A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Letters to editor: Kara Gebhart Uhl on why Charles Booker; Kimberly Luse on why Amy McGrath

(Editor’s note: Kentucky’s primary election is Tuesday, June 23. See details about voting here, if you haven’t already asked for a mail-in ballot, it’s too late to get one. It is a partisan election and registered voters can vote only in the Democratic or the Republican primary. Independents cannot vote in either one.)

Kara Gebhart Uhl: Charles Booker, the leader we need

Who knows if Daniel Boone or a preacher or anyone ever really said the phrase that lives on T-shirts in gift shops across the state: “Heaven must be a Kentucky kind of place.” But the phrase thrives because we Kentuckians know it to be true. Still, when my husband and I moved across the Ohio River and bought a house in Fort Thomas 15 years ago, the jokes from friends, family members and colleagues began. How did we go from heaven to the butt of a joke?

Mitch McConnell — a multimillionaire career politician who works for himself and his tight circle of millionaire friends instead of those he vowed to serve.

Charles Booker

McConnell, the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, holds the record as the longest-serving U.S. senator for Kentucky and the longest-serving leader of the U.S. Senate Republicans. How is it possible for Kentucky to struggle on numerous fronts when we have an “in” like McConnell? This is exactly what authors Matt Jones and Chris Tomlin asked of McConnell’s constituents in all of Kentucky’s 120 counties resulting in The New York Times bestselling book “Mitch, “Please! How Mitch McConnell Sold Out Kentucky (and America, Too).”

After making a joke of his own state for personal gain over the last 30 years in the U.S. Senate, it’s time for someone who can take us seriously. It’s time for Charles Booker.

“Kentucky needs a movement, and we need to start talking about our dreams again,” says Booker in the video on his website. “We need a Green New Deal to create thousands of good jobs right here in the Commonwealth to help us do what we do best — take care of one another. We can guarantee new jobs for teachers and nurses, build new hospitals and schools, and we can win Medicare for all so that nobody has to die because they don’t have money in their pocket. We can win real Democracy, in Washington and the workplace. And when we win, we show that something new is happening in Kentucky. Because we’re not a joke. We’re not a tragedy. I know Kentucky is the future. And America should follow our lead.”

Booker didn’t enter this race to sip mint juleps while making deals in Millionaire Row. Instead, he is the epitome of general admission, talking to and spending time with the people he represents. Born and raised in one of Kentucky’s poorest zip codes, Booker knows how to represent constituents who need food stamps because he grew up on food stamps.

Booker understands everyday Kentuckians because he is one –– and having held local, state and federal government positions over the last decade, he also understands the rules of the game. But instead of sitting in the Clubhouse, looking down at us, Booker is living it up in the infield with us. While McConnell may have his stagnant, selfish years in office and closed-door handshakes, Booker has the raucous and righteous backing of everyday Kentuckians who demand, and deserve, better.

Booker was elected to the Kentucky State House of Representatives in 2018, and serves as the youngest Black state legislator in 90 years. Booker believes in universal healthcare and universal basic income, systemic criminal justice reform, and tackling climate change. He is endorsed by Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Lexington Herald-Leader, The Courier Journal, unions, organizations, and celebrities. Booker has the vision, support and drive to beat McConnell. Booker has the “we,” which is so much more powerful than the “me.”

On Sunday, Booker spoke at a unity march in downtown Paducah. According to an article in The Paducah Sun, Booker said to the crowd, “You have shown a resolve and we are letting the country know what Kentucky is all about right now,” (regarding recent anti-racism demonstrations across the state). “We are showing the world what we can do when family stands up for and takes care of one another and leans in and loves and uplifts one another.”

We Kentuckians need to show the U.S. that we will no longer be bullied by McConnell. And Charles Booker is the leader we need to win a fight that should have been won years ago.

We are not a joke.

But for many, Kentucky is not a heaven kind of place. Booker is here to help us not just survive, but thrive. “It’s time to take back what’s ours and transform our system so it invests in all of us through public education, healthcare, and more,” Booker says on his website. “It’s time to believe again.”

Choose Booker. It’s time.

Kara Gebhart Uhl is a freelance writer and editor who lives with her husband and three children in Fort Thomas.

Kimberly Luse: Why I’m supporting Amy McGrath

Many people have asked me why I am so involved with this election year, specifically supporting Lt. Colonel Amy McGrath.

Here is why:

I was born and raised in Northern Kentucky. I have a deep love of my state, and the people that call the Commonwealth home. I am deeply troubled by the performance of Senator Mitch McConnell, and how Kentucky has been harmed as a result. For more than three decades under his leadership, I have watched as Kentucky has ranked near the bottom nationally in critical areas. Current statistics show this:

Amy McGrath

• 44th in Health Care
• 48th in Healthcare Quality
• 38th in Education
• 43rd in Higher Education
• 39th in Economy
• 44th in Employment
• 44th in Economic Opportunity
• 45th in Fiscal Stability

I have been appalled to watch at the national level where a Senator from my beloved state has reveled in his nickname, “The Grim Reaper” as he explains that his desk is where legislation goes to die. As I travel with my business and share where I am from I often field the same question. “Why do Kentuckians keep sending Mitch McConnell back to the Senate?”

We, as Kentuckians, deserve so much more. We, as Kentuckians, owe our country so much better.

There are currently six pieces of legislation that have come to the same fate on Senator McConnell’s desk. These are focused on healthcare reform, specifically pharmaceutical issues. Senator Mitch McConnell refuses to bring the bills to the floor of the Senate so they can be debated.

On a very personal level, I can share that our family is one that has been deeply affected by the opioid epidemic. Knowing that pharmaceutical companies knew the addictive effects of their narcotic medications and have not been held accountable is unconscionable. Knowing that my state senator has taken contributions and turned the other way instead of insisting on reform is agonizing.

My husband, Evan, and I are parents to six children and twelve grandchildren. When we look back at this historic election, I am going to tell them I did my part. I stood up and cast my vote for Lt. Colonel Amy McGrath. 

I have had the opportunity to interact with Amy personally. She is a native Kentuckian. She has a heart for the state and the people here. She uniquely understands the needs of the state. She is one of us.  As one of the first women to fly as a fighter pilot while serving in the Marines, she has demonstrated leadership, as well as nerves of steel.   

She was also raised in Northern Kentucky. She is a graduate of Notre Dame High School. You do not need to educate Amy on our struggles to have resources directed to us as an equal part of the state. Do you remember the summer of 2017? When the Brent Spence Bridge was closed for a period of time? The infrastructure, including the bridges that span the Ohio River have needed attention, funding, and a plan of action to ensure safety and sustainability. Under McConnell, none of this has occurred. Amy understands how crucial our regional issues are. She grew up here. She gets it.

Amy McGrath is being attacked from many sides. She is being labeled as, “Pro-Trump” and therefore not Democrat enough to be supported. This is erroneous. She has stated that she is, “Pro-America and Pro-Constitution, and pro doing what it takes to help Kentuckians.”

Isn’t that what we want? Progress. Moving forward.

She has committed to working across the aisle once in her seat in Washington. This will change not only the trajectory of our state but the country as a whole. She will help us to regain our place on the world stage as a country that is a leader to be followed and respected.   

I encourage you to join me. History is about to be made and it is beginning right here in the Bluegrass State. The stakes have never been higher.

Dr. Kimberly A. Luse
Strategic Ethical Solutions, International

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