State senate candidates address voters at forum

Published 10:21 am Tuesday, October 11, 2022

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At the Clark County Extension Office on Thursday evening, the race to see who will represent the Kentucky Senate in the 28th District took place.

Incumbent Senator Ralph Alvarado, a Republican, squared off against Democratic write-in candidate Josh Buckman to determine Clark County’s next senator.

“I’m running because I’m concerned about our children’s future,” said Buckman in his opening statement. “I’m also running because I’m concerned about public services. My job requires me to deal with those every day … I’ve often seen those issues neglected.” Buckman is currently a medical social worker.

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Alvarado, a physician, is currently the medical director at Isaiah’s House Treatment Center.

“During my time in office, I’ve filed dozens of bills and managed to have 43 of those bills become law,” said Alvarado in his opening statement. “I’ve routinely communicated through legislative updates in The Winchester Sun, Facebook, and numerous town hall meetings. Promises made, [and] promises kept.”

Both candidates were asked a series of questions.

The first regarded Kentucky legalizing marijuana.

Alvarado said he has concerns about it.

“I have a concern with it. I can tell you that the mental health community statewide and nationwide has a problem with the trend that we’re seeing from other states doing this,” said Alvarado. “Children under the age of 25, if they use heavily, have severe mental illness as they get older, [including] high percentages of schizophrenia. We also got a lot of concerns about increases in COPD, cancers that are being caused by this, and a lot of the research is showing this.”

Buckman said it is something the state should do.

“What we have to acknowledge is eventually this will happen in Kentucky … This is an opportunity because we can use money to spend it on education, to fund substance use treatment, to support some of those activities that I’ve often mentioned,” said Buckman. “We have seen some benefits to medicinal marijuana because there have been some studies about pain, and how it can help … People avoid chronic pain.”

The second question was whether Kentucky was effective at managing funds. Buckman said there was room for the state to improve. “

I think our state could do a little better. I’d like to see more opportunity to use our state resources to spend on our schools to create more opportunities,” Buckman said. “I do want to make sure that our resources are budgeted well.” Buckman added that addressing medical debt and pre-kindergarten programs were also points of interest.

Alvarado said the state has done an excellent job managing its finances.

“I think we’ve done a really good job. We’re sitting on almost $2 billion on our budget reserve trust fund,” Alvarado said. “That enabled us to be able to act on things like the tornado that we had out in western Kentucky [and] flooding in eastern Kentucky. If we didn’t have those monies in reserve, we couldn’t have helped them out.”

Among other points, Alvarado added that money was available to provide tax reduction and Medicaid services.

Addressing how the legislature could help with affordable housing, Alvarado responded first by focusing on the need for development.

“We can do things with tax credits to be able to help with that … There are a lot of organizations that take advantage of that, but ultimately a lot of those conditions with local communities is going to take on zoning,” he said. “We have to attract a lot of businesses to come here. You don’t want to have empty houses; you want to have people working.”

Investing money toward infrastructure was mentioned by Alvarado as well.

Buckman answered next.

“What I’d like to do is talk to as many people and organizations as possible … And find out what we can do to attract more housing to the area,” Buckman said. “I believe right now that we have a severe housing crisis in this country, and we need to look at any option that we can to bring more housing to our residents.”

Buckman added that affordable entry-level homes were another focus.

To some delight from the crowd, the candidates were last asked what makes Clark County best.

“I think the downtown is wonderful, [and] the restaurants are fantastic,” Buckman said. “I love the people here. I just want to continue the progress and make Clark County and all the counties of District 28 a better place.”

Alvarado answered the final question second.

“It’s the people of this community. For those of us who might disagree on issues [and] have different views on how things get done, this community comes together and works together,” Alvarado said. “People look at us in that kind of light