By Lily Barnette and Ülvi Gitaliyev
The Berea Torch reached out to Susan Cintra, the Democratic candidate running against incumbent Republican candidate Jared Carpenter, who voted in favor of a fetal heart bill in 2019, for the 34 District Kentucky Senate seat. District 34 represents all of Madison County and parts of Fayette County. Unfortunately, Jared Carpenter never replied to our request for an interview.
During the interview, Cintra discussed why she decided to run in the first place and talked about the voting of House Bill 525 in 2019 as a teacher. For those not living in Kentucky at the time, the Kentucky House of Representatives had HB 525, a bill that would restructure the board that manages teachers’ pensions. Under the changes, the Kentucky Education Association (KEA), the statewide teachers union, would have less representation on the board. At the time, KEA represented nearly 30,000 members and would only be able to nominate just one board member when it had previously been allowed to select four.
“I was standing outside the chamber doors when they voted on it. It was baptism by fire. Knowing how that would impact our teachers and then thinking, how do we push back against it? Since then, it’s been attack after attack on public education, you know, so it’s been nonstop. That’s what led me to this path. But what I think is even more interesting is my position as a teacher; I get to see everybody from both political sides or political ideologies, from all income statuses, from all races, and from all religions. I see everybody, and they come through my doors. Furthermore, I see how decisions made in Frankfort and at the national level trickle down and impact our kids and our families.”
Next, Cintra discussed what she would like to achieve if elected. Public education, reproductive rights, medical marijuana, and accessible healthcare are all things she mentioned wanting to work towards in the state of Kentucky.
“Addressing our teacher shortage? That has to be a priority. Focusing on the funding element for schools… It’s not enough. Education is my big priority, but we also have a lot of issues with medical marijuana. Everybody wants that passed. Why have we not passed it yet? Working towards accessible health care for everybody, defending women’s rights to healthcare. Are we going to protect our women? It’s a scary time.”
Cintra then talked about her campaign and how she felt as someone who had never run for political office. She mentioned how half of her campaign team are Democrats, and the other half are Republicans because she believes in both sides working together to find common ground with each other. Just like when she is teaching, Cintra has to work with students from all backgrounds, so having this as part of her campaign is very important. Furthermore, she doesn’t feel intimidated by being more inexperienced in the political world.
Last but not least, The Berea Torch asked Susan Cintra to give a final message to Berea College students looking to vote this year! She said:
“I think the soul of our state is up for the ballot this session. That means how do we move forward, not only with women’s rights, because that is a huge issue right now, but our public schools. How do we protect our labor unions; how do we defend the right of our workers and our ability to organize and stand up for ourselves? Those are the things that are on the ballot right now. So, when you go in to vote, you have to educate yourself and vote. I go on to a high horse about people who think their vote doesn’t count, but their vote absolutely counts; we’ve been trained to believe that our vote doesn’t matter, and we’ve continually been suppressed in how our votes can count.
I grew up here — it’s home — it’s one of the most unique places in the whole state just because of how artsy we are and how the inner parts of us are very liberal and the outer parts seem more conservative. I like the fact that we have this unique blend, and we don’t hate each other all the time… We have this ability to live well together and work well together. We should be figuring out how we harness that and push it out with the rest of the world because that’s what we’re about.”
You can learn more about Susan Cintra on their campaign website!