Garrett Dean | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Garrett Dean

Political party: 
Question 1: 
What’s your vision for Kentucky? How will the lives of Kentuckians be improved as a result of your time in office?

My vision for Kentucky is simple: it’s one where economic opportunity, healthcare, safety, and education are available at the highest level regardless of race, gender, social class, or zip code. I know I speak for many in my part of Louisville when I say it’s time the South End gets its due.

The interesting thing about our race in the South End is that while District 37 will elect a Democrat, Republicans hold a supermajority in both Kentucky’s House and Senate. It will take a candid, forthcoming, honest, relatable individual to work with the controlling Republican members in any meaningful way.

And that individual is me. I’m not an attorney, I have no ties to the political establishment, and as an engineer I love nothing more than working with a diverse team to solve complex problems. A new voice, I am the candidate to put aside partisan politics, make the tough decisions, and fight for the South End’s fair share.

Question 2: 
Even after Governor Beshear's December 2019 executive order, over 170,000 Kentuckians with felonies in their past are still ineligible to vote. Do you support a constitutional amendment to automatically restore voting rights to all Kentuckians with felonies in their past once they've served their time, probation, and parole? Please explain.

It is time for Kentucky to pass a constitutional amendment automatically restoring voting rights to all felons once they have served their time, probation, and parole. Most states have already done this. An executive order is a good start, but we are not finished.

Question 3: 

What is your view on modernizing state election laws? Specifically, do you support allowing early voting, mail-in ballots, same-day voter registration, extended hours at polling locations, offering ballots in multiple languages, and other election reforms? Do you support legislation requiring that Kentucky voters present a photo ID on election day even though many Kentuckians do not have that kind of ID? Why or why not?

I support all actions to make voting more accessible to registered voters. Voter fraud is extraordinarily rare, and a voter ID law will only serve to deter registered voters from casting a ballot.

Question 4: 

Kentucky has a tax code that does not raise enough revenue to meet the Commonwealth’s budgetary needs – a problem that was made worse by the legislature's tax shift of 2018. After years of budget cuts, the funding for pensions, public education, infrastructure, and other essential programs have reached dangerous levels of disinvestment. How would you work to create a more equitable state tax structure – where everyone pays their fair share – that raises adequate revenue, fights poverty, and invests in Kentucky’s under-resourced communities and the services we all need?

By all accounts, both Louisville and Kentucky are short on funds. Mismanagement is certainly a contributing factor, but our politicians need to have the courage to make tough decisions when faced with cutting vital services in our community. The long-term health of Louisville and Kentucky is at stake, and we need decision-makers who will prioritize their community above all else when considering additional sources of revenue.

Question 5: 

Many Kentucky’s local governments have a policy that people will not be questioned about immigration status by local authorities, and that local police will only assist federal agents in enforcing immigration laws when there is a warrant signed by a judge or a risk of violence. What is your view of these types of policies and what would you do to expand support and resources toward our immigrant population, undocumented or otherwise?

Priority No. 1 is opposing Kentucky Senate Bill No. 1. Ultimately, providing an easier path to US citizenship is in everyone’s best interest. As a platoon leader, I will never forget celebrating the Naturalization of a young Soldier in my formation who immigrated to America from Mexico. It was immensely meaningful for him to finally be recognized as a US citizen despite wearing a camouflage uniform with “U.S. ARMY” embroidered on his chest.

Question 6: 

Is acting to address the climate crisis a priority for you? What policies do you support 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? And what policies would you support to ensure that all Kentuckians have clean air and water, no matter the color of our skin, income, or zip code?

While addressing climate change is a top priority, I am immediately concerned for rural Kentuckians that still do not have access to clean, affordable tap water (ex: Martin County). It is easy for us Louisvillians to take for granted our award-winning tap water but a select few in our Commonwealth are not so fortunate; these Kentuckians are no better off than the residents of Flint, MI. We owe it to them to resolve this issue immediately.

Question 7: 

What is the role of the Kentucky legislature in opposing white supremacy, addressing racial inequality and supporting racial justice for Black people, Indigenous people, Latinx people, immigrants, those who are undocumented, and all people of color in our state? Please identify at least two policy initiatives you would propose while in office to address racial and systemic inequalities.

The most significant action the Kentucky legislature could take to address racial inequality, empower minorities and stifle discrimination is to fully fund public education at every level. A proud product of public education, I am a better citizen for having developed in a diverse environment alongside a variety of backgrounds and cultures.

Although resource intensive, providing high-quality universal pre-K and full-day kindergarten should be Kentucky’s 10-year goal. Studies show that engaging young minds – both academically and socially – has a dramatic effect on cognitive and future learning ability. This is a national trend and Kentucky cannot afford to be behind the curve; research shows these programs have the greatest impact on low-income and minority families.

Question 8: 

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 make up 8.3 percent of the state population but 21 percent of the state’s incarcerated population. Are you committed to ending mass incarceration in Kentucky? Why or why not? If elected, what will you do to make strides toward ending mass incarceration and reinvesting resources into the communities most impacted by this system?

My wife, Kaitlin, served as a Jefferson County Assistant Public Defender for two years. During this time, she experienced first-hand the policies disproportionately affecting our low income and minority populace, which stem largely from outdated and prejudicial laws built into our justice system. I would follow the lead of other states and advocate strongly for legislation eliminating the cash bail system, relying instead on pretrial detention based on court and pretrial risk assessment. Awaiting trial behind bars simply because one cannot afford bail, while allowing the wealthy to effectively buy their freedom, is only one example of the inequities built into our justice system.

Question 9: 

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

Much like the Fairness Ordinance signed into law in Louisville in 2004, the state of Kentucky needs to follow suit. While I am optimistic that the US Supreme Court will rule in mid-2020 that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes protection for the LGBTQ community in matters of employment, I will advocate for additional measures here locally. It is simply the right thing to do.

Question 10: 

Nearly 400,000 low-income Kentuckians qualified for health care – including vision, dental and mental health – for the first time under the Affordable Care Act. But there are major challenges here in Kentucky. The Bevin administration failed to respond to Kentucky’s Hepatitis A outbreak, local health departments are underfunded and are slated to lose about a third of their workers, and the legislature has recently passed a bill restricting access to reproductive health. The legislature has a role in getting Kentucky on track for better health. What would you to build on the progress of Medicaid expansion and to ensure that all Kentuckians have access to quality, affordable health care?

Answer 10: 

Well, there’s a lot packed into this question, and there are certainly a plethora of health issues facing our Commonwealth. I’ll start by saying we have a duty to empower Kentuckians to make their own pregnancy decisions – including access to safe and legal abortion – as established in Roe v. Wade.

I would also like to take this opportunity to talk about mental health. As a combat veteran, I know those that struggle daily. The military has done well to address mental health within its ranks in the last decade and it’s time for society to do the same. One way Kentucky can do this is to ensure local health departments are staffed and equipped to handle the demands of their counties and municipalities.

While expanding quality health care to all Kentuckians is certainly the goal, we are largely at the mercy of federal health care reform due to eligibility restrictions and the cost of funding such an endeavor. Until then, controlled expansion of Medicaid within federal limits, and thereby insuring Kentucky’s most vulnerable citizens, is the easy answer.