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Kentucky House of Representatives, District 3

Staff report

Joni Hogancamp (R)

1. Tell us about you (including but not limited to personal, educational, and professional information):

I graduated from Murray High School, attended Murray State University, and received an associate degree from Midway College in medical laboratory technology. I have worked in the health care industry for over 30 years working for Lourdes and Metropolis labs. My partner and I launched Caring People Services, a non-medical caregiving service, which provides care in the home, hospital, and nursing homes enabling the client to be cared for in their familiar surroundings. We have had the opportunity to serve thousands of clients over the last 15 years. I have spent much time in being part of local organizations such as Paducah Rotary, Purchase Area Mental Health and Aging Coalition, St. Nicholas Foundation (previously known as St. Nicholas Free Family Clinic), thus allowing further insight into the community specifically the health care arena. I am a member of Broadway United Methodist Church for 24 years which has allowed me to be a part of our ministry to the downtown area.

2. What makes you the best qualified candidate?

I am the best candidate for House of Representatives because I started a business from the ground floor up as well as making the payroll every week and keeping the bills paid and invoices sent. My business experience is very important in my qualifications but the most important quality is I am married for 19 years and have raised two daughters while starting and growing a business. Small business is the largest job creator in West Kentucky and I know firsthand how government over reach has made it very difficult to start and grow small businesses. Health care is the largest line item in our state budget and my 30 years in the industry enables me work with other conservative legislators to find solutions to our health care needs. Common sense in evaluation proposals in Frankfort has been lost by many in Frankfort. Government as well as the private sector company's must have realistic agendas and I hope to help provide that.

3. What issue will be your first priority if you are elected?

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Lifting the Nuclear Moratorium would enable us to attract industry that offers consistent high paying jobs for West Kentucky. My opponent guaranteed, this past session, that the issue of the nuclear moratorium being lifted would not only be introduced but that it would go to the floor where it could be voted on. He failed. Lifting the moratorium is one of the highest priorities which would encourage businesses to come here and lead us to have higher paying jobs. Another very important issue is tax reform for the state, to include business and personal taxes. We are not able to compete with our surrounding neighbors because of our higher tax rate. Kentucky starts out at a disadvantage with a 6 percent income tax while Tennessee has zero. We need more qualified skilled workers, the needed skills are no longer taught at our vocational/technical school and this must be corrected.

4. What long-term issues concern you the most?

The long-term issue I view as most important is the underfunded pension program. This issue has been many years in the making and will not be solved overnight. I believe the first step to solving the problem is to admit there is one that needs to be fixed, next make a plan and then take steps to correct the problem. My opponent's solution is to borrow more money and raise taxes. The Democrat solution is not a sustainable answer. My mother and one of my sisters are retired public school teachers and we promised them and many others their retirement would be there for them. We must keep that promise and make hard choices that will make the program sustainable for the future retirees.

The systemic over reach of government into the lives of individuals as well as business have to be curbed. Government has been viewed by past legislators as the answer to every problem which goes contrary to my belief that less rather than more government is needed.

Gerald Watkins (D)

1. Tell us about you (including but not limited to personal, educational, and professional information):

I am a lifelong resident of Paducah and McCracken County. I attended Paducah public schools graduating from Paducah Tilghman High School. I was inducted into the P.T.H.S. Hall of Fame in 2013. I earned my A.A. degree from PCC, my B.S. degree and M.B.A. degrees from Murray State University. I also have 24 graduate hours above the Master's. I am employed as a college professor of political science at WKCTC. This is my 27th year at the number two college in the nation. I have been voted "Teacher of the Year" times by the student body. I have small business experience. I owned and operated Watkins Karate for 19 years and was a licensed Realtor for nine years. I served on the Reidland High School Site Based Decision Making Council, three terms on the Paducah City Commission and two terms as the 3rd District State Representative. I am vice-chairman of the Education Committee and vice-chairman of the Tourism Development and Energy Committee. I am a former Sunday School teacher and member of the board of directors of my church. I have been very involved in this community to make it a better place to live.

2. What makes you the best qualified candidate?

I believe I am the best qualified candidate because of my experience. My HB512 will literally save Lourdes hospital hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in sales and use taxes helping to protect the 1,600 jobs at Lourdes. My HB413 would prohibit the marketing, sharing or selling of your wireless phone numbers. It passed the House unanimously. My HB137 would make attempted murder of a law enforcement officer or firefighter a violent offense, requiring at least 85 percent of the time to be served instead of the current 20 percent. It passed the House unanimously. I co-sponsored HB316, an anti-bullying bill. It was signed into law in 2016. I sponsored a bill to require cable television companies to sell channels individually. My compromise on the city commission helped land MSU's 2+2 Program for Paducah and my leadership on the city commission also helped make the Community Scholarship Program a reality for students to attend WKCTC free of charge the first two years. I secured a $7.7 million grant to rebuild Kentucky Avenue from 10th to 24th streets. I secured a grant to add a new elevator and rebuild the existing two at the Jackson House for our elderly and handicapped residents.

3. What issue will be your first priority if you are elected?

My highest priorities are the safety and security of our citizens and then creating jobs and expanding educational opportunities for the people of Paducah, McCracken County and western Kentucky. I have voted 100 percent for incentives that have created or retained over 2,000 jobs with nearly $900 million in private investment for Paducah and McCracken County while serving you as city commissioner and state representative. I will continue to do that. I will introduce again a bill to remove the moratorium on the construction of a nuclear power facility for McCracken County. I will continue to secure funds to rebuild our infrastructure as I have and to support the National Quilt Museum as I have. I will continue to work hard to make Paducah and McCracken County a better place to live and work.

4. What long-term issues concern you the most?

The pension debt is the most concerning issue for the long term. Money should have been appropriated in years past when we had stronger revenue streams but none the less we are determined to make all the state pensions, including our public teachers, strong and stable for the long term. We will meet our obligations to our state workers. I supported putting $1.2 billion into our pensions this last session of the General Assembly. We also put $125 million into a pension fund that will be used after a performance audit is completed of our pensions. I support legislation to make our pension funds more transparent. The Kentucky Retirement System Board is spending too much money on investment fees. The long-term stability of our pension funds is the most concerning issue for Kentucky. We had over $900 million in additional revenue to use for that purpose and this year's revenue is even stronger. We are addressing this issue.

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