The race to represent Kentucky’s 8th Senate District, which covers Daviess, Hancock and McLean counties, is between a professor who is an Owensboro City Commissioner and a business owner who serves in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
At an Owensboro rally for Democrat Bob Glenn, the three-term city commissioner said he’s running for Kentucky’s 8th District Senate seat because he wants to see a change of direction at the state level.
“I think we need leadership in Frankfort that focuses on the needs of the middle class and working families, and that’s not the case currently,” said Glenn. “We have an administration and leadership at the House and state Senate level that are focused on enriching wealthy corporations, and really trying to make the lives of working people as difficult as possible.”
Glenn is a professor of communication at Owensboro Community and Technical College. He said the state has not been making investments in education that will pay off in the long-run.
“You look at the cuts to community college and four-year education. It’s almost 38 percent over the last five years,” said Glenn.
He says there have also been cuts to K-12 education that put the state at a disadvantage.
“The foundation and the original development of our workforce comes from education, whether it’s technical training or whether it’s traditional academic pathways,” said Glenn. “And when you cut those budgets, when you don’t properly fund education at all levels, particularly our public schools, you guarantee another generation of poverty. You guarantee another generation of young people, who as soon as they get trained or certified who are going to leave this state because the wages they’ll earn aren’t worth the contribution and investment they’ve made to get certified and be workforce ready.”
Health care is another key issue for Glenn. He disagrees with Governor Matt Bevin’s discontinuation of KYNECT, Kentucky’s health insurance exchange that drew national praise.
“You look at the intentions to pull away public health care to over 400,000 people on Medicaid who never had access to medical care before, one of the great triumphs of the Kentucky KYNECT system, and you clearly sense that we have an administration, and people in the House and state Senate, who do not have the best interests of working families and individuals at the core.”
Then there’s the state pension bill that drew angry protests from thousands of teachers because it scales back some benefits for current and future educators – and it was attached to a sewer bill.
“You don’t pass a sewer bill, House Bill 151, in the dark of day, while 12,000 teachers are sitting outside protesting, if you’re engaged in ethical moral leadership,” Glenn said.
Glenn’s opponent, Republican Matt Castlen, is the one-term representative for State House District 14 and the owner of Castlen Steel. Despite several requests, Castlen was not available for an interview with WKU Public Radio. However, he was among many state and local candidates who spoke at the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce Red, White & Blue Picnic. In comments from that public forum, recorded by Owensboro Community and Technical College, Castlen said during his term in the legislature the state’s economy has been very healthy.
“We had the lowest unemployment rate in 43 years here in Kentucky, $17 billion of investment in the last two years, $3billion more in exports,” said Castlen.
He says his platform is also built on other important developments.
“We fully funded the pensions for our teachers and state workers at $3.4 billion."
Castlen says he thinks one of the major accomplishments of the GOP controlled legislature has been the passage of the anti-abortion legislation.
“We passed six pro-life bills,” said Castlen. “The ultrasound bill, the 20-week abortion ban. We defunded Planned Parenthood in Kentucky.”
Castlen says he wants to work in the state Senate to keep up the positive momentum.
“Put people back in office who have turned this state in a different direction. Who’s got people back to work,” said Castlen. “The economy is strong again. We’re standing up for the moral issues in Kentucky.”
Republican Matt Castlen and Democrat Bob Glenn are competing to fill the seat of retiring Republican state Senator Joe Bowen, who has represented Kentucky’s 8th District since 2011, and also served two years in the state House.
On November 6th voters will choose a new state senator who will help determine the course of the Bluegrass State over the next four years.