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KSBA News Article

Legislative races feature board member, former board members


Kentucky School Advocate
February 2024

By Brenna R. Kelly
Staff writer

As the 2024 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly continues, most of the members are also running for reelection. This year, all 100 seats in the House of Representatives and half of the 38 seats in the Senate are on the ballot.

When the Jan. 5 filing deadline passed, 36 people had filed to run for Senate and 191 filed to run for the House, according to the Secretary of State. However, those candidates do not include as many incumbents as usual. Twelve House and four Senate incumbents did not file for reelection.

The incumbents who are leaving the General Assembly include retired teacher Derrick Graham, R-Frankfort, a vocal public education advocate. The two current legislators who previously served as local school board members, Rep. Kevin Jackson, R-Bowling Green, a former Warren County board member, and Rep. Lisa Willner, D-Louisville, a former Jefferson County board member, will both be returning to the House as they are unopposed.

Three former local school board members and one current board member are seeking to join them.

Trying to return
Former Boone County school board member and former KSBA President Ed Massey, who served two terms in the House before losing in the 2022 primary, is hoping to return to his old seat representing the 66th District.

Massey, an attorney, served as chair of Judiciary Committee during his time in the legislature. During the 2022 General Assembly, Massey, a Republican, sponsored HB 678 which allowed districts to bypass some Kentucky Department of Education approvals in order to speed up facility construction and lower the costs of construction projects.

Current Rep. Steve Rawlings, R-Burlington, who beat Massey in 2022, has filed to run for the state Senate.  

In the May primary, Massey will face fellow Republican T. J. Roberts, who describes himself as “no-nonsense, America first constitutionalist.” The winner of the primary will face Democrat Peggy Houston-Nienaber in the November election.

Seeking state service

Former Jefferson County board member Debbie Wesslund is also seeking to join the legislature. Wesslund, who was a board leadership and training consultant for KSBA for eight years, is running to represent the 48th District in the House of Representatives. Wesslund served on the Jefferson County school board for eight years and served as the board’s chair from 2009 to 2010.  

Wesslund also worked in Washington, D.C., as a congressional press secretary and as a lobbyist. In Kentucky, she served as the communications director for KentuckianaWorks.

Wesslund said she is running to make sure that Kentucky continues to grow and prosper.

“My focus will be to invest in people, supporting public education – preschool to postsecondary,” she said in a statement. “Investing in people also includes supporting the move to cleaner energy, and the effort to ensure necessary healthcare is available for us all.”

In the May primary, Wesslund faces fellow Democrat Kate Farrow, a retired Louisville Water Company employee and current life coach in Oldham County. If she wins the primary, Wesslund would face incumbent Republican Ken Fleming.

Former Scott County school board member Kevin Kidwell is also running for the state House and could end up running against the Scott County superintendent’s father.

Kidwell, who served eight years on the Scott County board including terms as chair and vice chair, is running for District 62 as a Democrat. Kidwell is a retired police officer having served in Nicholasville and Georgetown. He’s now a farmer and has served as chair of the Scott County Agricultural Development Board.

“I hope to serve my fellow Kentuckians as well as honor those before me,” he said in a statement. As a legislator, Kidwell said he wants to focus on public safety, agriculture and education.

Kidwell is unopposed in the Democratic primary. In the November election, he will face either Scott County Sheriff Tony Hampton or Bill Parker, father of Scott County Superintendent Billy Parker, depending on who wins the Republican primary in May.

School board to state House
At least one current school board member is seeking to join the General Assembly this year. Bardstown Independent board member Andy Stone is seeking the District 50 seat. Stone will face incumbent Rep. Candy Massaroni and Don Trasher in the May Republican primary.

Stone, a Bardstown businessman and pilot for American Airlines, has served on the Bardstown board since 2013.

In a statement after his filing, Stone said his experience in business and in numerous leadership and management roles have helped prepare him for additional public service.

“Many know my commitments to our country and to Nelson County,” he wrote. “My aim for this campaign is to meet and learn from those who know me and those who don’t so that all of Nelson County is confident that I will be their strongest, most experienced voice in Frankfort.”

Stone said the Nelson County community faces many challenges, including taxes, infrastructure, education and quality of life.

“My goal is to capitalize on these opportunities for Nelson County to grow and prosper while protecting the unique identity of our hometown,” he said.  

Leaving the legislature
Several current legislators did not file for reelection in 2024, or filed for a different seat.
Rep. Danny Bentley, R-Russell
Rep. Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville
Rep. Jonathan Dixon, R-Henderson
Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort
Rep. Keturah Herron, D-Louisville (running for state Senate)
Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo, R-Lexington
Rep. Phillip Pratt, R-Georgetown
Rep. Steve Rawlings, R-Burlington (running for state Senate)
Rep. Josie Raymond, D-Louisville
Rep. Brandon Reed, R-Hodgenville
Rep. Rachel Roberts, D-Newport
Rep. Russ Weber, R-Shepherdsville
Sen. Denise Harper-Angel, D-Louisville
Sen. John Schickel, R-Union
Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown
Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Fruit Hill

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