were both members of the Murray-Calloway County chamber and they applauded the work it has and will continue to complete. Humphries said the chambers were beneficial to their communities, and is a member of the Trigg County Chamber of Commerce. Kemp said he was not a member, but supports local chambers. He said the reason he would not join is because he does not support the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; he said it does not endorse small businesses.
Allison said the responses were interesting because the national chamber has very little association with the local chambers.
The candidates addressed state pensions more aggressively. Hubbard said the pension system in Kentucky was broken and needed to be fixed, Kemp agreed, and during his portion of time spent addressing the issue, said teacher pensions needed to be left alone and the legislators’ pensions were costing the Commonwealth too much.
Kemp, Hubbard and Humphries all agreed the pension system should move to a 401K system, an alternative pension maintained by the state. Imes said limiting the terms of those in the legislature could offset costs.
“It’s the overall pension that needs work,” Imes said. “We need reform throughout the state.”
Allison – at the conclusion of the forum – said the candidates elected will be replacing two very good legislators this year.
In their own words…
“We’re going to need experience and leadership,” he said. “We’re going to need someone who will work with each party … and who will prepare the workforce to be better and better.”
Imes said he was proud of the relationships he had built with the community and businesses of Murray and Calloway County.
“We have tough times ahead of us,” he said. “There’s a good chance the person elected will be a one term (official), because tough choices will have to be made in Frankfort.”
Kemp said he wants the position because he believes he can effectively fix what is broken.
“The position will be a challenge, but I’ll do it whole-heartedly,” he said. “I want to serve the people of western Kentucky and I agree that some tough decisions might cause a one term (official).”
“Calloway County is the most progressive county on this side of the state and our chamber is the most aggressive,” he said. “It would be my honor to represent the community and to prove that positive campaigning is still alive.”
Story by Chris Wilcox, News Editor.