Questions & Issues
The following questions were sent to us by Kentuckians for The Common Wealth.
What is your vision for your district? How will your district be different in two or four years if you’re elected?
Upon my election the citizens of my district will immediately have fair and accessible representation. I will help bring the voice of the people from the neighborhoods of District 60 to Frankfort including the voices of those who support our schools and of those who work in them, voices of the parents of children and young adults that need and want Frankfort to work for them. My focus is to fully support our teachers, police, firefighters, and other public employees and keep the promises made to them so we can keep our neighborhoods safe with the most dedicated police and keep our public schools with the best teachers and so on. We need the next generation coming into adulthood to flourish and excel under the policies and assistance that good legislators in Frankfort could provide.
What policies do you support to grow our clean energy economy to create new jobs and energy savings for Kentuckians?
I support policies that attract and invite new companies to Kentucky to produce clean energy products like the manufacturers of solar panels, wind energy and other types of clean energy solutions,and to hire Kentuckians to build these products here in our state. I support providing funding to our technical schools to educate and train students in these fields so we can have a workforce ready to take these jobs. Also, I support legislation that would make it easier for home owners to utilize these types of clean energy applications rather than making it harder as we have seen our current Representatives do with their support of bills like HB227 which gives unfair advantage to utilities and hurts the rooftop solar industry.
What revenue-raising solutions do you support to protect public pensions and fully and fairly fund our schools and public services? Do you support tax reforms that close loopholes for the wealthy and corporations?
This is a critical issue, an issue that the current Representative in my district doesn’t have the strength to deal with. Kentucky’s tax code is broken, outdated, and unfair. While my current Representative wants to increase taxes on middle and lower income families, I believe that there is an absolute ton of ways to bring our tax code into this century. We need a multifaceted approach to rewriting Kentucky's tax code, and methods of reform can be learned from neighbor states which have fair and workable tax codes. We could increase revenue without hurting average Kentuckians. For example, while our current Representative wants to punish those who take a proactive approach to environmental protection, I want the largest users of Kentucky's environmental resources to pay more to use our states’ great resources.
What are your ideas for addressing poverty, creating good jobs, and improving the quality of life for people in your district and across Kentucky?
I believe fighting poverty and improving quality of life starts with good public schools. If our children have access to good education regardless of their current neighborhood, they have a much better chance of succeeding as adults. It is also important to support continued economic development by attracting more companies, factories, and biomedical firms to our district, county and State. It is also important that these businesses pay a fair living wage. Let’s eliminate the term “working poor”! These firms will employ not only their own workers but hire electricians, pipefitters, and steel-workers to build their facilities. I again stress the importance of public schools because we cannot attract large international companies to our area if we do not good schools for their children to attend. I cannot emphasize enough that access to quality, portable, and affordable health care is essential to improving and maintaining the quality of life of all our citizens.
What policies would you support to protect public health and ensure access to clean water and air for all Kentuckians?
Many things have to be done to protect our children. It is important to the health of our children to have clean drinking water and to keep Kentucky’s lakes, rivers and streams clean and safe. Because we all care about the health of our children, we need to support standard and regular testing of our ground water, lakes, rivers, and streams. Access to clean water is just as important as access to clean AIR! I am optimistic that Kentuckians are ready to come together to protect the water we drink and the air we breath. Big polluters spend millions to infect us with propaganda and misinformation just so they can pollute more for economic gain, and therefore, infect our children with dirty, dangerous air and water. I believe I can create coalitions with Republicans and business owners to support clean water and clean air initiatives if am sent to the Legislature.
Do you support the restoration of voting rights for formerly incarcerated folks who have served their full sentence? Are there other policies you support to increase voting rights and voting access?
I am grateful that the KFTC has been a leader on this issue. I support inviting more folks from all walks of life to participate in our democracy by voting. It is my opinion that incarceration is a tool to reform; therefore; if reform of an offender is the goal then once an offender has completed his or her sentence, they should start with a fresh slate. That fresh slate includes the right to vote! I believe that voting should be made easier and more accessible. I will push for real absentee voting by mail here in Kentucky. Also, I believe that given Kentucky's geography that early voting or multi day voting should be allowed and I look forward to working for those types of civic participation efforts.
What would you do to support greater racial justice, oppose white supremacy and address racial inequality in the United States?
It is in the best interest of Kentucky to become an all inclusive state and an all inclusive economy. In order to improve the lives of all Kentuckians we have to unite behind the idea that we are all equal and we all deserve the chance to have a decently prosperous life for ourselves and our children. We must affirmatively oppose those who seek to divide us on the basis of color, national origin, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and so on. In order to move our state and our country forward we have to have equality for all of our children to grow and have a shot at a decent life. Public schools should be of the best quality with the best teachers regardless of the neighborhoods they serve. A prevailing living wage has to be accessible to those who work hard and shouldn’t depend on where they live or the color of their skin.
What are your plans to expand support and resources toward our immigrant population, undocumented or otherwise?
As the great-grandson of Italian immigrants, I believe in our country's history of being a beacon of hope for people seeking a better life. I believe that all children regardless of their status should be educated and have access to healthcare and provided the same safe environments my daughter is afforded. Spending time in my daughter’s excellent elementary school, I am grateful for those who educate and care for the immigrant students. Kentucky has been a welcoming and awesome place for my daughter and I, and I will work toward making sure our friends and neighbors that hail from other places and have chosen Kentucky as their home have the same warm welcome we have had here in Kentucky.
If you have a question email us and we will post and answer.
Question 9: From League of Women Voters
What should government do, if anything, to provide an equitable, quality public education for all children pre-K through grade 12?
Public Education is the bedrock foundation of any great society. Public education has to be one of the most important priorities for our government and our communities. A full range of educational services for our young people and those looking for continuing education is required in order to make Kentucky competitive. I believe there are a variety of ways to improve public education here in Kentucky. We need to also find the strength to improve revenue for education. We can do this especially if we make education the top priority for our state government.
Blog Posted by Angela Crout-Mitchell
In light of the midterm election, on November 6th, next Tuesday, it’s time to take a close look at the candidates running to serve as state representative across the region. With this goal in mind, several of the candidates agreed to sit down with me and have candid conversations about their campaigns and platforms. Without further ado, we’ll start with Jesse Parks, district 60’s candidate to travel to Frankfort and serve the people of his district.
Like many of his fellow candidates, Jesse feels strongly about the future of public education in Kentucky. He believes it is imperative to protect and improve the educational system. In response to the recent and ongoing pension debate, Jesse expresses concern that it is, in part, a carefully formulated plan to desensitize voters to the perils of funding charter schools. This desensitization may result in a “money grab” to support private, charter schools, that discourages the best and brightest teachers from considering Kentucky for their careers and jeopardizes the quality of education for Kentucky’s children.
Jesse is also concerned about voting practices in Kentucky. He advocates vote by mail to encourage voters in rural districts and areas to exercise their right. Correctly so, Jesse cites the difficulties voting poses for the poor, elderly, and disabled when polling places are at a distance. He wants to address the challenges the current 6am to 6pm voting hours pose for working voters. While Kentucky law stipulates that employers are required to allow up to four hours for employees to vote, it is up to the employers’ discretion whether that time is paid. As a result, many potential voters do not make it to the polls because of financial concerns. Jesse’s solution is to extend voting hours to ensure that the possibility of financial loss doesn’t factor in a person’s decision to go to the polls.
The opioid/heroin crisis is a major concern for Kentucky and district 60. While the current system of incarceration, followed by continued marginalization, clearly doesn’t work, Jesse has a different plan to address the problem. In his professional life, Jesse continues to work hard to hire recovering addicts and drug-related felons in an effort to give them the opportunity and best chance at leaving the drug abuse cycle behind them permanently.
Rather than incarceration and lifetime of being forced to the outside of society, Jesse believes that part of the answer to the heroin crisis lies in providing better support for women and children affected. Safe, sober housing, access to education and training, and the means necessary to not return to their former lives is key to the success of freeing people from the epidemic.
The concepts of representation and leadership are crucially important to Jesse. He feels that in the 8 years his opponent has been unopposed, the voices of the people in district 60 are largely ignored. His opponent has failed to present new ideas to benefit the rapidly growing district. He has also failed to respond to his constituents’ questions and concerns. In contrast, throughout the campaign, Jesse has gone so far as to send out his personal cell phone number and encouraged both supporters and detractors to call him with their questions and concerns. It’s a strong indication he will continue to listen and react to his constituents’ concerns once in office.
My conversation with Jesse Parks covered a lot of ground. The people of district 60 are fortunate to have a candidate with devotion to their concerns and to the growth and support of the district, Boone County, and Kentucky. Vote Jesse Parks on November 6thfor real leadership and representation.
Questions from 120 Strong:
1.Do you believe that all public employees are entitled to a defined benefit pension as outlined in Kentucky Revised Statutes and be included in the inviolable contract?
Yes. It is important to retain professional talent and retain new talent by offering defined pension plans. For current employees the benefits should be considered a contract they relied on upon being employed. Because teaching isn’t among the most lucrative positions, benefits are needed to keep teachers from taking more lucrative jobs in the private sector.
2. Kentucky is currently experiencing budgetary issues directly tied to a lack of revenue streams. What is your plan to increase revenue for the state?
The very first step is to end corporate give-aways that divert millions from the state budget to line the pockets of large, multi-national corporations. Second step is to continue to modernize the state’s tax code using surrounding states that have revised their codes as a model. The burden of providing new revenue should not be placed solely on the middle class.
3. Many have suggested increasing corporate tax rates, legalizing casino gaming, and/or legalizing marijuana as possible revenue streams for the Commonwealth to pay down the unfunded liability. Which new revenue sources do you support?
I agree with all three examples to increase revenue. Corporations need to pay their fare share. While I agree with expanded gaming, one of the conditions is that businesses engaged in gambling use organized labor. All emerging industries should be considered sources of new revenue and that includes medical and recreational marijuana.
4. Many have suggested increasing corporate tax rates, legalizing casino gaming, and/or legalizing marijuana as possible revenue streams for the Commonwealth to pay down the unfunded liability. Which new revenue sources do you oppose?
I oppose raising the tax liability of pensioners and creating new revenue streams that PREDOMINANTLY affect the middle and lower income.
5. How would you fully fund Kentucky’s public schools including higher education institutions?
Implementing the aforementioned policies to increase revenue and prioritizing public schools and higher education and never allowing state money to be used for privately held “charter” schools.
6. Do you support or oppose the merit system for Kentucky’s State Employees?
I oppose systems based purely on “merit” which is difficult to define and to apply equitably to teachers. “Merit” systems have not worked well where they have been tried.I support a system that supports career paths. Teachers deserve a raise for completing Master’s Degrees, Rank 1, Doctorate, and becoming a nationally Certified teacher if raises provide compensation for the cost of education. I oppose a merit system that is attached to test scores. Teachers have no control over the students placed in their school or classroom.
7. If elected, would you support overturning legislations that prevents Kentucky State Employees (NON-Teachers) from running for office?
Every registered voter should have the right to seek elected office.
8. Do you believe that Kentucky State Employees should be able to unionize?
Absolutely. Collective bargaining is necessary to equalize power between employee and employer, i.e. the State. Collective bargaining raises wages and guarantees benefits.
9. We believe that all pension systems need a dedicated source of revenue to pay the unfunded liability that cannot be tapped into for other uses. Please indicate how you believe this can be accomplished.
Yes. This can be accomplished through legislation.
10. Do you support or oppose overturning Charter School Legislation (HB520)?
I support overturning HB520. We need to apply all our resources to fully support and improve our current public schools now and in the future.
11. Please detail what inspired you to run for office. Be specific about a moment, piece of legislation, or individual who moved you to seek this position.
Upon moving to Kentucky when I went to vote as I have always done, there was no one on my Democratic ballot with the exception of a non-partisan Judge. In 5 minutes of research I found that my District House Representative had no opposition for several terms. As a result of being unopposed, the incumbent does not represent the communities and people of the district but only big money and his party’s leadership. I value public service and feel the citizens of Kentucky deserve a choice.