FRANKFORT — Regina Bunch spent much of her first afternoon as the newest member of the Kentucky House of Representatives receiving congratulations and words of encouragement from the chamber's other 99 members.
"Their generosity is just humbling," Bunch said of the warm reception she received Tuesday from Republicans and Democrats.
The seventh-grade teacher at Whitley County Middle School never wanted to seek public office.
Her husband, Dewayne Bunch, resigned his seat last year after being injured during a fight at Whitley County High School. Dewayne Bunch, a math and science teacher at the school, had stepped in to stop a fight between two students in April and suffered serious head injuries.
After Dewayne Bunch resigned, Regina Bunch was the only candidate from either party to seek his seat in a special election held last month. The Republican from Williamsburg will serve the remaining year of her husband's two-year term. Regina Bunch was sworn in Tuesday by Supreme Court Chief Justice John D. Minton.
Regina Bunch said she decided to run for the position because public service meant so much to her husband.
"He worked so hard to win this seat," Bunch said. "I just wanted to do this for him."
The special education teacher said that education issues will be important to her and to her husband. She also would like to see legislation passed to help curb methamphetamine laboratories, which is a growing problem in her legislative district. The 82nd District includes Whitley County and part of Laurel County.
Regina Bunch said Tuesday that she has not decided whether she will run for re-election. The filing deadline is Jan. 31. The election is in November.
"It just depends on his progress," Regina Bunch said of her husband.
Dewayne Bunch is in a rehabilitation center receiving therapy and treatment.
Regina Bunch said Tuesday that the pace of her new position was a bit overwhelming. But she appeared to be a quick study.
Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, approached Bunch on Tuesday to let her know that he would be available if she needed any advice or help.
"Especially on how to vote," Wayne said jokingly.
"Are you a Democrat?" Bunch asked.
"Yes," Wayne said. "A liberal."
"I'll get back to you," Bunch replied.