Ramona Jade Thomas | Kentuckians For The Commonwealth

Ramona Jade Thomas

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?

I fully believe we can turn Kentucky around and make it a model of transformative progress for other states to look to. With strong progressives in government, we can right this ship and turn things around so that we won't rank near the bottom of just about every metric in the country.

We can protect the working class, overturning anti-union legislation and enacting new laws to protect worker's right to organize, increasing our minimum wage to not only lift many Kentuckians out of poverty, but also to stimulate our economy. If we protect and take care of our workers, everyone benefits.

We can expand medicaid as we transition to a strong single-payer healthcare system that provides every citizen with comprehensive healthcare coverage.

We can fully fund our public schools and ensure that we have the best teachers in the country, and that every student in the state receives a high quality education.

We can get hate and discrimination out of our laws, and protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

We can make Kentucky a shining beacon that stands out in the region, and we can do it without losing the things that make Kentucky unique.Did not respond.

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.

Yes, but I would go a step further and say that voting rights in Kentucky should be inviolable and you should not lose them for any reason as long as you remain a citizen of Kentucky. Voting is one of the most critical processes to a functioning democracy, and to say that, for any reason, someone does not deserve the right to vote, is to say that you don't want the democracy to function for them.Did not respond.

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've mentioned it before on Facebook, but I believe we need a comprehensive early voting system in the weeks leading up to election day, as well as easier absentee voting and extended polling hours, yes.

I oppose requiring a photo ID to vote unless we're prepared to make them completely free and make the process instant (which are things I think we should do). Otherwise it's an undue burden on the poor and disadvantaged.

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?

We need a stronger progressive tax system than we had in place prior to 2018, and we need to be willing to explore and implement every promising source of revenue.

One of the main things that can be done is increasing wages, both the minimum wage and reinstating the prevailing wage. A worker making $20/hr pays more in taxes than a worker making $10/hr, both in terms of income tax, but also sales taxes and other consumptive taxes. This is a benefit to the state that isn't discussed enough when talking about increasing the minimum wage. Higher wages for our workers means we can do more on our end as well, to fund investments in the state infrastructure and pension systems. These investments pay off with even more higher paying jobs. A rising tide lifts all ships.

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?

I agree with those policies, some of my best friends growing up were undocumented, through no fault of their own. I think that living in America, the land of immigrants, and opposing people who want to come here for a better life is hypocritical. (BTW, the Mayflower didn't land at an authorized port of entry)Did not respond.

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?

It's vitally important. It's the most pressing issue facing our society as a whole, and its importance can't be overstated. Ensuring that our future generations are not only able to survive, but thrive, on our planet is more important than anything.

Solutions to the problem have to be done with a people-first approach. Transform Eastern Kentucky into a solar panel and wind turbine production hub to inject much needed green industry into the state, also including passenger rail connecting rural Kentucky to the rest of the state.

Infrastructure investment is required up and down the board, to ensure that clean water is available, affordably, to every home in the state. We've let ourselves fall behind for too long, and neglected poorer communities.Did not respond.

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.

Firstly, we end our war on drugs. Get people who were wrongly imprisoned for things that should have never been illegal out of jail and expunge their records immediately. Retrain and repurpose police to better serve their communities, and get racist and bigoted police out of the force, even if that means starting all over.

Secondly, we need to seriously focus our investment in black and latinx communities and ensure that the people who live in those communities have input on what improvements we put into their community, and that existing community members benefit from those improvements rather than gentrifiers.Did not respond.

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?

Like I mentioned before, we need to get people out of jails whose crimes shouldn't have been illegal in the first place, including marijuana convictions and people struggling with addiction. We need to look at all of our laws and see where we've put corporate property rights ahead of people's personal rights, and deal with the economic conditions that are responsible for most crime to begin with, as well as increase availability of mental healthcare and addiction recovery programs.

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?

Absolutely. As a trans woman who is involved in the local LGBT community, we see the current efforts going on in Frankfort, and we're terrified for the future. I personally have already had to talk trans teens through suicidal periods, and the laws currently making their way through our state legislature seem to be tailor-made to cause more trans youth suicides.

We need a statewide fairness ordinance that goes even further, affording LGBTQ people the same rights available to other protected classes. We need healthcare laws that ensure that LGBT people have access to the medical care they need.

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: 

We need to expand medicaid and work to transition to a statewide single payer universal healthcare system. I envision expanding it in phases, so that taxes don't go up drastically in one fell swoop, but benefits increase more and more until comprehensive healthcare coverage is 100% taxpayer funded and free at point of service to everyone in the state.