After witnessing Kentucky legislators “ignore the cries” of teachers during protests in response to pension bills Senate Bill 1 and 151, Jeanie Smith decided that her commitment to running for office was imperative.
“The voice of hard working Kentuckians are not being represented through legislation. I realized that we needed someone who would step up and voice the concerns of families and workers right here at home,” said Smith.
Smith, a Democrat running for KY Senate from district 32, decided to run for election before the pension bills had been introduced into the senate and house floors. However, the implications of both bills solidified her political platform, which is devoted to protecting workers and public education.
“Our pension is our livelihood. That bill showed that the state and the senators who supported that had no respect for state employees, no respect for police officers, no respect for social workers – people who are doing really great things for our state,” said Smith.
“I guess they didn’t think we would be quick enough or smart enough to figure out what they were doing. “We certainly were and are. It made people realize that politics matter. Policy matters, and who you send up there [to Frankfort] to make policy, that matters too.”
As a middle school Social Studies teacher herself, Smith recognizes the impact education can have on a community, and is perceptive to the “very real and clear attacks” on public education.
“We see that through the pension crisis, where legislators have been balancing the budget essentially off the funds that the teachers have been paying into,” said Smith.
“Education is the backbone of our community; it’s what can give everybody [an] opportunity to be successful. As we see these cuts to funding, we’re really just crippling our own communities. We can do better than that,” Smith said. “Education changes the world, one life at a time. We need to invest in the people of Kentucky and the way to do that is through education.”
The importance of education and economic justice
Education has been essential to Smith’s personal and professional development. She moved to Kentucky from Georgia to attend Western Kentucky University (WKU) in Bowling Green, where she would discover her passion for students and teaching. She and her husband, who also attended WKU, chose to return to Bowling Green to “grow their roots” after living in Australia as missionaries.
After returning to Bowling Green, Smith and her husband became active members of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, a grassroots organization that aims to better Kentucky through activism and voter empowerment. Smith started advocating for economic justice by lobbying legislators and fostering discussions on issues such as tax reform and providing adequate wages for workers.
Jeanie Smith on the issues
As senator of district 32, Smith aims to achieve the following:
- Create comprehensive tax reform that eases the tax burden from the middle class
- Create a better way of life by raising wages
- Ensure healthcare is affordable and accessible for all Kentuckians
- Prioritize education by fully funding our schools and protect teacher and state employee pensions.
- Evaluate effectiveness of state testing and mandated instructional time
- Work to make our schools safe from violence and drugs
- Protect unions and the rights of workers
- Improve maternity leave requirements
- Institute universal pre-K and create affordable childcare options
- Ensure women have healthcare that is affordable and accessible
- Require equal pay for equal work
- Revive and support the local farming industry
- Simplify the tax code for small businesses
- Create clear and accessible pathways to good jobs
- Invest in infrastructure, including internet that reaches every part of the county
Smith maintains that Kentucky needs, and deserves, a senator who will put families, workers, and students first, before “big money” and corporations.
“I want to make sure we have someone who is going to fight for workers. We need to increase wages and we need to protect unions. They are fighting for people and families and safety conditions, all kinds of things. We need to make sure that the people who are working hard have a voice,” said Smith.
Smith called the legislative session that recently ended a “disgrace to Kentucky” and an “embarrassment,” as “we saw how the legislature is dysfunctional.” She declared that the session contained bad policy and dirty politics that left Kentuckians struggling financially, specifically in relation to health care.
“Right now, Kentuckians are struggling with health care costs and I see what that does in the classroom. I have kids who are on and off medication, families who are financially hurt by medical costs, and I want us to have better and affordable health care people can access,” said Smith. “Our lives would be better, our communities would be stronger.”
In addition to promoting a more affordable health care system, Smith also intends to enhance the infrastructure within her district to promote economic and social development.
“Bowling Green and Warren County are the fastest growing city and county in the state, and that means we have infrastructure needs. I wanna be there to advocate and fight for our community, that way we can keep growing and work for the people that are already here,” said Smith.
Why vote for Jeanie Smith
As a working mother, educator, and citizen, Jeanie Smith feels that she is not only able to represent district 32 and their interests in Frankfort but is also adept to transform the political climate in Kentucky through her devotion to her community.
“I’m going to fight for us. I’m going to fight for our schools. I’m going to fight for people and for families here in Warren County,” said Smith.I’m going to fight for us. I’m going to fight for our schools. I’m going to fight for the people and the families here in Warren County. – Jeanie Smith, candidate for KY SenateClick To Tweet