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Schrage, Keene Face Off in House District 67

The candidates for state representative in House District 67 faced off in a debate this week. The event was hosted by the Northern Kentucky Tribune.

Democratic incumbent Dennis Keene, first elected in 2004, met his opponent, Republican Bob Schrage at Trinity Episcopal Church in Covington. The district includes most of northern Campbell County and includes the cities of Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, Silver Grove, Highland Heights, Woodlawn, and part of Highland Heights.

At the forum, issues such as the heroin crisis in the region, and the state's struggling retirement system were addressed.

Schrage, who teaches in the master of public administration program at Northern Kentucky University after spending 27 years at the Northern Kentucky Area Development District and as director of administration at Transitions, Inc., said that more dollars should be invested in treatment and outpatient services with a goal of decreasing recidivism.

“For each dollar we spend in prevention,” Schrage said, “we save $12 in traditional correctional services like prison and court costs.”

Keene said that he has worked in the state legislature to go after drug companies that make opioids, which led to the current crisis through over-prescription.

The Democrat called for a special board to be established to track the money won in these lawsuits so that could more quickly be invested in prevention services.

Both candidates agreed that more funding would be needed for the teacher pension system.

They agreed that cutting spending in other areas could be found to support that.

Keene argued for casino gaming in the state, which he suggested could add as much as $400 million to the state coffers for such an effort.

The candidates also addressed the Brent Spence Bridge replacement project, and how the estimated $2.6 billion project could happen.

Keene said that U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, could come up with a viable option for the project. Schrage expressed a lack of confidence in the federal government in solving the funding problem and also took a stand against tolls being used to finance it. 

Written by Kareem Simpson, RCN contributor