Heather French Henry

Political party: 
Democrat
Question 1: 

What is your vision for strengthening civic participation in Kentucky? How will our commonwealth be better in four years if you are elected?

Kentucky needs to make civics a required class. The state must partner with our teachers to provide them the tools and programing to educate our students about the impact government has on their community.

Kentucky needs to make it easier to vote. It is important to expand Election Day hours. Too many voters struggle to make it to vote because of other obligations. In addition, the state should extend the early voting period, and require county clerks to stay open on weekends during that early voting period. Kentucky needs to make it easier to vote by mail—what’s better than voting in your pajamas from the comfort of your own home? The Secretary of State’s office should do more across the state to register voters by targeting residents through social media, and holding voter registration drives across the state.

Question 2: 

How does your background qualify you for serving in this office? Please provide examples of your advocacy to protect and promote civic engagement in Kentucky.

I’ve been a local, state and national advocate for military veterans and their families for over 20 years. I served both Governor Beshear and Governor Bevin as the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs serving over 300,000 veterans in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I oversaw nearly 900 employees serving in 4 state veterans' nursing centers, 5 state veterans' cemeteries, statewide veterans' benefits and programs that served women veterans and homeless veterans.  I developed legislative policy for the department and assisting with the overall strategy for department's budget of nearly $100 million.  

During my year of service as Miss America 2000, I worked with Congress, held strategic meetings with the White House, and visited veterans in hospitals, homeless shelters and veteran service organizations across the nation.  The late Congressman Lane Evans and the late Senator Paul Wellstone passed the Heather French Henry Homeless Veterans Assistance Act in honor of my advocacy work on the behalf of veterans.

I organized veterans’ healthcare seminars across the nation to increase awareness for veteran-related combat health problems. In addition, I developed a strategy to build a World War I centennial commemoration to honor those who fought for our freedoms. Through the Kentucky Poppy Project, I worked with schools across the nation to honor those who fought for this country during the Great War.

Together with my husband, Steve, we founded the KY Prostate Cancer Coalition, which provides free prostate cancer screenings at the KY State Fair.  We established the Rosemary Clooney Museum in Augusta, KY featuring the famous White Christmas Collection, and focusing on the work that she did for Kentucky.  I assist with the Future Fund Land Trust in their efforts the save over 6,000 acres in the Floyds Fork area in Jefferson and Bullitt Counties.

Question 3: 

What is your view on modernizing state election laws? Specifically, do you support allowing early voting, mail-in ballots, extended hours at polling locations, offering ballots in multiple languages and other election reforms? Please explain.

I support allowing early voting, allowing vote by mail ballots, extending hours at polling locations, and offering ballots in multiple languages.

Question 4: 

If you become Secretary of State, what will you do to increase voter registration and turnout?

To increase voter registration, it’s important for the Secretary of State’s office to perform voter registration drives at high schools and colleges across the state. It is important for the office to have a presence at citizenship ceremonies. I support the automatic restoration of voting rights to felons (further explanation in the answer to question 5).

I support expanding early voting, making it easier to vote by mail, extending hours at polling locations, and offering ballots in multiple languages to increase turnout.

Question 5: 

Do you support a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to the tens of thousands of Kentuckians with felonies in their past who have completed their sentence? Please explain.

I support the idea of automatically restoring voting rights to felons upon completion of their sentences except for those convicted of murder, a sex crime, or bribery in an election.