Harmon and Harmon battle for state representative seat

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By Jesse Osbourne


Two candidates are vying for one seat in the 54th District state representative race.

Mike Harmon is the incumbent, while Barry Harmon is seeking to unseat him.
Both candidates were given a questionnaire to complete. The candidates each returned their questionnaire. Their answers are below.

Mike Harmon
Why did you decide to file or re-file for this office?

I have had the distinct honor to serve the people of Washington and Boyle counties these last 10 years and have had some tremendous success in slowing the growth of government (and by extension keeping taxes down) while also being a part of a team that brought back millions of dollars to the 54th district to help with roads, water, sewer, etc.  However, there is still much to be done at the state.  We struggle with billions of debt and even more than that with unfunded pension liabilities.  We also must be vigilant to protect the innocent unborn as well as protect traditional family values. And now more than ever, we need as many people in Frankfort (and Washington) who are willing to defend individual liberties. For these reasons, I decided to run again. 
Besides running for this political office, how else are you involved in this community or your district (volunteering, previous political experience, etc.)?
I have been very active in the church I attend.  In the past, I have served as Sunday school director as well as chairman of the deacons at Junction City First Baptist.  I currently serve as church moderator, as well as just accepted the role as chairman of the deacons again.
Both my wife and I have been supportive of the local PRC (Pregnancy Resource Center) to provide a pressure-free and Christ-centered location for young mothers in a crisis pregnancy to have a loving place to get all the information to make an informed decision on a very difficult situation. It also helps young mothers with parent training, as well some food, diapers, and job training.
For this particular office, I lost in 1998 and 2000 before being elected to the position for the first time in 2002.  When first elected, I was the first Republican from Boyle County to be elected to the position in 102 years.  Since that time, I have been blessed with a total of five terms.
I also made an unsuccessful (but exciting) run for Lt. Governor in 2011 with Phil Moffett.
How have these experiences helped prepare you for office?
Leadership experience has served me well.  Learning the ability to step away from the emotions of a situation also has helped while at the same time you want to maintain the passion you have for the issue.  God really worked on me over the reason to maintain my enthusiasm while tempering my approach.  I learned that you never get someone to agree with you by acting like their opinion has no worth.  You don’t have to agree to be respectful and you can do so without diminishing your position. 
What would you say is the job description for the office you seek?
To be a servant of the people.  If someone is looking for this position in any part of the state for status or to put a notch in their belt, I would encourage them not to.  I, and my family, have made many sacrifices both financially and time with family and friends to be at this moment.  However, I have no regrets as I truly enjoy serving.  As state representative, I have a constitutional duty to follow the federal and state constitution and that includes serving at the will of the people.  Our primary duty is to pass a budget, but it is also important to assist constituent’s with questions and concerns to the best of my and staff’s ability and to do so regardless of political registration.
Why would you be a good candidate for this office?
I have served for 10 years.  I have the knowledge and experience to serve the citizens of Washington and Boyle counties.  I have already proven that I respond back to all citizens and assist whenever possible.  I will continue to fight for smaller government and to protect your money from an ever- expanding government that wants to take it from you.  Even though I fight for a smaller government, I will continue to be part of a team that makes sure that what monies are available, that Washington and Boyle will get what is needed or what some refer to as “our fair share.”   I will continue to fight for the innocent unborn and protect traditional family values. And finally, I’m the type of person that you can pick up the phone, call me, get a call back, and feel comfortable in describing your problem and know that I will do all in my legal and ethical power to assist.
If elected, what would you like to accomplish or help accomplish during your term?
I would like to see legislation that helps us get our arms around the unfunded pension liability problem.  It is important for us to make sure the system is there for those who have paid into it and have planned on it being there for them when they retire.  I would like to see us pay down our debt and spend less than we bring in.  I would like to see us be able to pass the ultra sound and informed consent bill so mothers can have all the needed information and time to make such a life-changing decision.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
For a more thorough breakdown of accomplishments and goals, please go to www.mike-harmon.com.
Also, this time of year and especially if you have a voting record, things tend to get a little crazy as those running against you like to twist words and votes.  I would ask if anyone has questions why I voted for or against a bill, I encourage them to call me at 859-238-7792 so we can discuss.  

Barry Harmon
Why did you decide to file or re-file for this office?

The reason I filed for the office of State Representative was after much prayer and talking to my family and friends. As an elected official in Boyle County being jailer, serving my third term, I have attended most of the fiscal court meetings in Boyle County, also Mercer County fiscal court meetings, I have listened to the needs and concerns of our local governments. There has not been the presence of our current state representative. This is not fair to our district.
Besides running for this political office, how else are you involved in this community or your district (volunteering, previous political experience, etc.)?
Serving as pastor of The New Harmony Baptist Church for the past 14 years, has allowed my wife, Patsy, and I to have the opportunity to give our time and personal resources to help the people of Washington County. I do count this a great privilege and blessing to be a part of the Mackville community here in Washington County. I was ordained into the gospel ministry August 5, 1979 by the Parksville Baptist Church in Parksville, Kentucky. Graduate of Clear Creek Bible College, Pineville, Kentucky, 1983.
Serving as jailer of Boyle County for nearly 10 years, has given me experience in working with a staff of 45 employees, over 150 volunteers, and housing an average of 265 inmates and serving their family/friends. Jail is a part of every community that provides safety inside and outside of jail. As jailer it is my responsibility to provide a constitutional level of care. Boyle and Mercer Counties are a joint jail operation. I meet each month with both county judge executive, county attorney and treasurer from Boyle and Mercer counties. We make up the joint jail committee. All recommendations are sent to both fiscal courts from the joint jail committee.
Since being the jailer, here are some accomplishments:
- Established the first Telephonic Triage that is a 24 hour, 7 days a week in the nation. This is where an inmate is interviewed by a licensed counselor if they should flag on certain questions while being admitted in the jail. This was accomplished with the help of Bluegrass Mental Health.
- GED program has been improved with fast-track by Internet link.
- Substance abuse program was implemented nearly three years ago. We have a 40 bed treatment program. This is fully funded by the Kentucky Department of Corrections. We have had just over 100 graduates since July 1, 2011. There have been seven re-arrested out of this number. A seven percent failure rate is excellent. The program is now being implemented in all the jails across the Commonwealth that are operating a SAP. Our SAP is directed by Jarod Thomas, and is now one of three SAP that is licensed and certified  nationally.
- Purchased an inmate only transport car, 2012 Ford Fusion, 4-cylinder. This was paid for out of Canteen profits and not our tax dollars! This car will be used to transport inmates for health appointments, to and from court, movement to other jails or prisons and for any other reasons needed for inmate transportation. Inmates buy products from the jail canteen with their money and the jail makes the profits from theses sales.
How have these experiences helped prepare you for office?
Working with people on a day to day basis, having served on committees in church and government, having a balanced budget in both of these areas and listening to the concerns of the people. Being a servant has been my life for the past 37 years, so I look forward to serving the people of the 54 District.
What would you say is the job description for the office you seek?
The title itself is a brief definition of the the office of “state representative.” This job is a position in state government to be in Frankfort to represent the folks of Washington and Boyle counties at the state level. As a representative you are to present new legislation, vote for or against legislation on behalf of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the district. Work for a balanced budget and support this with your vote. Listen to all citizens in your district and be the voice of the people. This is not a job that tax payers work for the representative, but rather a servant position to the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky and their local district.
Why would you be a good candidate for this office?
Now is the time for a change for the 54 District, we as the people of Kentucky need someone that is not afraid of the challenge before us. There are some difficult decisions to be made. In serving the capacity of minister and jailer there have been many difficult challenges that I have gone through. Looking forward to the challenges ahead I will be the person you will need to represent you. I know how to lead but even greater being a team member is a strong point for me.
If elected, what would you like to accomplish or help accomplish during your term?
- Education is number one, without continued improvement in our educational system in Kentucky we will never be able to be competitive in attracting people to come to our state, invest their money in establishing companies that will provide the jobs that we need.
- Reinvesting into our local economy is important. Our children and grandchildren need to stay with our families if possible and not have to move off to another part of the country for a job. We have the greatest potential to enhance the job market right here in District 54! You need a representative that will connect up with our local economic development partners, by this I mean the representative will go with them to meet potential investors for our district and attend the EDP local monthly meetings. Representing you, I will be attending local government meetings, such as fiscal court, city council or commission, local economic development partners and I will be available to everyone.
- Substance abuse is something that affects everyone in the Commonwealth, 80 percent of the people in jail today is drug related. Crime cost all of us. Just locking people up is not the answer to our problem with drug abuse. The Pill Mill Bill was passed by the majority of the house, if I had the opportunity to vote for this bill, I would have done so! However my non-represenative voted against this bill. Treatment for those that want to come off drug dependence needs to be stepped up across the Commonwealth in our communities, halfway houses, jails and prisons. There needs to be an asserted effort to reach our children in the first year of middle school about drug abuse. This would be part of each school’s curriculum. We need to help each child develop the defenses against legal and illegal drug abuse.