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Kentucky House of Representatives, District 6

Staff report

Will Coursey (D)

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

I have served the 6th House District since being elected in early 2008, and I am currently chairman of the House Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee and vice chairman of the House Banking and Insurance Committee and the Budget Review Subcommittee on Primary and Secondary Education. Other committee assignments include Labor and Industry; State Government; and Transportation.

In the early 2000s,

I worked for several years for previous House Speaker Jody Richards, serving as a policy advisor and a liaison to Western Kentucky.

At home, my wife Nikki and I have one child, Ava, and we are members of the Oak Level Missionary Baptist Church.

I studied political science at the University of Kentucky and worked with such organizations as Needline and Habitat for Humanity. I also was interim director for West Kentucky Allied Services.

2. What makes you the best qualified candidate?

I think my best qualification is that I have proven to the people of the 6th House District that I truly have their interests at heart. I have worked hard to boost our region's economy and strengthen its infrastructure, and in many ways, we have been successful in that regard.

New Land Between the Lakes and Ledbetter bridges are some of the more prominent projects, as is the ongoing work to develop I-69.

We have also invested millions of dollars in state incentives to create jobs, which has led to hundreds of millions of dollars being spent here by new and expanding companies.

Outside of local matters, I have a long record of sponsoring and supporting bills reflecting our Western Kentucky values. That includes measures preserving our Second Amendment rights; helping working families; and giving our schools and universities the resources they need.

Because our region is under-represented in the General Assembly's leadership, my seniority and work as a committee chairman help ensure our region's needs are met. We cannot afford to backtrack if we want to make sure our voice is heard.

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

My first priority if re-elected is to make sure our families have what they need to succeed.

We have to continue working on increasing educational and workforce-development opportunities and making them more affordable; at the same time, I believe we need to help working families that are struggling. It has been more than seven years since the last minimum wage increase, for example, and I have sponsored legislation to raise the wage for tipped employees.

Other states have shown that taking steps like these don't have a negative impact on their economy.

My work as committee chairman has me focusing on ways we can help servicemen and women and veterans. Working to build a fifth veterans nursing home here in Kentucky will be a major priority during the next two years, as will efforts to make it easier to use military training to qualify for private-sector jobs.

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

I think our biggest challenges in the years ahead will be meeting the needs of a graying population while also making sure my young daughter's generation has the bright future they deserve.

I believe we can succeed in both of these areas, but it is going to take foresight and working together to accomplish this goal.

This past year's budget is a good example of how that can be accomplished. Working across party lines, we found a way to strengthen our public retirement systems; invest $100 million in workforce development; protect our vulnerable citizens; and keep education moving forward.

It helps that we're seeing the economy return to more normal growth.

We had more major jobs announcements in 2014 and 2015 than any other state on average, for example, and we get high marks for being business friendly.

A lot of this work is due to a bipartisanship that comes from being one of just a handful states with a split legislature.

The result has been a number of laws that represent true compromise and is why we are seen as a state leader in such areas as education and criminal justice. We need to keep that spirit going.

Paula Rush Robinson (R)

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

First, I am a real person; I am a wife of 19 years, mom of two children, a 23-year school teacher, a Sunday School teacher, a community volunteer, and most importantly, a Christian.

Second, I am an honest person. I believe a person's word and handshake mean something.

And I can promise you that what I say here in District 6, I will say in Frankfort. You can trust that I will not change my mind on my core values, and will not waver in my commitment to serving the people of our district. That is what your public servants are expected to do. I will work hard for us. Not for just myself. Last, I am conservative - absolutely and 100 percent. I believe in Right to Life.

That will not change if you send me to Frankfort, and I will vote that way. I make that promise and assure you I will not waver. I believe in gun rights and the Second Amendment. I believe in family and will always vote for what is best for our families and children -- it's why I am running: We need a true and committed voice for our kids and also for our teachers.

2. What makes you the best qualified candidate?

Something very unique is that I am the first woman to run for this seat, as far as I know. While that is an interesting fact, it is not why I should be elected. As an educator for 23 years, I grew very tired of the government reach into my classroom. I wanted to just teach, not jump through hoops and check boxes to meet government requirements. I want teachers and mothers to have a strong, independent voice in Frankfort.

There is only one "active" teacher out of 100 Kentucky state representatives. These men and women are setting the teaching standards in our classrooms.

That is unbelievable, and needs to be corrected. I have a new and different voice than one we have ever had before.

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

As I've studied the issues over the past 15 months, I've learned that our tax and regulatory systems need to be refined. Jobs are going down the road to Tennessee and Missouri.

We have an outdated and unfriendly business tax and regulatory system.

Our tax code was good for the economy that existed when it was written several decades ago, but the economy has changed and we need to update the tax code to reflect those changes and make our state competitive.

We should make it better for businesses, not harder. If we had more job growth, our families would have more opportunities for job choice. We want our people to work in our district, not have to drive across state lines.

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

Our pension system and Medicaid obligations are threatening to bankrupt the state and keeping businesses away. We need to get our "House" in order. I support Governor Bevin's efforts to focus spending on reducing the deficit in pension funding. I believe we are making progress. However, if we cannot get the rest of our budget under control, especially our Medicaid obligations, it will be tough to close the gap.

David Watson (L)

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

I was an Army Non-Commissioned Officer. I am a small business owner. I am a Scout leader. I am a dad and a foster dad. I am also a student of history.

Thomas Jefferson said, "The best government is that which governs least." It is also said that "a government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have." Government is supposed to be a referee, not a player, and is not supposed to pick winners and losers. For far too long, we have been electing our "leaders" rather than our representatives within the government, who are there to defend our natural rights. I aim to change this. I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Right now the biggest enemy to our rights of life, liberty and property is our own government. Also given that I'm an outsider, I won't be beholden to special interests, and will be free to do what is right, rather than what is convenient or politically expedient.

2. What makes you the best qualified candidate?

I'm not beholden to any group, but willing to work with any group that wants to move our state forward. As a veteran, I've lived in many places. Western Kentucky is a wonderful place that I'm proud to call home. I am not focused on titles, and I am not worried about "stepping stones." My goal is to serve the people of the 6th House District. We used to have citizen legislators, rather than career politicians. I would love to see us return to that.

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

The biggest concern facing every Kentuckian should be the state pension systems. This threatens to simultaneously destroy our state's finances and to renege on a promise to our state workers. We must continue to fix the state pension. I have a comprehensive plan to address the pension. My plan keeps commitments to existing pensioners, and phases in a 403b program for those with little time in the system and all new state employees. It also rewards Kentucky employees for investing in Kentucky companies.

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

Aside from the broken pension systems, other long-term issues that concern me are addressing our budget shortfalls, stopping federal overreach (to include gun control and Common Core), school vouchers, transparency within our government at all levels, red tape reduction, term limits, and tax reform.

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