Kentucky Tonight: Democratic Primary Candidates - 1st and 3rd Congressional Districts

by John Gregory | 05/13/14 12:51 PM

Candidates running in the Democratic primaries for the U.S. House of Representatives from the Kentucky’s 1st and 3rd Congressional Districts appeared on Monday's edition of Kentucky Tonight. You can read a recap of what 1st District contenders Wesley Bolin and Charles Hatchett had to say below.

To see a summary of the discussion with 3rd District challenger Ray Pierce, click here.

Kentucky’s 1st Congressional District comprises all or part of 35 counties in central, southern and western Kentucky. It includes the cities of Hopkinsville, Henderson, Paducah, Madisonville, Murray, and Campbellsville. It is currently served by Republican incumbent Ed Whitfield.

Wesley Bolin was born in Henderson and grew up in Murray. He is pursuing a history degree through studies at Yale University and Murray State University, where he works full time for the school's special collections library.

Originally from Paducah, Charles Hatchett has lived most of his life in Marshall County. He has worked as a truck driver and security guard, is a real estate broker and auctioneer, and has raised livestock. Hatchett was the Democratic nominee in the 1st Congressional District race in 2010 and 2012.

Minimum Wage: Both candidates support the effort to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Bolin says such an increase would move thousands of Kentucky families off food stamps, thus saving the government money in the process. Hatchett says raising wages would help address personal debt problems among citizens.

Jobs and the Economy: Hatchett advocates for levying tariffs on countries that pay their workers substandard wages and on companies that skirt American tax and wage policies by moving off-shore. He believes Smithland Dam on the Ohio River in Livingston County would be an ideal location for a coal gasification facility that could provide numerous jobs for the region. Hatchett also wants to revive the clothing manufacturing industry in western Kentucky.

Bolin says infrastructure improvements are important to job creation and wants to see better broadband Internet access in the region. He claims the 1st District is ranks near the bottom nationally in Internet connection speeds. Bolin promotes rural broadband installation, which he says would foster job growth and increase educational opportunities for district residents.

Veterans: Bolin contends that since Congress has a role in sending men and women to war, the body should be more proactive in serving those veterans when they return home. He supports a stronger GI Bill, including boosting unemployment benefits for veterans.

Hatchett wants to invite veterans to live in and retire to western Kentucky. He says the area has available housing and empty land that could be developed into affordable accommodations, as well as recreational opportunities that veterans, especially those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, would appreciate.

Health Care: Bolin and Hatchett support the Affordable Care Act, although they agree some portions of it may need to be revised. Both men say they have personally benefited from coverage offered through Kentucky's health exchange, Kynect.

Campaign Finance: The candidates argue that large contributions from out-of-state donors have diminished the voice of local constituents in the political process. "That is the way the game is played and I believe the rules should be changed," says Bolin.

"I believe you need to dance with the people that brought you to the dance," Hatchett adds.

Watch the portion of the Kentucky Tonight program with the Democratic primary candidates in the 1st Congressional District race.

Democratic Primary in the 3rd Congressional District

The 3rd Congressional District covers most of Metro Louisville and Jefferson County except for the eastern edge of the county, which is part of the 4th District. Democratic incumbent John Yarmuth declined to participate in the program.

Ray Pierce hails from Grayson County and has lived in Jefferson County for 50 years. He has studied business and engineering and has a background in machining and systems fabrication. Pierce worked for the former Naval Ordnance Station in Louisville and taught machine tool technology at Jefferson Community College.

Environmental Issues: Pierce disputes the need for certain environmental regulations. He opposes the surcharge on reformulated gas in Jefferson County and supported the move to abolish the local vehicle emissions testing program. He believes Louisville's water is some of the best in the nation, and says the city’s air is cleaner than it's ever been.

On coal mining, Pierce argues "You cannot slam the door on coal in Kentucky because that's economic suicide."

Minimum Wage: Pierce prefers to keep the minimum wage at the current rate. He advocates for better education and workforce training programs to help employees advance in their careers and earn higher pay.

Health care: Pierce says health care is an important issue, but he calls the Affordable Care Act too complex and "bloated." He says drug abuse is a problem in the district and more needs to be done to help young people break their addiction to drugs.

Veterans: Pierce says he worked with numerous veterans during his time at the Naval Ordnance Station. He opposes the plan to move the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Louisville to a new location.

Watch the Kentucky Tonight program with 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary candidate Ray Pierce. That segment begins at 38:40.