Voters in the 12th Senate District should seize the opportunity Nov. 4 to give themselves a real voice in Frankfort and to finally make their vibrant south Lexington district a force in the Kentucky legislature.
They can do this by electing first-time candidate Kathy Warnecke Ryan, a respected Lexington lawyer, school volunteer and advocate for the arts and arts education.
Ryan impresses in many ways, including her deep knowledge of business and finance. She has represented all sides in many bankruptcies and business disputes.
Such nuanced knowledge is rare and would be a huge asset as lawmakers eventually tackle changes to Kentucky's tax system.
Likewise, her understanding of business and finance could make for better decisions — or at least more enlightening debates — about all facets of economic development.
In a gerrymandered legislature that leans heavily toward narrow rural interests, Ryan's advocacy could strengthen Kentucky's cities, which, after all, are economic engines for the whole state.
In her interview with the editor ial board, Ryan came across as an independent thinker — certainly not a lock-step follower of her Democratic colleagues, but more of a potential leader, someone who could forge smart compromises and consensus across party lines.
For a first-time candidate, she has a masterful grasp of not just the issues but also the dynamics under the Capitol dome.
She achieved that grasp the hard way. After her husband died in 2006 in the Comair 5191 crash, she was shocked by the shoddy way Kentucky law treated widows and widowers.
Ryan and another Flight 5191 widow negotiated the treacherous waters of the Capitol for several sessions, advocating for justice. Their bill was approved by the Democratic House but was stopped by the knee-jerk Republican tendency to always put corporations ahead of Kentuckians who are harmed by corporations.
The Supreme Court finally righted the wrong in 2009 in a case unrelated to the crash. The ruling pointed out the nonsensical inconsistency of allowing spouses to collect damages for loss of consortium when a spouse is disabled but not when a spouse dies.
While Ryan struck out in her first foray in Frankfort, we usually learn more from setbacks than victories. Ryan's eagerness to return to the Capitol speaks well of her determination and commitment.
The incumbent, Republican Alice Forgy Kerr, has had 16 years in Frankfort, and, apart from support for better food in public schools, she has no real accomplishments other than those arranged for her by Republican leaders going into elections.
Kerr did not respond to the editorial board's request for an interview and also told the League of Women Voters that she was unavailable for a televised candidate forum. After 16 years as a lawmaker and chairing the Senate economic development committee, shrinking from in- person comparisons says a lot.
While she claims to be a fiscal conservative, Kerr has supported saddling Lexington taxpayers with higher benefits costs for the city's retired police and firefighters, a potent political group.
Lexington needs independent, effective representation in Frankfort. Ryan is ready, willing and able to provide just that. District 12 voters can do all of Kentucky a favor by electing Ryan.