Two Democratic former state representatives from west Kentucky are looking to retake the House seats they lost to Republicans in last year's general election. Both have recently announced bids for the 2018 election.
Brent Yonts served nearly 20 years in the 15th district seat in Muhlenberg County before losing to Melinda Gibbons Prunty.
Yonts said he lost because many Democrats voted for Donald Trump and other Republicans in the 2016 presidential election.
He said if we were elected, he would resume goals he had when in office: “My mission there was to do two things: pass good law and two, bring home the pork. I don’t know how many millions of dollars worth of things I brought to my counties, but I put public dollars in those counties to improve roads, to build roads, to improve education.”
Yonts said he would also work to improve relationships between “state and local governments and the people.”
On the pension issue, Yonts said he believes the current proposal will not pass as it doesn’t focus on the weaknesses in the system, which includes looking for other sources to fund the plan. Yonts worked on pension reform legislation while he served in the House.
Yonts said he believes more Democrats will file to run for offices, but have to become more engaged to win elections. He noted change is already happening based on the results of Tuesday’s election, where Democrats swept seats in Virginia, New Jersey and New York.
Jeff Taylor of Hopkinsville is looking to retake the 8th District seat he lost to Walker Thomas.
Taylor said the pension issue is his main concern and says it should have been tackled in the last general session.
He said the national and statewide sexual harassment scandals are ‘alarming’ and would devote time in office advocating for women’s rights.
“When you take into account that 85% of teachers are females, this is another slap in the face to the people that work so hard in our public systems," he said.
Taylor said teachers deserve a fully-funded pension system and that lawmakers should close ‘loopholes’ through tax reform. Taylor also said sexual harassment training should be annual and mandatory for those in office.
He said the opioid crisis is killing the workforce and making the state unattractive to businesses. He also said the solution to fully-funding the pension system is through building an educated workforce.
“And we’ve gotta stop smokestack chasing. Everything isn’t about heavy manufacture. If we start in elementary exposing our kids to STEM and to basic IT and groom them all the way through high school and get them to community college and 4-year schools. If we build the workforce of the future, the company will come," he said.
Taylor added no politician should be ‘undecided’ when it comes to pension issues or ‘refuse comment’ when asked about their stance on sexual harassment.