Chapter: Central Kentucky

The Central Kentucky chapter is one of the oldest chapters within KFTC. We are a diverse group of people who care about making our communities healthy and safe for all people. Our chapter members are interested in a range of issues, but currently we are working on educating folks about democracy through our restoration of voting rights campaign and voter empowerment work. We're also focusing on economic injustices within Lexington through our economic justice survey project and pushing our city leaders to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund to address the afforable housing crisis that Lexington currently faces. Please join us at our next chapter meeting or at one of our upcoming events. Meet other chapter members to learn about the exciting work we're doing and how you can be a part of it!

Recent Activities

Danny Cotton - We were lucky to have him

Danny Cotton, a KFTC leader and member of the Central KY Chapter and the statewide Voter Empowerment Strategy Team passed away earlier this month.  He was 27 years old.

He was a writer, an activist, a great thinker, and a great friend to many of us.  

KFTC first got to meet Danny at Fancy Farm, a political event in far Western KY.  Even before we met, he was holding a big sign opposing a massive state subsidy for Peabody Coal.

After that, Danny became one of our most prolific citizen lobbyists, visiting Frankfort day after day to talk to legislators about a range of issues important to him, though he focused voting rights issues.

And he returned to Fancy Farm and dozens of other events every year, usually in his trademark green KFTC t-shirt with its sleeves cut off.  

He was also a KFTC intern while he studied at UK, and helped to form the UK KFTC group which is still doing great things today.

Danny also loved registering and mobilizing voters and he was good at it, participating in large scale voter registration events in Lexington that brought in hundreds of new voters to build up our Democracy.  

After his funeral over a dozen former UK KFTC members who went to school with Danny gathered for a cook out, to listen to some of Danny's favorite music (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Led Zeppelin), read some of the things he'd written, told stories about Danny's life.

Stories shared from around the room shifted from off-color stories of shenanigans and misadventures to moments of profound levity, admiration, regret, and hope - the kind of sense one might get from reading Mark Twain or talking to Danny Cotton.

"Danny was a good friend and a good man. His loyalty and friendship was always something I could count on. His passion and empathy will truly be missed" - John Ghaelian

"He was a genuinely kind and understanding person -- the kind that we need more of in this world." - Wesley Robinson

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Rally for Immigration Reform and Legalization with Dignity

gDSC_0336Last week, a number of Ketucky Immigrant Rights groups got together with allies like KFTC and held the Rally for Immigration Reform and Legalization with Dignity.  The event was timed in solidarity with numerous other immigrants' rights rallies happening across the US including a main event in Washington, DC.

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Former Felon Voices - Mantell Stevens, Lexington

Mantell Stevens 2In an attempt to share more of the stories from former felons across the Commonwealth, we’re presenting a series of short interviews every few weeks on our blog and in our newsletter balancing the scales.

Mantell Stevens is a life-long Kentuckian who's a smart guy, works hard, volunteers at Imani Baptist Church, and enjoys the outdoors. “I’m really a country boy. I like getting muddy and riding four-wheelers.”

But what he can't do is vote.  Though he's telling his story to help change that.  

"I was born and raised here in Lexington and been here all my life. I've lived on the Northside of town for the past 33 years. Growing up life was pretty good. I grew up with both parents in the household. I was fortunate enough to witness a good marriage between my parents. I’m really grateful for that."

"In the early years I was into theatre. In elementary school I was a student in SCAPA - the school of creative and performing arts student. When I transitioned to a public middle school is when I started to have more behavior problems – coming from a structured environment to a more chaotic environment. And struggling with a lot of identity issues coming from middle school to high school. I would get called “white boy” a lot because I had light skin, I talked “different” and tucked my shirt in. So, in my neighborhood I felt I had to prove myself and started getting into trouble. I was a big guy so I started trying to prove that I could intimidate people and that I wasn’t soft like they thought I was."

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Central Kentucky Chapter celebrates at monthly meeting

The Central Kentucky KFTC Chapter held their monthly chapter meeting on Thursday, March 21st at 7 p.m.

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Lexington-Fayette urban county government comes out in support of restoring voting rights for former felons

As folks already know, HB 70, Representative Jesse Crenshaw's bill that would restore voting rights to most former felons who've served their time, has passed the Kentucky House seven years in a row, each year with broad bipartisan support. Most recently the vote was 75 to 25. Unfortunately when it's arrived in the Senate it hasn't received a hearing or vote. KFTC members and allies are working diligently to educate the Kentucky Senate about HB 70 and the positive effect it would have on communities across the commonwealth. And chapters have begun to develop strategies for involving their local governments.

Starting approximately a year ago, the central Kentucky chapter began lobbying their city council to pass a resolution in support of voting rights for former felons. 

The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council is made up of 12 members who represent city districts, including three at-large council members of which one is the vice mayor. One of the chapter's first meetings was with Vice Mayor Linda Gorton who said that if KFTC members were serious about passing a resolution through the council then they should make a good faith effory to meet with every council member (and the mayor) to educate them about the issue.

So that's what chapter members did, and over the last year they met with nearly every member of the council, including Mayor Jim Gray and his aides to explain how the LFUCG could help towards building a more vibrant and healthy democracy. The lobby meetings were a great experience for chapter members because not only did it give them practice talking about the campaign but it helped them get to know how their city government worked and who the council members were. Their meeting with council member Ford went incredibly well, he was very supportive, so they asked him immediately if he'd sponsor the resolution, to which he agreed.

Their lobbying efforts paid off when last Thursday the city council voted unanimously to pass a resolution stating that not only do they believe that people who’ve served their time deserve the right to vote again, but also that the General Assembly should give the citizens of the commonwealth the chance to vote on the issue.

KFTC members and allies packed the council chambers and folks gave over an hour of testimony in support of the resolution.

KFTC member and former felon Tayna Fogle talked about her past as both a UK basketbal player and a person who fell into drugs. "I served a ten year prison sentence, I did my time. I made a mistake but I am not a mistake."

KFTC member Tedi Smith-Robillard, who received a pardon from the governor, shared with the council her commitment to justice. “I am 73 years old and until the day I die I will work for justice and for people to have the right to vote."

The resolution while symbolic (the city Lexington city council can’t change Kentucky’s constitution or give people their voting rights back), does send a powerful message to the General Assembly.

"We are counting on you to do the right thing. - Rev. Joseph Owens at the Lexington city council meeting.

Click here for a copy of the council meeting docket which contains the language of the resolution (number 41)

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Chapter Feature:

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Regular Meetings:

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Episcopal Mission House
203 E. 4th St.
Lexington, KY 40508
Monthly Chapter Meeting

We meet every 3rd Thursday of the month at 7 :00PM. at the Episcopal Mission House at the corner of 4th St. and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd (across the street from the Living Arts & Science Center) in Lexington.

Meetings are open to the public and all are welcome to attend.

Chapter Organizer:

Beth Howard
250 Plaza Dr.
Suite #4
Lexington, KY 40508
(386) 299-2921