Candidates say economy, education top their priorities

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By Shannon Brock

Both democratic candidates in the race for the 55th district's state representative - which includes Anderson County - place the economy and education among their top concerns

Current Rep. Milward Dedman, of Harrodsburg, and his opponent Kent Stevens, of Lawrenceburg, both spoke at the April 22 meeting of the Anderson County Democratic Women's Club.

Each candidate was given nine and half minutes to speak, then the floor was opened up for questions from the women in attendance.

Going in alphabetical order, Dedman took the floor first and immediately addressed the issue of his party affiliation. Dedman said he registered as a "strong" democrat in 1982, but became "disenchanted" and switched his registration to republican in 2004 before being elected to Kentucky's House of Representatives.

"I knew I'd made a mistake the day I walked in there," Dedman said about arriving in Frankfort.

He said throughout the next few years, his democratic colleagues told him he was more of a democrat than they were.

Dedman changed his registration and again became a democrat in September 2007 before the gubernatorial election.

"(That decision) wasn't popular, but I had to do what was right," he said.

Dedman said he thought that was the best time to make the move because the gubernatorial race had not yet been decided.

Dedman said his top three concerns were the economy, getting funding for education and affordable health care.

"I see good things for Anderson County and the whole 55th district ahead," he said.

As state representative, Dedman said he is a public servant.

"It's gratifying to help people in the district that need help," he said. "My busiest months are the months that I'm not in Frankfort."

Stevens took the floor and reminded those in attendance that he was a life-long Anderson County resident and a "yellow dog democrat."

Stevens ran against Dedman in 2006, but lost by a margin of 278 votes.

Stevens said he had the same goals in mind now as he did two years ago.

"Two years ago, I was approached about it (running for office), and I agreed." he said, adding that problems two years ago centered on health care, education and the economy.

"Two years later, I think things are worse and I still want to make a difference," Stevens said.

Stevens labeled himself a "caring" candidate, saying he cares about people ranging from state employees to those in the education system to college-age students.

"I'm a democrat that wants the best for everybody and I'll do what I can to help everybody and anybody in Mercer, Anderson and Spencer counties," he said. "I wish I knew all the answers, but I don't know them all."

Stevens urged the audience to support him.

"I'll go to Frankfort and I will represent you and do what is best for you," he said.

Once audience member asked Dedman if years down the road he would again vote with the republicans. He said no.

"I'm home to stay," he said.

Both candidates said they would leave the casino gambling issue up to the voters.

"I don't know a thing about gambling," Stevens said. "But I know we're losing a lot of money to Indiana and Illinois. I have no problem with casino gambling coming to a vote."

Dedman said he didn't get a chance to voice his opinion on casino gambling during the session of the General Assembly because the issue never got out of committee.

"Let the people vote," he said. "Personally, I'm not a supporter of gambling, but you can never go wrong with letting the people vote."

The primary election is May 20.