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King, Stevens square off for state representative seat

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By BEN CARLSON

Incumbent state Rep. Kim King (R-Harrodsburg) will square off Tuesday with challenger Kent Stevens (D-Lawrenceburg) for the right to represent the 55th District in the state House of Representatives.
Stevens held the seat before losing to King two years ago.
Each were asked the following questions, and what follows are portions of their remarks.

Kim King
What has been the most difficult thing you’ve discovered about your seat during your first term?
This may not be politically correct, but dealing with the fragile egos [of politicians] in Frankfort. When I’m talking with people one on one, I sometimes I feel like I’m in junior high. There is a lot of drama, and you have to present things in a way to play to people’s egos.
The work is fine and dealing with public issues is fine, but everyone seems to come to Frankfort with their own agendas.

What has been the most enjoyable part of being state representative?
Being with the people. I love all of the community events, projects, organizations, visiting with school children, seniors and everyone in between.
It’s very, very rewarding and the complete opposite of dealing with elected folks in Frankfort.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Increasing transparency and accountability. My entire two years of service has been based on those and trying to shine the light on bills that I’ve supported, and that will continue to be what my service is based on.
My bosses, my constituents, deserve to know how I spend my time. That’s why I post on facebook and do radio interviews, because they deserve to know what I do in a day’s and week’s time.

What has been your biggest disappointment in terms of something you wanted to do but haven’t been able to accomplish?
House Bill 81 is a bill I wrote last year and really isn’t policy oriented. It wouldn’t matter if your liberal or conservative because it calls for a roll call vote … a visual account of how we vote on fiscal measures.
I’m disappointed that my fellow legislators don’t think people deserve transparency and accountability. If you think a project is worth raising taxes over, you should be willing to have a visual account of that so people at home will know how you voted.

If there were one thing you could change about state government, what would it be?
Two come to mind; the bill I just talked about or eliminating legislative pensions. I didn’t take on this responsibility to accumulate a pension. If it’s taken away, that’s fine with me. It’s not my purpose for serving.
If it can’t be eliminated altogether, it should go from a defined benefit to a contribution. We absolutely have to do something about reciprocity. [Senate president] David Williams is getting to be appointed a judge in his area, then his pension will be based on his high judge salary rather than legislative salary. It happens all the time.

What do you feel is the most important aspect of your job?
Representing the values and thoughts of my constituents and giving them a voice in Frankfort.
I work for the people, and have not gone out and knocked on one door during this entire campaign. That could be a mistake but my rationale is that I’ve had to look at 24 hours in a day and 14 of them is to do the job I’m elected to do.
If I cut back on that to knock on doors and say I work for them, that seems like an oxymoron. I’d rather work for the folks than go out and campaign.

What are the top three reasons people in Anderson County should give you a second term?
One, I’ve been highly accessible. I can’t think of anything I’ve been asked to do with a group or organization that I haven’t taken part in.
Two, I have answered my constituents’ concerns and questions in a timely manner. I haven’t always been able to get the solution their working for, but folks in Anderson County should reflect and say I got back to them in a timely manner and tried to help with their problems.
Three, I represent their values and priorities. For example, I’ve heard over and over that, during his term, the people of Anderson County were furious that coming from a county that has two distilleries and tobacco, Kent Stevens voted for tax increases on both.

What role can or have you played in fostering job growth in Anderson County?
I serve on the economic development committee and, invariably, when we hear from folks considering Kentucky nationally and internationally, there are three things they want and need.
One is an educated workforce. Not necessarily a four-year degree, but skills coming out of our area technology centers. They want workers coming out of school who can read, do simple math and be trained on how to use a computer.
Two, they want Internet access, especially in rural areas.
Three, they want a centralized location, and we do well with that in Anderson County.
I’m working on all of those things.

What specifically have you been able to do for Anderson County during the past two years?
The very first thing I heard, even before I was sworn in, was that people were aggravated about the 45 mph speed limit [in front of the new Ward Elementary School].
I received 10 calls about that in the first month, so I got a hold of transportation and by the end of my first spring it was [done]. I worked with the school board, fiscal court and District 7 to get that done.

Kent Stevens
What was the most difficult thing you discovered about your seat during your term?
I didn’t realize just how many different issues there were. They come up and a decision has to be made. Some things you don’t even think about become the most important things.
You have to realize and accept that because some things you don’t want to happen, happen, and some things you want to happen, can’t.

What was the most enjoyable part of being state representative?
That’s easy. When I was able to help somebody … when I could make something better for an individual or for the entire county. That was the most enjoyable thing, by far.

What was been your biggest achievement during your term?
Being with a group for Senate Bill 1. We held out to get rid of writing portfolios in fourth grade for revamped CATS testing. Eight of us were fortunate enough to be on that committee.

What was your biggest disappointment in terms of something you wanted to do but weren’t able to accomplish?
During my first year there, the budget passed in the House included around $105 million for projects in Anderson County. It also had to pass the Senate, so I knew it might change, but Sen. [David] Williams had a different version.
We went to a special session and Williams tells us this was the only budget that would get approved. It contained furlough days [for state employees]. It was one of those things that if there was no budget, it would shut down state government for a month. If that happened, [state employees] wouldn’t get paid at all.
I had to make a decision and didn’t want state workers to lose a month’s pay, so I voted for that budget so that wouldn’t happen.
That was a bluff on his part.

If there were one thing you could change about state government, what would it be?
Partisanship. It seems like Democrats and Republicans can sometimes get caught up in partisanship instead of concentrating on things that matter.
We really need to keep on doing the right thing for the right reason for the good of all the people.

What do you feel is the most important aspect of the job?
Understanding the process and accepting the process. Dealing with the process and getting the most out of it for the people you represent.

What are the top three reasons people in Anderson County should give you a second term?
One, I understand the process of what being a state representative is about. For example, I know what’s at my fingertips and about being able to go to sources and how to utilize those efforts and bring that back to the people of the county.
Two, I take the position very seriously. It’s an honor to be one of 100 in the state to hold that position. I see it as a way to help people of my district including the young, the working class and our seniors. I’m a staunch supporter of all three groups.
Three, at my age, I’m in a position to, although it’s a part-time position, to make it my top priority and use my abilities to work with the judge, the mayor and governor to bring good things to the citizens.

What role can or have you played in fostering job growth in Anderson County?
A representative is a servant and helper and the best thing you can do is have a good working relationship with local officials and private business. You’re only as good as those people are.

What specifically were you able to do for Anderson County during your two years in office?
I was able to work with Congressman Chandler’s office to bring a fire truck to the city of Lawrenceburg.
I helped push the city’s skate park grant through the governor’s office.
I had road projects including getting the road widened at Turner Elementary, which still needs to be done, the South Anderson waterline project came about while I was there, and helping to get state college credits for students who attend our community colleges.