Harmon, Sparrow seek House seat in 54th District

October 24, 2004|STEPHEN BURNETT

Republican incumbent Mike Harmon and Democrat challenger David Sparrow both want your vote for state representative in the 54th District, and both said they have considerable experience in their areas. The district is comprised of Boyle and Washington counties.

Sparrow's study field is actually the study of fields - he's a former Boyle County extension agent and retired assistant to the dean of the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture.

"There's a tremendous number of rural economic issues that we're dealing with," Sparrow said. "That's going to be very important to Washington and Boyle counties from the standpoint of ag issues and the importance of agriculture and our economy."

As a member of two cattlemen's associations and the superintendent of the North American International Livestock Exposition, Sparrow said he's qualified to address those issues because of his education and practical experience.


"We've got to have people in place that can deal with agriculture issues that are going to be coming to us" in the state House of Representatives, he said.

Harmon, finishing up his first term as state representative, pointed to his record over the past two years.

Along with pushing better laws, Harmon said, "we also want to make sure that legislation that is counterproductive to the state doesn't get through.

"I helped block a couple of those," he said.

He said he's proposed a bill that would give disabled children more education options, and assembled statistics and ideas for curbing state overspending.

"I've had what I called the Good Stewardship Act," he said, which would restrict the state from spending "no more than the rate of inflation or the increase in population."

Harmon described himself as "a very conservative individual," both fiscally and socially.

"My wife has jokingly told me I'm not to the left of anyone," he said. "I've been endorsed by the NRA, endorsed by Kentucky Right to Life.

"Education's very important. Family values are very important, and doing things that will give value back to life are very important.

"More of my values lie with the Republican Party than the Democrat Party," he added. "Hopefully if you agree more with what I believe the people of Boyle and Washington counties will give me an opportunity to serve them for another two years."

But regardless of his own beliefs, Harmon added he'll listen to members of his district who belong to any party.

"I've worked very hard to try to represent every constituent in my area regardless of their political affiliation," he said.

Then when it comes to working on new laws, he added, "I try to listen to everyone, but I vote to provide legislation based on my core beliefs."

Harmon likens his social positions to those of President Bush, whom he supports.

"Obviously he's very strong on the War on Terror," Harmon said, "and he's very strong on trying to develop and implement creative ways in regards to Medicare, and especially with the drug bill.

"And he's a man of faith as well," he added, referring to Bush's Christian beliefs. "He impresses me in many ways."

Harmon said he's against judges who rule against the inclusion of religious symbols or texts on state property based on church/state separation concerns.

For them, Harmon suggests, just read the First Amendment, which only restricts the government from establishing an official religion.

The "wall between church and state" idea, Harmon said, only began with a 1947 Supreme Court ruling that misquoted a letter by Thomas Jefferson.

"It was actually Jefferson's intent that the state should never have influence on religion," Harmon explained. "Religious principles should actually have influence on the state.

"If you actually read it, the words 'separation of church and state' do not appear in the document," he said.

Sparrow also said his fiscal and social positions reflect conservative ideals but did not offer an endorsement of Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry.

"Local people have to make their own mind up on the national election," he said, adding that he'll also work to represent district constituents regardless of their party affiliation.

Fiscally, the state budget is especially important, Sparrow said.

"We need to get a budget," he said. "I think that's a primary goal we need to come up with a budget, and we need to work in a bipartisan way to get that done."

Sparrow also wants to keep funding education so Kentucky's improving test scores will continue to go up.

"We need to attract and retain the best and brightest teachers," he said. "And we have to make sure that we have the funding available to make sure that we continue to move forward in that area."

How to attract educators to the state? "You have to pay them, and you have to provide benefits," Sparrow said. "Years ago, there was a decision made that our teachers - we can't pay them what they're worth, but we can provide good benefits."

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