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Op-Ed: Vote Jesse Parks for State Representatitve, House District 60

The following is an op-ed written by Angela Crout-Mitchell in support of Democratic candidate Jesse Parks, who's running against incumbent Republican Sal Santoro for state representative in House District 60.

I had the opportunity to sit down recently with Jesse Parks, the candidate for KY district 60 state representative. What I learned in that time is that Jesse is wholeheartedly invested in the growth and best interests of district 60, Boone County, and Kentucky. In these last days before the midterm election, let’s take a look at Jesse, his campaign, and his plans for Frankfort when he’s elected.

It is impossible to have a conversation with Jesse and not catch on to his passionate belief in equal, fair leadership and representation. In a time when candidates and elected officials are refusing to answer the questions and concerns of the people, hold town halls, or respond to phone calls and emails, Jesse Parks has spent his campaign proving that he will not be one of those representatives that thinks he isn’t responsible to the people, once in office. From answering questions on his Facebook page, to providing supporters and detractors, with his personal cell phone number, Jesse has already proven he welcomes input and isn’t afraid to interact quickly and effectively with those with questions and concerns. This emphasis on communication and transparency will be invaluable in Frankfort.

Speaking of communication, voting is one of the most effective ways people can make their wishes known. Jesse has a couple of ideas about how to improve that process across the state. In Kentucky, including parts of district 60, people who live in rural areas sometimes experience difficulties getting to the polls. Vote by mail would eliminate the problems the elderly, disabled, and impoverished experience with reliable transportation to get to the polls. Additionally, Jesse is in favor of extending voting hours. Not only could this change alleviate the problems some in rural areas experience, it would also benefit Kentucky’s working voters. While Kentucky law states that employers must give their employees four hours to vote, it does not stipulate whether that time must be paid. That decision is up to the discretion of the employer. Extended voting hours are a sure solution for working voters to assure that they won’t suffer financially for making the decision to vote.

One of the biggest challenges facing Kentucky is the heroin epidemic. The crisis has already claimed thousands of lives and shattered thousands of others. For Jesse, the solution lies in education, rehabilitation, and giving those in recovery a real chance to break the cycle of abuse. He advocates starting with the most at-risk victims, women and children. Currently, women are frequently caught in a cycle of recovery and repeat addiction due to an inability to escape the environment that led to the initial addiction. Jesse’s plan is to focus on sober and safe housing, while helping women receive the education and training necessary to move on to stable employment, benefits, and housing, eliminating the need to return to the environments and people who may risk sobriety. For recovering addicts of both genders, it is of paramount importance to create an environment that is ready to accept them and willing to provide employment and a real chance at a drug free, healthy life.

Education and a strong, healthy environment are vital to all residents of district 60. Jesse supports protecting the pensions of our teachers, first responders, and state employees. He believes that if Kentucky is to attract and keep, high quality teachers, police officers, and firefighters, social workers, and others, the Commonwealth must protect their best interests. With quality state employees, our public education system remains strong and improves, with tax dollars going to public schools and not into the pockets of the people who own privatized charter schools.  Our streets are safer with first responders who are equipped, trained, and able to assist in emergencies. Protecting their promised pensions and benefits is the right thing to do and ensures that Kentucky’s present and future are in the hands of people who know that the sacrifices they make during their careers will be rewarded.

November 6th is almost here. It’s time for the voters in district 60 to decide what kind of leadership they want in Frankfort. That decision should come down to the candidate who will listen to ideas and concerns about the district’s best interests, promote growth and stability in district 60, and be proactive and transparent about what’s happening in Frankfort. Vote Jesse Parks!

Photo: Jesse Parks