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FELLOWS' CORNER: Why This Year Means So Much To Me

My love for Kentucky is the reason why I chose to become an Organizing Fellow for the Kentucky Democratic Party. The Commonwealth is an incredible place. We have the perfect balance between beautiful countryside (sorry, let me rephrase—the BEST countryside) and some lively cities with great opportunities. We have horses, bourbon, great basketball and wonderful people. Kentucky is my home and it always will be.

While we are a great state, we are also one with great potential. Our Democratic lawmakers are fighting for legislation that will have a positive impact on the lives of middle-class Kentuckians. Thanks to Governor Beshear’s implementation of kynect, more Kentuckians now have access to affordable healthcare— a crucial step in improving Kentucky’s poor national rankings in cancer deaths, heart disease and diabetes.

Unfortunately, while a Democratic majority in the House is working with Governor Beshear to pass important legislation for Kentucky families, Republicans are determined to hold Kentucky back. As a female college student, I was very disappointed with the Republican opposition to House Bill 1. Had the bill been passed, the state’s minimum wage would gradually be raised and wage discrimination on the basis of gender, race and national origin would be prohibited. As a college student, I know how difficult it is to get by on the minimum wage. I can’t imagine the difficulty of working for a meager $7.25 an hour while also trying to support a family. It is even more disturbing to think that after working my way through college, I may still not get equal pay for equal work based simply on my gender.

It is a relief, however, to see Democratic candidates such as Alison Lundergan Grimes campaign on the promise of bringing change to the Commonwealth. As an undergraduate, I admire Alison’s plan to make college more affordable for Kentucky students. In contrast, her opponent, Senator Mitch McConnell, shows no interest in working to alleviate student debt and claims that it is not the government’s role to excuse “obligations that have been voluntarily incurred.” I feel very lucky to have the means necessary to attain a quality education. I believe that all hard-working Kentucky students should have this same opportunity.

Also, I find the current trend of hyper-partisanship among lawmakers to be off-putting. Legislators should focus on representing the needs of our people. Frankfort isn’t D.C., and I’m excited to work on behalf of candidates who realize this—candidates who put aside the small-minded partisanship of Washington and press for solutions that lead Kentucky towards a brighter future.

I answered the call to action this election cycle because I want my home state to be represented by lawmakers who are in touch with fellow Kentuckians. I want politicians who work to improve the Commonwealth rather than hinder it from progress. Kentucky is my home. I love and cherish it, but I also worry for its future. I am proud of all that we have accomplished, but I know we can still do better. I am an Organizing Fellow for the Kentucky Democratic Party and I am for a better Kentucky.

Hannah Cornett is a rising senior at the University of Kentucky, and a current Summer Organizing Fellow at the Kentucky Democratic Party. She is a native of Georgetown, KY.