Local and state Democratic lawmakers and candidates gathered Wednesday to rally educators and the community to turn out and vote in the Nov. 6 general election.
Hosted by the Hardin County Education Association, the event focused on making sure the teachers’ rally cry of “Remember in November” would not be an idle statement.
“I understand we can get complacent,” HCEA President Regina Boone said. “This is not one of those times. We know what we have in Frankfort. It’s not working.”
The “Remember in November” rally at Pritchard Community Center featured a slate of speakers from state Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, to Minority Floor Leader Rep. Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, who is a potential gubernatorial candidate.
However, Boone and other attendees noted that turnout was lower than expected.
“Why is this place not packed?” Boone asked in her speech.
Michelle Richardson, HCEA board member and teacher at G.C. Burkhead Elementary School, said the turnout was disappointing.
“I expected more people here,” she said. “I expected more state and county employees.”
Richardson said she wasn’t involved politically until the recent legislative session. She cited teacher pensions, cuts to funding for public education and the possibility of charter schools as primary issues. She said the livelihoods of educators and the working class are at stake this election.
In the spring, thousands of teachers and public employees descended on Frankfort to protest state budget cuts to public schools and changes to their state pension system. They shouted “Remember in November” and filled the Capitol building as lawmakers voted to pass the state budget and a tax bill.
With election day less than two weeks away, state and local candidates and their supporters want to recapture that energy and transfer it into Election Night wins.
Speakers at Wednesday’s rally encouraged attendees to support local and state candidates by knocking on doors or making phone calls. They also recapped a list of laws passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly which Democrats say are harmful to the state’s working class and public education. It includes right-to-work laws, legalizing charter schools, repealing the prevailing wage and reforming pensions.
The pension reform law, Senate Bill 151, passed at the end of the recent legislative session featured prominently in many speeches. The bill left benefits for current employees unchanged while moving new employees into a hybrid cash-balance retirement plan. Critics refer to the law as the sewer bill, because it originally dealt with wastewater before lawmakers substituted language for the pension measure.
“It was the most appropriately named bill that we have had since I’ve been up there,” Parrett said.
Adkins and other speakers made sure to mention Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s comments over the last year regarding teachers. He referred to protesting educators as thugs and “guaranteed” a child was physically harmed when schools closed because teachers rallied in Frankfort.
“That capitol building doesn’t belong to Matt Bevin,” Adkins said. “That capitol building in Frankfort is the people’s house. Thirteen days from today is when you get even.”