Adam Edelen | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Adam Edelen

Political party: 
Democrat
Question 1: 

What’s your vision for Kentucky? How will our commonwealth be better in four years if you’re elected?

I believe in a Kentucky that provides a path to opportunity, health and economic security for all. A Kentucky that empowers those who’ve faced adversity, systematic exclusion from opportunity, or been made to believe they won’t amount to anything because of where they were born, their race, their sex, who they love or their parents’ income. 

As Governor, I will take real steps to put us on a path to making that a reality. That means reinvesting in and transforming our public education system, being realistic about climate change and our energy future, and supporting a living wage. It also means tackling the hard problems like job education, health care and investment in communities across the state that have been told again and again that there’s no hope. 

I’m the only candidate with a record of success in fighting corruption, creating jobs and improving government across our Commonwealth. I’m ready to do that as governor.

Question 2: 

If you are elected Governor, what steps will you take to encourage transparency, media access and meaningful public participation in decisions made by state government?

Despite very little room to go but up from the current administration when it comes to transparency and public participation, our next governor must do much more. Kentuckians deserve access to knowledge about their government’s actions and decision-making, as well as meaningful input in those 

First, the next Governor of Kentucky must work with a legislature undergoing the state’s redistricting process for both Congress and the state legislature. I will champion measures to ensure openness in the process and an independent commission if necessary.

Second, I will support laws that require disclosures for executive branch lobbying similar to those required for legislative lobbying that will help prevent the kind of pay-to-play lobbying and bribery we’ve seen in the past. 

Third, I’ll set a high standard for openness to the media and willingness to answer questions both easy and tough. I know that the most basic transparency comes in a willingness to be honest with Kentuckians, but don’t just take my word for it – even in the short period of this campaign, I’ve been the only candidate willing to take clear stances on issues from women’s health to climate change.

Question 3: 

Do you believe that we have an obligation and opportunity to act on climate change? What actions would you take to ensure that solutions, such as clean energy jobs and reducing high energy bills, benefit all Kentuckians, including low-income communities, communities of color, and those who are most impacted by the changing climate?

I am the only candidate for governor of Kentucky whose ever made it a clear part of their campaign that we must act on climate change. This is both a moral imperative for our environment and future and an economic imperative for our state that we cannot afford to ignore.

Question 4: 

Do you support a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to tens of thousands of Kentuckians with felonies in their past who have completed their full sentence? If the state legislature remains locked on this issue, would you use executive power to restore voting rights to all Kentuckians with felonies in their past who are currently restricted from voting? Please explain.

Yes. I will put my full support behind an amendment to restore voting rights to all Kentuckians who have served out their full sentence, and if the legislature won’t take this common sense action, I’ll act use my own pen to restore voting rights.

Question 5: 

Will you protect or even expand access to Medicaid for the nearly 400,000 low-income Kentuckians who qualified for health care – including vision, dental and mental health – for the first time under the Affordable Care Act? What is your view of the current administration’s efforts to limit access to Medicaid, including new co-pay requirements, restrictions on vision and dental coverage and work requirements?

I absolutely and unequivocally support protection of Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion and will halt all attempts undertaken by the current administration to strip Kentuckians of that care. The only way we can succeed as a state is if people in every community and at every income level have access to preventive and diagnostic care. Co-pays and so-called “work requirements” increase government bureaucracy, put more barriers between the poor and access to care and reduce coverage in our state.

As a former state auditor, I’m intimately familiar with the challenges of healthcare access, quality, and cost in our state. Early in the rollout of expanded Medicaid, I was responsible for holding MCOs accountable for timely payments and limiting disruptions to mental health care in Kentucky. As governor, I will bring that same knowledge and dedication to bear in ensuring that not just Medicaid, but our entire system of care is geared towards helping provide the highest quality care to the most people at reasonable cost.

Question 6: 

What is the Governor’s role in opposing white supremacy, addressing racial inequality and supporting racial justice for black people, Latinx people, immigrants, those who are undocumented, and all people of color in Kentucky? Please identify at least two policy initiatives you would propose as Governor to address racial and systemic inequalities.

When there are communities that have been systematically excluded, kept down, or marginalized, it is the duty of our political leaders to take active steps to address it. Unfortunately leaders today too often choose to capitalize on division and hatred.

One clear policy I will immediately support is to restore voting rights for felons. Kentucky’s current law means that one in four black Kentuckians lacks the right to vote. If this is not a quintessential example of systematic exclusion of people of color I don’t know what is.

Question 7: 

Kentucky has a tax code that does not raise enough revenue to meet the Commonwealth’s budgetary needs. After years of budget cuts, public education, infrastructure, state worker pensions and other essential programs have reached dangerous levels of disinvestment. What solutions would you support to raise the necessary revenue for the public investments Kentuckians need and deserve?

Kentuckians are tired of having the failures of our tax system being borne by working families, students, and the local governments that now face daunting shortfalls because of mismanagement at the state level. Further, the shift to a greater reliance on sales taxes without a corresponding increase in supports for low-income Kentuckians only increases inequality in our state.

We need to get serious about revenue opportunities that will both allow us to build the government and public education system Kentuckians deserve while raising funds in a fair and equitable manner. Terrific first steps in this direction include legalized gaming and an increase in the cigarette tax. But we must also make harder choices. I am open to working with Kentucky legislators and stakeholders to examine other solutions, including an adjustment in the property tax cap or an additional tax bracket on high earners in the commonwealth.

Question 8: 

Do you support Kentucky’s public workers having a quality public pension? What do you consider to be a quality public pension?

It’s a non-negotiable starting point that the public employees who have met their obligations and paid into their public pension plan deserve that pension. Beyond that, however, I am committed to taking steps to ensure that current and future public workers have access to a pension plan that provides a secure retirement.

Question 9: 

What will you do to support LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer) Kentuckians? What will you do to protect people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity?

I was Kentucky’s first statewide elected official to endorse marriage equality when it had an abysmal approval rating. I took that stance not because it was popular, but because I believe that no matter what side of the tracks you were born to, the color of your skin or who you love, that you deserve an equal opportunity to realize the American dream. Today, a majority of Kentuckians support marriage equality and I’m proud to have been there along the way.

Question 10: 

Kentucky has the ninth highest incarceration rate in the nation, is second in the nation for incarcerating women, and has the second highest rate in the country of children separated from a parent due to incarceration. In addition, black Kentuckians makeup 8.3% of the state population but 21% of the state’s incarcerated population. Are you committed to ending mass incarceration in Kentucky? If elected, what will you do to make strides toward ending mass incarceration?

Kentucky is desperately in need of common sense reforms to build a more fair and equitable criminal justice system. Mass incarceration hurts Kentucky’s budget and economy; but, more importantly, it harms our families and communities with an unequal impact on communities of color. Confronting this fact requires reforms at all stages of the criminal justice process. 

First, we must implement a fair pre-trial detention system that doesn’t lock up tens of thousands of Kentuckians for weeks or months just because they can’t make bail. 

Second, we need sentencing reform and a justice system that focuses on public safety and rehabilitation, not long or unjustifiable penalties for non-violent drug and property crimes. To this end, I’ll support a review of all mandatory minimum sentences and sentencing practices in the Commonwealth. 

Third, incarceration should provide real rehabilitative and transformative opportunities. I want incarcerated Kentuckians to re-enter their communities not hardened, but healed and prepared for productivity. I will support increased opportunity for inmates as well as an end to our use of private prisons.