'Unprecedented' number of educators running for office in Kentucky

Published: Apr. 3, 2018 at 11:50 PM EDT
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Dozens of educators have filed to run for a seat in the Kentucky legislature.

David Allen is the former president of the Kentucky Education Association (KEA). He said he and a group are tracking the number of educators who decide to run for office this year. He said at least 40 filed: 32 Democrats and eight Republicans. This does not include write-in candidates.

"It's unprecedented," Allen said. "These are teachers, administrators, P-12 educators, active, retired, higher education, paraeducators..."

Denise Gray is a teacher in Fayette County. She said after teaching for four years, she now has her eyes on the 28th District Senate seat that is currently held by Republican Sen. Ralph Alvarado.

Gray is running as a Democrat. She said she's upset with how things have been going in Frankfort from charter schools to pensions and the budget.

"It's important that all those that are upset with what is going on in Frankfort right now, not to lose the momentum," Gray said. "Remember what's been happening in Frankfort these past few weeks. Remember that in November when it's time to vote. Don't stay home."

Allen said that frustration has inspired many educators to take matters into their own hands.

"It's frustration over past action and it's all been recently exacerbated by the efforts of the General Assembly to meet behind closed doors and push legislation through," Allen said.

Tres Watson is the Communications Director for the Republican Party of Kentucky. He believes the reason why there is an influx of teachers wanting to serve in the legislature is complicated.

"I think some are legitimately unhappy and I know that the Democrats made a concerted effort to seek out and recruit teachers, so I think that's why you see an increased number," Watson said.

Watson said there has been a lot of misinformation spread about recent bills, but said by Election Day, he believes teachers will feel differently.

"They're going to realize they were protesting something that wasn't there. They were misinformed," he said. "I think a lot of that anger and fervor is going to die down because they're going to realize we listened to their concerns just like legislators are supposed to."

The general election is Nov. 6 with the primaries May 22.