By Jeff Noble / Staff writer
Two Laurel Countians will go up against each other for the open seat in the 21st Senate District on November 6.
At stake is the seat currently held by Sen. Tom Jensen (R-London), who decided not to seek re-election in order to run for Circuit Judge in Laurel and Knox counties. The 21st Senate District is made up of Laurel, Jackson, Estill, Powell and Menifee counties.
The race pits Democrat Amie Hacker, a London businesswoman in her first bid for public office, against Republican Albert Robinson of the Viva community, who formerly held the seat until he lost to Jensen in 2004.
Hacker, 34, was nominated by the Democrats last Tuesday at the Laurel County Courthouse. She and her husband own a mobile home sales center, as well as several mobile home parks in London. She noted her experience as a small business owner makes her a voice for working people.
“I have built my business from the ground up. I know business, I know budgets, I know how to work with people and I understand what everyday, working class people go through. I am one of those working class people. I’m here every day in my office,” Hacker said in London during in an interview last Friday.
Hacker, who is the mother of a five-year-old adopted son from Guatemala, and a step-daughter who’s married and lives in London, also states she’s making education one of her top priorities in the race.
“I want to be able to make sure that my son has a better education, and that everybody’s children have a better education. If teachers are given the resources, our children will be able to get that opportunity,” she said.
Another priority for Hacker is jobs, which she says go hand in hand with education.
“When I became a mother, I began to see things differently. Growing up as a child, economists said the generation growing up would be better than my parent’s generation. Now they’re saying my child’s generation will be no better than my generation. I don’t want us to move backwards…We need policies that foster start-up businesses, and policies that spur growth in existing Kentucky businesses,” Hacker stated.
In addition, Hacker pointed out the need to increase resources in the district’s five counties to help combat the issue of drugs.
“I do believe we have a drug problem in the district. We have a great sheriff in this county that is doing a great job tackling the drug problem. If there were more resources available throughout the district, the drug problem can be better addressed.
In her interview, Hacker stressed she wanted people to look past party lines and vote for the person they believe can make the district a better place.
“I feel if my opponent is sent to Frankfort, he’ll send us backwards…I’m not a politician. I’m not worried about my pension plan, or make slick business deals. I have no hidden agenda. I felt like this was my calling. I’m excited to get out there, meet people, hear their concerns, listen to them, and find out how I can help them. In this capacity working for people in Frankfort, I can help change thousands of people’s lives for the better,” she said.
Robinson, 73, was nominated by the Republicans on August 16 at the Laurel County Courthouse. He is a real estate broker, auctioneer and farmer, who stressed he has 33 years of legislative experience— over 25 years in the General Assembly, and almost eight years as a legislative assistant. He was first elected in 1971 to the state House of Representatives, and later served in the State Senate.
“Seniority in the legislature is definitely an asset. It’s important, especially with the redistricting coming up. Experience gets you the positions and the assignments. That can help the district, and southeastern Kentucky. It helps get action done,” Robinson said last Friday during an interview in London.
Saying he’s a friend of small business, Robinson noted he’s running his campaign based on four principles.
“My motto is ‘God, Gun, Country and Family.’ I believe the government’s judicial system was formed based on the Ten Commandments. I was the prime sponsor and got it posted on a Senate joint resolution, which requires state officials to inform people that they may post the Ten Commandments in public places. They are historical documents,” he said.
Robinson added he is a right-to-life supporter, who has been endorsed by the Kentucky Right to Live Association in previous campaigns. During the interview, he showed a letter from the association dated last Thursday, saying he has been endorsed by them again in his current race.
“I was instrumental in the marriage amendment, which states marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said.
Robinson, who said he is “pro-gun, pro-military, and pro-first responders, also listed other endorsements in past campaigns.
“I’ve been endorsed by the NRA (National Rifle Association) and other groups, and I played a key role in helping to pass the conceal and carry permit. After it was passed, I got the first permit issued in Laurel County. I’ve always been endorsed by small, independent businesses, and I’ve received the ‘Taxpayers’ Best Friend’ Award. I support the working people. I support veterans wholeheartedly. And I’m a social and fiscal conservative, and I practice Christian principles,” he stated.
In addition, Robinson said he’s “very much opposed” to two issues — the Affordable Care Act, also referred to as “Obamacare, saying, “Yes, it does affect Kentucky, and yes, state legislators do have a role to play in this issue.” — and the expansion of casino gambling in Kentucky, adding, “People who are poor and in desperation wouldn’t use their much-needed money for food and provisions. Instead they would us it on gambling. It’s very addictive.”