Long-time Democratic state representative Kelly Flood has announced that she is not running in 2022, thus making the 75th an open seat. Forward Kentucky learned that Roy Harrison, a well-known volunteer and activist in Lexington and a member of the KDP state executive committee, is considering running for the seat.
Harrison works at a firm that does automation robotics consulting, focused primarily on the automotive industry. The company basically teaches robots in a manufacturing how to do their jobs – how to move, when to move, what to do, and so only. Harrison himself does not do that work; instead, he does project management and administration, and also speaks Japanese, a valuable skill in working with various automobile manufacturers.
We have heard from a source that you are considering running for Kelly Flood's seat. Is that accurate?
I’m having a couple of discussions with different folks to see if it’s a good fit for me, for my life, and if I’d be a good fit for the district.
What made you consider running?
I am a transplant to Kentucky, and I’ve made it my adopted home twice now. Cumulatively, I’ve lived here for ten or eleven years. I came here, I loved it, I left for a little bit, and I came back. And the reason I came back is it’s such a livable city. … The community that I’ve been able to find here is unlike any others that I’ve seen in other cities. I wanted to make sure that it’s protected, that the state remains welcoming to any and all who can contribute to it.
Is anyone else running on the Dem side?
I’ve heard names, but I’ve not heard confirmation.
Have you spoken with Kelly Flood about running?
Yes, I spoke with her. I actually work with her on many things, because I am currently the chair for her legislative district. First, to thank her for her service. We put together a “best hits” of some of the work she has done in the legislature over her fifteen years there. It’s on our Fayette Democratic Party’s Facebook page, and also shared a link on Twitter as well.
I reached out to her a few days after we posted that, and tried to understand what life was like in the legislature, and get her advice and shared experiences. We didn’t talk about the politics at all, but about what I would be getting into.
What I understand, then, is that you want to keep the legacy going that Kelly Flood has started. Is that fair?
Yes. Really, when you look at what Kelly has done, education has been a significant aspect of her tenure there. Protecting teachers, her activity during the pension debate, she has chaired subcommittees on K-12 education; keeping that district focused on education, I think, is important. Obviously, as the district lines currently are, it encompasses the University of Kentucky, so it’s important to be sure we are in sync with our flagship university.
But beyond just education, that entire district, from Kelly on backwards, has been a strong progressive district, on the bleeding edge of fairness and equality throughout the state. When I first came to Kentucky, I was a ‘scared gay boy,’ practically. I didn’t know anything about Kentucky. The only thing I knew was what people were saying, in a snickering sort of way. But, I met people like Kelly. I met people who live in the 75th, and they were very welcoming. It was not like the inner fears that I had been projecting. So, it’s because of the work that Kelly did, because of the work that Kathy Stein and Ernesto (Scorsone) did, that we are as progressive a city, so I definitely want to keep that as well.
Have you worked on any campaigns or run for anything before?
No, I’ve never run for anything. I have always been in the background, being a foot soldier, knocking on doors, dropping lit. The closest I had to running a campaign in any sort of organized fashion was helping out with a city council race here this past cycle. And then currently, I did run to be on the Executive Committee of the KY Democratic Party. That just went through on the re-org.
What else would you like to share?
This is all very new to me, so I’m trying to figure out precisely how to really serve the community, serve the district. I volunteered a lot with AVOL (formerly Aids Volunteers of Lexington, an AIDS service organization), I’ve done a lot with Lexington Fairness. I’ve always been involved in building community through the non-profit sector, and I’m curious to see if the skillsets I’ve been able to develop professionally and through these non-profit activities are something that will be useful in Frankfort, in a time when we a fairly partisan way of approaching issues.
One of the key things is that redistricting is going to happen over the next several weeks. Maps are being drawn now, and I think that it’s important that folks in all of Kentucky understand how Republicans in Frankfort are going to draw those maps, because it’s going to move very quickly I’m afraid. And I want to make sure that we’re aware, that we’re engaged.
I think there was a really good attempt at getting voters mobilized during the special session. And, I think it’s going to take the same sort of campaign mentality, sort of ‘all hands on deck,’ let’s make sure that our folks get our voices heard in Frankfort during these sessions, and if anything untoward has happened, we take the same approach to getting people involved that we did during the special session.
It’s important that Frankfort understand that just because the partisan breakdown of the legislature is so heavily skewed in one direction versus the other, all of Kentucky is really not. And, it’s important that lines are drawn that are fair, equitable, and when they’re not, I think it’s the responsibility of folks like me and other party activists and outside the party to really shine the light on actions that would really fundamentally change the characteristics of a particular district just for narrow partisan gain.
How soon do you think you will make a decision?
I’m giving myself the space to resolve any questions that I have internally. Also, understanding that the sooner the better, because it’s a process. The campaign officially begins when the filing period ends, but unofficially, there’s a lot that needs to be done in order to build a team. And, I’m not going to do something that’s half-cocked. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it. So, I’ll give myself a couple of days to a couple of weeks to really see the lay of the land, to see if I have a team that’s going to be able to carry me.
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