May 1, 2018 Media

Gray would bring diversity, not dark money to Senate

Special needs educator Denise Gray is running for the state’s 28th Senate District seat.

Instead of becoming an attorney after completing law school, Denise Gray decided she wanted to teach.

Daily, she changes the lives of her special needs students. Now, she wants to do the same for people in her state senate district.

“When I decided I wanted to run for office, I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives where I can make good policy,” Gray said. “It infuriates me as a Kentucky native, who was born and raised here, that my senator can be so easily bought and so easily led to work for special interest groups that don’t benefit the people of the 28th Senate District. We need to send a clear message that this is not Kentucky and not the type of leadership we deserve.”

“Frankfort and our legislators are out of touch with what teachers and educators do on a daily basis.”

The 28th Senate District covers all of Montgomery and Clark counties and part of Fayette County. The current Republican senator has been more than cozy with the dark money now flooding Kentucky.

The Koch brothers-backed group Americans For Prosperity-Kentucky (AFP) have gone so far as to print out his meet-and-greet fliers, mail them to residents he purportedly represents and picked up the postage costs on his behalf. On each flier, the group supplied their own phone number and handled RVSPs for him at their Kentucky office.

A flier mailed out in the 28th Senate District paid for by the Koch Brothers-backed up Americans for Prosperity.

Many of the legislative actions taken by the new Republican majority in Frankfort are part of the AFP’s playbook or another Koch brothers affiliated group, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).  produces canned legislation for lawmakers across the nation.

Both Gray’s opponent and Gov. Bevin have actively advocated for the organization’s big-donor backed legislative agenda. Her opponent has been praised by ALEC for his anti-Kentuckian legislative efforts and named him one of their legislators of the week on their website.

Kentuckians, Gray said, need to get the dark money and outside-billionaire donor class out of Kentucky’s politics. All Kentuckians from diverse backgrounds should be represented in Frankfort — not corporations.

“It’s sad that I will be the first African-American woman in almost 30 years in the Senate since Georgia Davis Powers,” Gray said. “It’s an honor. I don’t take it lightly, but I’m also disturbed by that fact. It’s about representation. You don’t get the needed, diverse point of view. I’m honored that I will be there to represent people of color — not just African-Americans — but people of all nationalities that are state residents.”

The makeup and agenda of the General Assembly need to shift back to what it’s intended to do, Gray said, “make policy that will benefit the people of Kentucky.

“People are waking up. They’re realizing that when you don’t participate, you don’t have any say at all in what happens”

“I’m hearing from many people that bills my opponent has produced will negatively affect Kentuckians. I believe our communities should have a say in the process,” Gray said.

“My job as a senator is not to be a dictator for the policies I produce. If it is going to negatively impact farmers, I want to hear from farmers their point of view prior to making any sound decision. Our people should be heard and that’s what we are lacking from the General Assembly.”

Since the Republican majority passed bad bills — many crafted behind closed doors — like the sewage-pension bill, a tax increase on 95 percent of Kentuckians and the continued defunding of public education, Gray has become only more invigorated by her choice to file for office.

Gray stands with fellow public education advocates during one of the many rallies against the Frankfort majority’s agenda.

“After the fiasco of the last General Assembly, it was even more reaffirming,” Gray said. “As an educator, the rhetoric we saw and heard from our governor, it tells me that Frankfort and our legislators are out of touch with what teachers and educators do on a daily basis.”

Since hitting the campaign trail, Gray has met more people who are now engaged and ready to be involved in the process. They are excited to finally be recognized and valued about what matters to them. They’ve never seen or met the incumbent representing them in the Senate.

“People are waking up. They’re realizing that when you don’t participate, you don’t have any say at all in what happens,” Gray said. “My opponent, as we know, is backed by others (outside interests). My supporters don’t have that kind of money. My campaign is a grassroots campaign. If people give small amounts, that adds up. We’re going to outwork everyone in this race. I don’t give up easily.”

Connect with Denise Gray on her website , Facebook or follow her on Twitter.