Two years ago, we enthusiastically endorsed incumbent Susan Westrom in the 79th House District. Westrom, who has served this Fayette County district admirably since 1999, has continued her excellent work and again earns our endorsement for re-election.
Her opponent, Republican Ken Kearns, simply does not measure up to Westrom's record of achievement.
Two years ago, we noted Westrom's principled vote against a bill allowing optometrists to perform eye surgery, and make a lot more money, even though they are not medical doctors. The optometrists had greased the wheels of government liberally with financial contributions, and easily carried the day. Westrom not only cast one of the few votes against the measure but spoke out about an optometrist who told her she should vote for the bill because he had given her campaign money.
Since the last election, Westrom encouraged and championed the neighborhood group in her district that brought the questionable practices of the Bluegrass Area Development District to light.
Westrom also introduced a successful resolution to study salaries, minority hiring, overtime and other issues affecting employees of the General Assembly and the Legislative Research Commission to assure that legislative employees are treated fairly and not subjected to intimidation if they raise concerns about working conditions.
Westrom has worked hard during her tenure to improve the state's child-protection system, including pushing for external review of cases when children under the care of the system die. That became a reality this year when Gov. Steve Beshear appointed an independent panel to review such cases.
The Kentucky Chamber of Commerce recognized Westrom as an MVP this year for her efforts to work across party lines on initiatives important to economic growth. Specifically, the Chamber recognized Westrom's still-unsuccessful effort to pass a statewide smoking ban. "Westrom is one of a select group of leaders who fought for a better business climate," the Chamber wrote in its announcement.
Kearns ran unsuccessfully for this seat in 1990, when he won the Republican nomination, and again in 2012, when he did not emerge from the primary. While we admire his persistence, his campaign goes little beyond the vague promise of change in Frankfort.
We're all for changing many things in Frankfort, but Westrom is not one of them. Voters in the 79th should keep this hardworking representative on the job.
The unendorsed candidate may submit a 250-word response by noon Monday.