Legislative responsibility comes with a charge to represent the best interests of all of the constituents in an assigned district. In order to fulfill that duty, an elected official must be able to step out of his/her/their experience and step into the experiences of others. Listening to understand the experience of others is what I am professionally trained to do as a therapist. Charging ahead with recommendations before gaining understanding in a therapy room will always lead to inefficiency and broken trust. I approach legislation no differently. I seek to listen and understand first.
In my experience as a therapist and community member, I have come to appreciate how differences make our communities more complete. I have come to appreciate how helping others to reach their full potential helps the community as a whole prosper. I have come to appreciate how much we can learn from others when we linger a while and chat with our neighbors. Our neighbors are important. They are the ones who lend you an egg, watch your kids, or give you a ride when your car won't start. Our neighbors are an extension of our families. Sometimes we fight, sometimes we set boundaries, but ultimately we are joined together as we seek to live happy and healthy lives. We all want good things for our neighbors and our neighborhoods. I want to be not only a good representative of our state, but also a good neighbor. I invite our entire district to #luvurneighbor68, from next door to the district line.
Traditional schools and public education are under attack at the State and Federal levels. We have seen multiple pieces of legislation introduced in Kentucky and nationally that seek to fuel public funds into for-profit businesses that hide under the banner of education. I come from a family of public school teachers, counselors, and principals; and not for one minute do I believe that any of these businesses care about the children that walk through the doors of Kentucky schools every day.
I have seen the transformative love and care of Kentucky's public school teachers in my boys' lives. My middle son, Linus, has Trisomy 21 or Down syndrome. He benefits from the State and Federal protections he has to a Free and Appropriate Public Education, a 504 plan, or an Individualized Education Plan. What does that mean? That means that if he needs extra support in the classroom to learn due to his disability, he is guaranteed the opportunity to have an aide, extra time, or other assistive measures. It means that he has the right to be in the least restrictive environment possible to learn, so he is not placed in a classroom by himself and socially isolated. It means that even though he may not be like other students cognitively his life has meaning and value. It recognizes that he makes his teachers and peers better as they learn how to accommodate, love, and support a person with a disability. It shows that our State cares about ALL students. It demonstrates that we are Pro-Life. You may know and love a student with Attention Deficit Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder. A vote against Public Education is a vote against these children. It sends a clear message: you are less than, and you do not matter.
I entrust not only Linus, but all three of my sons to quality, certified Public Education teachers each day. When I say entrust, I do not mean only their safety on the playground. I mean that I trust teachers to utilize their skills to provide the best quality education they can each and every day. I trust teachers' knowledge in their areas of expertise. I trust teachers want the best for ALL of their students, not simply the most high-achieving. I trust teachers to provide excellence in conjunction with their local administrators, colleagues, students, parents, and school boards who care about the students in their area. I trust teachers with my kids for seven hours a day, and I want to listen to them and work with them for the best outcomes in our state.
We must listen to teachers when they say these are the toughest years they have faced. We must listen to teachers when they express fear that they once again have to fight for their health, safety, and financial futures. We must listen to teachers when they warn of funding cuts that will affect their abilities to do their jobs. We must listen to teachers when they are fired for their gender or sexual orientation. We must listen to teachers when they say they are weary. I hope my candidacy is a direct line of communication to Frankfort on behalf of traditional school and public education teachers.
Women and Families
When you think of our state's infrastructure you may think of entities such as buildings, the internet, roads, or the power grid. You may not think of the services such as childcare, eldercare, school volunteer, community involvement, and household management. Women predominately fill these necessary roles without compensation. Even with many advances in women's rights in our country, women primarily make sacrificial decisions in their careers in order to provide care for their families. The pandemic highlighted this trend in our country as Census Bureau analysis estimates up to 3.5 million women with school-age children left the workforce at the beginning of the pandemic. Equal Pay in our country will never be achieved as women are expected to continue to provide free infrastructure to their communities. Women must be compensated for the invisible labor they provide that ultimately keeps our economy moving. Supporting women financially for ALL of the work they do is an investment in women, families, and the future of our economy.
Women are also the source of employment in many social service industries: counseling, social workers, nurses, teachers, and daycare providers are predominantly career roles performed by women. Many of these positions are low pay with high stress, and burnout is a problem. We must care for the caretakers in our community by paying a living wage and recruiting more workers to handle the load in these professions. Without these services our communities will suffer.
During the pandemic, many families and children were able to better care for themselves thanks to stimulus packages. No Kentuckian should ever go hungry. No mother should ever worry about how she will make rent or pay for food to feed her children. The impacts of poverty on brain development in children and mental health for all family members are significant. Poverty is not an outcome of laziness or a moral failing. Poverty usually arises through hardships families endure thanks to systems that are in place that only benefit the wealthy in our country and punish the poor. I hope to be a voice for women, children, and families in Kentucky that face the complicated and binding challenges of poverty in our state. It is expensive to be poor in our country. A system that is set up to punish the poor does not benefit anyone in our state, especially our future generations.
Healthcare and Mental Healthcare
ALL Kentuckians have a right to access medical and mental health treatment. Families should not be praying that no one becomes ill while they are between jobs and cannot afford the thousands of dollars in predatory COBRA payments to bridge the gap in health insurance that is tied to employment. Parents should not be putting off preventative care in hopes that they can make rent or pay the copayment for their child's well-visit. Families' medical out-of-pocket expenses should not bankrupt them or cause them to lose their homes. This is the reality for many Kentuckians every day. Decisions about medical care are not able to be based on doctor recommendations, but affordability. It is expensive to be sick in our country. It is expensive to have a disability in our country. It is expensive to care for loved ones at the beginning and ending of life in our country. It is expensive to access preventative care in our country. This expense advantages the wealthy who can afford excessive copays and out-of-pocket fees, and it leaves the rest of us to be...well sick.
The way for-profit insurance works in our country doesn't only affect the patient, but it also affects the provider. Navigating complex and differing insurance boards is costly to providers as they must hire full-time staff to bill insurance companies who negotiate lower fees for services that are to benefit the insurance company, not the patient. This is evident in mental health where many small practice owners cannot afford to invest the time and money into having a full-time billing department, and therefore they opt to become a private-pay practice only. In a time of mental health crisis in our country, insurance companies are limiting access to providers by making it too costly for providers to accept insurance from patients. Insurance companies place caps on visits not based on professional recommendations, but what is profitable for their CEOs. We need a new system. A system that doesn't require a law degree to read your healthcare bills. A system that is based on meeting the needs of patients. A system that is based on opening access to providers so they can appropriately care for patients based on their expertise and not on what a patient can afford. We need a healthcare system that is in the business of not greed but health.
Union Labor is necessary to provide health, safety, and fair pay to our many hard-working Kentuckians. During the pandemic our country discovered the many benefits of democratically elected unions in keeping employees safe and advocating for employees to have flexibility in caring for family members due to Covid exposure and school closures. Unions work to secure pay that increases with the rate of inflation to reduce income inequality and to protect paid leave time. Unions give workers a collective voice at the bargaining table with management so that workers' interests are equally represented. Unions help close the wage gap for women and people of color, making a more equitable economy for everyone. Unions protect workers' retirement/pension. Unions work for the good of all by establishing that workers have significant power by providing their labor to the economy. Unions promote dignity to individuals and families by advocating for working conditions that are equitable, healthy, and beneficial to those providing the labor in the marketplace.
The most profound philosophy to live by is, "I'm not gonna put up with any foolishness!" - My Papaw
No one dances better than Rita Moreno.
Whiskey is NOT bourbon.
Failure is not a bad word.
Dionne Warwick's Twitter account is why you should be on Twitter.
Cheese should be in grits and bacon grease should be in green beans.
The Golden Girls were hilarious.
Hanging out with people different from us makes us better humans.
Cutting bangs is always a fantastic idea.
Bruce Springsteen is the greatest rockstar of all time.
All people are worthy of dignity and love.
Tracee Ellis Ross is a style icon.
Cadbury Eggs are the superior holiday candy.
Northern Kentucky is the best part of Kentucky!