By Kyeland Jackson —
With the presidential election fast approaching, competition closes for the U.S. senate.
Encouraging students to register and vote on Nov. 8, U.S. Senate candidate Jim Gray spoke to The Cardinal about what he brings to the table for elections.
“I have both the private sector experience, a career in the private sector and a career in the public sector. So I’ve been able to see that good business practices and principles will translate into the public sector,” Gray said. He emphasized a government should not always be treated as a business.
Gray, Lexington’s mayor for six years, faces incumbent Rand Paul. Gray has an uphill battle with a 12 percent poll deficit according to a Runswitch PR and Harper poll in early August.
The race is important for U of L students and other Kentucky universities recovering from daunting years.
Cuts by Governor Matt Bevin were prepared to take $18 million from colleges and universities in the state. Courts ruled he must return the funds, but state funding towards higher education continues to decrease. For U of L, state funding has decreased regularly for nine years. Cuts prompted U of L to lean on its students, increasing tuition, meal plans and housing.
To allay higher education concerns, Gray plans to address the economy, cost of education and options available for students to succeed.
“We’ve got to grow our economy so young people can have the opportunities that I had, that we had. If we don’t grow the economy at more than a one (0r) 1.5 percent a year, then you’re not going to have the promise of a growing middle class,” Gray said. “One of the things that I think we really need to work on is the cost of education. I think it’s really a shame that students are coming out of college with mountains of debt.”
Gray’s example is the “Beam Project,” which he says focuses on 100,000 high-paying manufacturing jobs for youth. Gray said a technical track through community colleges may help decrease high debt levels.
“But I think we’ve especially got to look at the way in which we’re creating the promise, or the expectation, that better jobs and opportunities are going to come from just a higher education. I think it’s important for us to say to young people that there are other opportunities as well where you can get ahead,” Gray said.
Photo by Briana Williams / The Louisville Cardinal