Thursday, November 05, 2009

House of Representatives Candidate Matthew Vanderpool talks about his campaign against conservative incumbent Stan Lee

Education is key to electing politicians. As an effort to educate everyone* about the importance of voting, not only in U.S. Presidential elections, but your elected lawmakers in Frankfort, United We Stand will be conducting interviews with conservative and progressive candidates so you know exactly who you are voting for will stand up for YOU. 

* Not only the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex population. 

Lawmakers in Frankfort determine funding, criminal codes, road and bridge projects, medical assistance, low-income assistance, parental rights, and thousands of other items.

To begin the series of interviews, Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer recommended that I begin with Mr. Matthew Vanderpool (D-Lexington), who is one of the candidates running against Representative Stan Lee (R-Lexington).

A Conversation with Statehouse Candidate Matthew Vanderpool 
Vanderpool is undertaking a major battle in an effort to unseat Lee; complete community support is essential.

Education is key to electing politicians. As an effort to educate everyone* about the importance of voting, not only in U.S. Presidential elections, but your elected lawmakers in Frankfort, United We Stand will be conducting interviews with conservative and progressive candidates so you know exactly who you are voting for will stand up for YOU.

* Not only the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex population.

Lawmakers in Frankfort determine funding, criminal codes, road and bridge projects, medical assistance, low-income assistance, parental rights, and thousands of other items.

It’s quite simple; the state has more direct impact on your daily life than the federal government ever will.

Take this into consideration:
To begin the series of interviews, Kentucky Equality Federation President Jordan Palmer recommended that I begin with Mr. Matthew Vanderpool (D-Lexington), who is one of the candidates running against Representative Stan Lee (R-Lexington). (previous story) 


This interview was conducted by Michael Thomas and edited by Tony Begley. 

United We Stand:  First of all I’d like to get this question out of the way, are you gay? 

Vanderpool: Yes I am. But I don’t want that to be the main focus of the campaign. I am part of a movement. I am not the gay candidate; I am the candidate that happens to be gay. 

United We Stand: What was the primary reason you decided to seek election to the Kentucky House of Representatives? 

Vanderpool: For far too long, our representatives and senators have been looking at the offices they hold as simply a job and not what they are meant to be, a privilege to serve the people, not only in their district, but around Kentucky.  Because of this mentality they are unable to come together to find solutions in a practical, common sense way and the people are suffering from it.

I am running for the Kentucky House of Representatives in District 45 (map) to do precisely that, represent the interest and goals of the people. 

I am not a puppet in the back pocket of big business and special interest. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we work together. That’s the main reason why my motto for the campaign is "Democracy starts with you." 

United We Stand:  What do you think Kentuckians are the most concerned with right now? 

Vanderpool:  The biggest issue that is impacting us all, including myself, is the economy. People are stressed and on the brink of losing hope, and once you lose that you have nothing else left.  People are losing their jobs, can’t find jobs and as a result are having trouble paying for the things they need and want.  The economy seems to be getting better as a whole, but it will not be better until our families are able to focus back on the American dream, instead of 'are they going to be able to pay their bills next month?' 

United We Stand:  What can the Legislative Branch of the Kentucky’s Government do to help Kentuckians with this problem? 

Vanderpool:  I believe we need to take a FDR approach.
  1. We need to get the government involved to create more jobs through programs and tasks that need to be done around our commonwealth.  I support the green collar concept in getting people back to work on "green" type projects.  
  2. We need to look at what parts of the commonwealth have been hit hardest by the economy and find new companies and operations that we can get in those areas, so we can get our citizens back to work.  
  3. We need to do something about our healthcare system so people don't drown in even more debt because of medical bills. 
  4. Lastly we need to build confidence in our citizens about the government and what it is capable of doing when the right people are in office. 
United We Stand:  What do you think about Senate President Williams' recent statement that Governor Beshear was "poisoning" the Commonwealth’s political atmosphere by dangling jobs to lure Republicans out of the Senate?

Vanderpool:  I believe that republicans have just as much right to hold an office as democrats do.  Granted the right side of the aisle is usually unwilling to work together with democrats to find solutions on most problems that impact us.  They are also the first ones to speak out against bills that would progress Kentucky towards a more prosperous future for not only gays but other minority groups as well.  

If the Governor is doing what Senate President Williams claims he is doing I do believe it is wrong.  The only group that should have the say on if someone should not be elected is the people.  The people need to have the facts laid out in front of them and shown why this person should not be re-elected.  If the Governor is doing this to gain more seats for democrats he is only temporarily fixing the problem.  The senators are elected from districts that lean more to the right side and without proper grassroots movements, will more than likely be voted in again next term anyway. 

United We Stand Follow-up:  Agreed, but if that is in fact what the Governor is doing it's a great way to get what he wants in the meantime [moral and ethical objections aside].  Once a law is passed, it is difficult to get it completely deleted from the books, and would face the Governor's veto power if even attempted [assuming new Republicans are re-elected to the Senate seats currently vacant as a result of the Governor appointing them to the Judiciary or Executive Branch].  

United We Stand:  A factual knowledge question: Do you know when the last time Democrats controlled the Kentucky Senate? Who was final Senate President Pro Tempore was (prior to Kentucky’s 1992 Constitutional Amendment which kicked the Lieutenant Governor out of the Senate? How long did he serve in that capacity? 

Vanderpool:  That’s a good question, prior to the 1992 amendment to Kentucky's Constitution, the President pro tempore acted as the presiding officer and most powerful member of the Kentucky Senate.

The last President pro tempore was John "Eck" Rose.  Rose was the Senate President pro tempore from 1983-1993, he continued as President of the Kentucky Senate after the Constitutional Amendment passed and served from 1993-1997 until retiring.  It is also interesting to note that prior to the 1992 Constitutional Amendment, the Kentucky President pro tempore became the "Acting Governor" anytime the Governor left the Commonwealth; this resulted in heated debates because bills would be signed into law and executive orders issued by the "Acting Governor" that the elected Governor would have otherwise vetoed or not issued.

United We Stand:  As a gay male, how do you feel about this statement: "It's OK to fire someone if they're gay.  Historically, homosexuals haven't suffered." - Representative Joseph Fischer (R). (source) 

Vanderpool:  I think the statement is ignorant and the person who said it needs to be educated on the history of the LGBT community.  Our public officials are elected to fight for the needs of all, not a few; gays are a part of that "all" group.  This type of "two dimensional thinking" holds Kentucky back instead of moving us forward towards a brighter future. 

United We Stand:  Do you support the Governor's expanded gambling proposal to bring new revenue to the Commonwealth? 

Vanderpool:  Kentucky is known throughout the world as "horse country" and the most famous of all horse races are held within our borders, the Kentucky Derby.  Each year people visit Louisville and Lexington to watch races and bet on them.  This generates revenue both for the tracks and the commonwealth. Expanding slot machines within the tracks will only generate more revenue. People are going to bet that money and "waste it" as some are arguing, whether you have slot machines or not.  I support the proposal so long as the expansion is limited, and the concerns of Kentucky's track owners and associations are understood and considered when writing the legislation. 

United We Stand:  Do you support new taxes to close the Commonwealth’s deficit?

Vanderpool:  This is without a doubt one of the most difficult times in the history of our Commonwealth.  However, I do not think that new or higher taxes are the answer.  

I believe we need to examine what we are spending money on now, into what programs, and determine if the program is efficient; if not, we need to either fix the program, or reallocate the funds to programs that do work.  

If elected I will not stand for wasteful spending, but will support programs that bring new business to Kentucky, and enhance the lives of all Kentuckians.   

United We Stand:  Unlike some states, the heads of Kentucky’s highest levels of government [Cabinet Secretaries] are appointment by the Governor and are never questioned or scrutinized by lawmakers. Do you feel like the Executive Branch of Kentucky’s Government has any oversight? 

Vanderpool:  When we elect the governor into office we are placing our trust in his decision capabilities.  That means we also trust him/her to form a team with the best interest of the people in mind. With that being said I do believe the lawmakers, whom are also elected, should be able to review the qualifications of the people the governor appoints.  The only problem is oversight committees within the legislative branch cost the taxpayer’s money.  We have to ask ourselves is that extra spending worth it or should we just allow the governor we elect to make the decision within the boundaries of the executive branch. 

United We Stand:  In a recent study, Kentucky ranked 1st in the nation for child abuse. What do you intend to do about this? 

Vanderpool:  In a state in which I live and plan to serve as Representative this is by all means pathetic and unacceptable. Our children are our most precious assets and represent the future of our state and our country. Our states social workers and counselors need to be more aware of the communities in which they serve. They do not need to wait for the family members or neighbors to come to them with child abuse issues. They need to be more proactive in finding solutions before the problems happen. When need to show our families that have a history of child abuse of how much our children mean to the future of this country and help them with whatever problems they have that makes them resort to taking it out on the children. Bottom line child abuse will not be tolerated. 

United We Stand Follow-up:  Exactly, but they are not doing their jobs now, either because they are underfunded, have an unreasonable case load, or do not follow-up. However, neither the U.S. President nor our Governor (not to mention his Cabinet Secretaries) has to answer formal questioning by the Legislature, ever (unless being impeached). What is more alarming, is that U.S. Presidential and Gubernatorial press conferences are the only real questioning they ever face. Perhaps if they did face quarterly, or yearly "inquisition's" by the Legislature, people would be more informed and Government more transparent?   

United We Stand:  With each state being sovereign, the federal government has no direct authority over any state. Do you think Kentucky is as independent and ready to deal with disasters, public corruption, or any other situation a state may face? California, Texas, and Vermont are certainly more independent and ready; why isn't Kentucky? 

Vanderpool:  As a national disaster volunteer with the American Red Cross I have seen many disasters around this country. I think Kentucky is taking great strides in disaster preparation, but there is always room for improvement.

As far as corruption, most of the time our elected officials are the very seeds of corruption.  Kentucky is no stranger to corruption, and I support finally creating the Kentucky Bureau of Investigation by statute instead of the Kentucky Attorney General creating these special offices by executive order; the Legislature should determine the function of bureau's and offices instead of the Attorney General.   

I believe a Kentucky Bureau of Investigation should be divided into special departments to focus on public corruption, drug control enforcement, terrorism, forensic science, internet crimes against children, missing children, fraud against the Commonwealth (especially Medicaid fraud which costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year), and threats against public officials.  Finally, a Kentucky Bureau of Investigation should protect and investigate crimes against our elderly population in nursing homes around Kentucky.  The Kentucky State Police is currently our only statewide law enforcement agency; we are one of the only states without a statewide detective bureau "similar" to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

With such a statutory detective agency that has an appropriate budget; Kentucky would be a safer place.  The head of this agency should be nominated by the Attorney General, with conformation or denial from the Governor; this would prevent either of these Constitutional Officers from abusing the power of the bureau I have described.   

United We Stand:   Let's say you are a Kentucky Representative. What questions would you ask Secretary Janie Miller about Kentucky's response to the H1N1 crisis? What about her Commissioner at the Department for Public Health, William D. Hacker? 

Vanderpool:  First and foremost, do we have the necessary resources and supplies to keep our citizens from getting H1N1 or spreading it and if not, why?  Are our citizens able to get the vaccine and are the ones that cannot afford it being taken care of through other avenues?  Do we have programs within our schools and local community organizations that teach our children and public the value behind washing your hands and covering you mouth when you cough? 

United We Stand: What other changes and ideas do you have for Kentucky if you are elected to office? 

Vanderpool:   It never ceases to amaze me what we can accomplish when we work together in our communities. It's time to give our government back to the people so they can work more closely with their representatives and senators in making more effective solutions to the problems we face, those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action. I will never turn a deaf ear to the public in any community, I am running to serve, and that's what I plan to do if elected.


Rick said...

I live in Louisville but I believe it is the responsibility of every progressive person in the state to get this man out of office by supporting your campaign. Districts mean very little when a person files legislation attacking your entire community.

Donna said...

Good article and I agree Rick. What voting district I live in in Lexington how do you know what district u r in?

Anonymous said...

are you saying we should vote for him just because he is gay>

Anonymous said...

I haope we have can a gay person in the legislature no one is looking out for our interests there exceot KEF and the Louisville FC.

Anonymous said...

People, we need to not use Matthew's personal life to cloud our choices. Look at his platform,and take your deciaion from that, and that alone. eH stands for the people, ALL the people. He will have my vote.

Anonymous said...
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