GLASGOW — Stephanie Horne talked with several residents while campaigning in Glasgow on Wednesday, making stops at the Glasgow Fire Department and the Barren-Metcalfe Emergency Communications Center, among others listening to their concerns and asking for their votes.
Horne, a Democrat who hails from the Prospect community of Jefferson County, is seeking election to the lieutenant governor's position in the May primary. Her running mate is Elliott County resident Rocky Adkins, minority floor leader for the Kentucky House of Representatives.
Horne and Adkins share a passion for public education. Both have parents who were teachers and both have been involved in public education in some form or another over the years.
Horne has served on the Jefferson County Board of Education, while she says Adkins has been fighting for public education his entire career.
“Coming together to respect our teachers and trying to improve public education is something that is near and dear to my heart and also to Rocky's,” she said.
Horne is an attorney, who owns a title company. She is also the mother of two children, one of which works for the family business.
Her other child, her youngest, earned an associate's degree from Jefferson Community and Technical College and went on to study at the University of Kentucky on an academic scholarship. He is set to graduate on the dean's list.
She referred to community colleges as being “gems,” because they are routes high school students can take that will lead to careers.
“Rocky and I just believe so strongly in connecting the community college system to the high schools,” she said, adding that she and her running mate believe it is a connection that needs to be started early. “There's a two-year certificate you can get. There's work training you can get at these community colleges. We just love that connection and we are really going to support that.”
They also support a fully-funded pension system.
“Pension is a promise. (It's as) simple as that,” she said. “There is no Social Security for these educators. Pension is a promise. Rocky as a legislator has been a huge advocate for upholding that promise of a defined benefit plan.”
If elected, Horne said she and Adkins would go in an opposite direction than what Gov. Matt Bevin is taking to fund the pension system.
“The governor came in saying he was going to make a positive change, but in reality he's trying to privatize it. A 401K is not the answer for our pension. That was not how it was designed,” she said.
Horne and Adkins support the use of medicinal marijuana, which they believe could provide income to help fund pensions.
Horne and Adkins are cancer survivors. She is a 14-year breast cancer, while he has been cancer free for 24 years.
They also believe expanded gambling could also provide some additional funding for the pension system, but think it is a constitutional issue and therefore should be a question for voters to answer on the ballot.
They also think tax reform could be another source of revenue for the pension system.
“In order to accomplish anything meaningful as far as tax reform, medicinal marijuana, (or) anything, we are going to have to do what? Work together,” she said.
And that includes Democrats and Republicans, as well as those who are from urban and rural areas working together to make sure Kentucky is successful.
“We all want to fully fund the pension. How are we going to get there? We're the only candidates in the Democratic primary that can win … against Matt Bevin. We believe we are the only ones that have shown an ability to work with everybody. We may not agree on some issues, but we can work together,” she said.
Another issue that both she and Adkins are passionate about is veteran affairs.
Horne's husband, Andrew, is a 27-year Marine Corps veteran, who served in both the Gulf and Iraq wars.
“We really believe the next generation is watching how we treat the current generation of veterans, and so the more we can do to provide and lift up and respect our veterans (the more) we're going to have people willing to serve,” she said. “We have a high rate of people wanting to be in the military as officers and we need to support their choices, whether we are talking about in high school or career. We just need to always make sure we are supporting and upholding our military families.”
Healthcare is another important issue for Horne and Adkins.
“We currently have a governor who nationally is supporting taking away preexisting conditions, so that would mean to me, as a breast cancer survivor, to me it's the difference between life and death, whether I have access to that affordable quality healthcare as someone with a preexisting condition,” she said.
It is estimated that about 70,000 people will be omitted from the Medicaid rolls this year, Horne said.
“Most people who are on Medicaid are elderly. They are disabled. They are children. They are single parents. I feel that definitely Matt Bevin's idea of reform is basically to kick people off and that's how he's going to pay the bill,” she said.
Horne believes the state legislature needs to work with the federal government to try to expand Medicaid.
She pointed out that in some Kentucky communities the biggest employer is the health care industry.
“There are people in our community, in the state, who are devising really good plans to work on this Medicaid issue,” she said, adding that state legislators need to listen to the experts to help solve health care issues.
“The bottom line is Rocky and I are both athletes. I was a swimmer and Rocky was a basketball player. We are coachable, so so we tell people all the time that we may not have all the answers to every solution but we are coachable, and we are willing to listen to the experts to make sure we can provide the success of the health and education for our community,” she said.
As for the law that now allows Kentuckians to carry concealed weapons without permits, Horne said she is a firm believer in the Second Amendment.
“I am a school board member at heart. I've been serving on the school board. There is a balance there. I worry about school safety,” she said. “I was thrilled that the school safety legislation that was put in, to see that bipartisan approach.”
While her visit was brief, Horne said she did enjoy it and hopes to return in April for a tour of Barren County High School's Innovation Zone.
“It is incredible and I am excited to talk to the superintendent. I am excited to tour it. We will be back. I'm going to try to get back next month to take that tour,” she said.
Horne also said she was impressed with the Glasgow-Barren County community.
“There's a lot going on at the county level. You've got a good judge-executive. You've got a good superintendent who are working together with the business community. That's the secret sauce and I think in this county you are getting there where you are working as workforce development,” she said. “I think I can learn from you all some of the good things that are going on here. I'm walking away with a very positive view of your county and some of the collaboration you are doing with other counties nearby.”