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SHELBYVILLE - Despite a sparse crowd, the candidates for the 20th District State Senate seat were ready and willing to go at the recent Kentucky Farm Bureau forum at the Stratton Center.
All four candidates - Republicans David Glauber, Bullitt County, and Paul Hornback, Shelby County, and Democrats David Eaton, Shelby, and John Spainhour, Bullitt - turned out to define their positions on topics ranging from agriculture to education and from taxes to infrastructure.
And it perhaps was the only opportunity citizens will have to see all four candidates in one setting in Shelby County. Republican and Democratic leaders bring in candidates for their parties, but bipartisan gatherings are rare.
This one included planned questions and no interaction with those in the crowd or the media. Each candidate was given two minutes for an opening statement, two minutes to answer questions and three minutes for closing remarks, and the evening moved at a very brisk pace.
Each candidate found his niche´ inside the questions to explain his main points.
Hornback, a farmer, drew the first spot, and in his opening and closing remarks he showed he’s about smaller government and letting the people decide.
“The government isn’t there to create jobs and spend every dollar that comes through,” he said. “The government is there to provide essential services and invest money wisely in the community. The government has to settle down and get some stability in the system. I want to listen to you and see what you think.”
He was also well versed in the several agriculture questions, supporting the Kentucky Livestock Care Standards Board and Senate Bill 105 and the continuation of sending 50 percent of the Tobacco Settlement Trust back to
“If you could see a study of the trickle down effect of these dollars [in agriculture from the Tobacco Settlement Trust] I think you’d be shocked at how much they’ve helped Kentucky,” he said. “We’ve become number one in livestock east of the Mississippi when people didn’t want our cattle. That’s in large part because of that money spent to help improve our state’s cattle.”
Spainhour drew the second spot on the panel, and he too grew up in farming and still resides on a farm in Shepherdsville. However, he also has a law practice.
He says he’s sure no one wants to raise taxes, but Spainhour said it’s more about delivering.
“Everybody is going to tell you they’re a fiscal conservative,” he said. "None of us want to raise taxes, but what’s more important is tell me how you’re going to deliver services back to the district.
“I know what it means to meet a payroll, pay taxes and manage a business. That, with my experience explaining government and the law, will help this district.”
Spainhour also pledged to put his Democrat roots behind him.
“If it’s good for our district, whether it’s a Republican idea or a Democrats, I’m all for it,” he said. “We have to put our partisanship aside and get to the issues.”
Spainhour also focused on the tax issues, saying that Kentucky’s taxes need to be amended.
“They can be simplified, we can relax on our consumption taxes,” he said.
“The danger when you start this [reform] is increasing the take instead of looking at what’s really best for the state.”
David Eaton, the Simpsonville city administrator, comes in with the only government experience. Eaton has been with Simpsonville for five years, was mayor of Shelbyville for eight years and was on the Shelbyville City Council for 10 years.
His experience, he said, would be very beneficial, and he also committed himself fully to the job as the District 20 seat.
“That local experience will be incredibly valuable in Senate situations,” he said. “And I know how to work with local governments to get what they want.
And I’m the only one who has committed to quitting my other job to focus solely on the Senate. Gone are the days where you can vote for three months and take the next nine off.”
Eaton will also call on his 24 years in education as experience. “I am the only candidate with experience in education, and we all know how important a strong education is for our next generation.”
He also noted how he will support any advances in education. “We need to do everything we can to get students as far as we can and beyond graduation,” he said. “Technical schools are so valuable because they teach trades and there’s nothing wrong with being a plumber or carpenter. But we also need to promote education.
“We can talk all we want about jobs and growth, but without a solid educational system those things won’t happen. We’re already ahead in this district, but I will do everything in my power to support education."
David Glauber drew the final spot on the panel, and the businessman from Bullitt County made his main stance very clear.
“I’m a Republican, I’m pro-gun and pro-life and I’m for small government,” he said. “And most importantly I’m for individual decision. If I smoke I’m going to get cancer, if I eat foods full of trans fats then I’m going to get fat and if I borrow more money than I can afford, I’m going to lose my house. I don’t need t he government to tell me what I can and can’t do. My decisions, good or bad, are mine.”
Glauber answered each question with a focus on the government’s role and how it could be lessened, and he said simple answers aren’t enough.
“I’m not a team player. I’m not going to go along with something just because everybody else is and that’s the simple thing to do,” he said. “I’m an analyst. That’s what I do. I can’t agree or disagree with something, I have to see all sides of it.”
Glauber also focused on removing more government from education and the economy.
“What we’re trying to do is take all our children and have the government educate them,” he said. “And government can’t do anything as well as private business.”
Glauber’s solution is to create tax breaks for private school children to help create more room and funds in public schools.
And for jobs, Glauber said to look inward, not to the government.
“If I’m a small business owner, I’m going to hirer someone, not the government,” he said. “This recession is going to end because our small business owners are hiring people and we’re making it easier for them.”