By Lily Barnette and Ülvi Gitaliyev
Elected in 2021, Josh Bray is running unopposed this year. He represents the entirety of Rockcastle County, as well as parts of Laurel, Pulaski and Madison County, including most of Berea. The Berea Torch was able to interview him to discuss why he originally ran, achievements from his last term, and what he plans to do in the future!
After being asked why he decided to run for the Kentucky House of Representatives, Bray mentioned working as a city administrator in Mount Vernon. He realized there was a lot of grant money in Kentucky going to other places and he recognizes that many residents commute to other cities for work because there isn’t good infrastructure and enough jobs to keep people home.
“Rockcastle County, lived there my whole life. But it’s kind of a bedroom community, you know what I mean? Most people who live there work outside of the county. And so, we asked, how can we grow the community? What do we need to do? What infrastructure needs to be in place to attract higher paying jobs and to bring in opportunity? There’s a lot of need there. I just didn’t feel like there was anybody fighting for rural Kentucky and so that’s what first piqued my interest…
I’ve got two little kids — one in kindergarten and one in fifth grade. I’m looking at them and thinking when I was their age. When I was in high school, a lot of the people I graduated with had to leave home and go to other places to find work. Some of my best friends now live in Northern Kentucky, Lexington, or they’ve had to move away because that’s where the work is. And so, selfishly, I’m looking at my kids and I’m thinking, man, I don’t want them to leave.”
Bray then discussed what he accomplished his last term. He mentioned a variety of infrastructure upgrades and improvements. Examples he provided were the expansion of one of the local airports, new water lines and roads in Berea, and new gas lines into Rockcastle County which was one of the six counties in Kentucky that didn’t have natural gas. Afterwards, Bray described his future goals as focusing on the growth of Berea and Madison County in general.
“I have lost every precinct I had before. Berea used to have three, maybe four, different representatives. So that was consolidated and I have the vast majority of Berea now, probably 95% of it… I have a meeting with Mayor Fraley and his administration; we’re starting to establish what we need to do to grow Berea. We have to make sure we’ve got the pieces here to help Madison County grow.”
The Berea Torch then asked Representative Bray on his opinions of Amendment 2 that will be on Kentucky’s ballot statewide. If passed, “Constitutional Amendment 2 would amend the Bill of Rights of the Kentucky Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution protects or secures a right to abortion or requires the funding of abortion,” according to Ballotpedia. After doing some research, we learned that Josh Bray is part of the Pro-Life Caucus and this was reflected in his response.
“My personal views on it? I’m very pro-life. I always have been. I mean, if you want to get into the finer points of should there be some discussion on exemptions on this or that, we can argue that on the floor all day. I mean, we do it every time and it turns into a seven hour rock fight. But, that’s kind of where I am with it. I voted on the floor to allow the Constitutional Amendment. I’ll be voting for it in the voting booth. But, you know, I feel like it’s a discussion that needs to be had amongst the voters — the citizens.”
Last but not least, we asked Bray what final message did he have for Berea College students, especially since the college is under his jurisdiction as our Kentucky House Representative.
“Learn about the people. Learn about the issues. Think of where you are. Where do you want to see the country going? I can tell you, we probably don’t agree on every issue, but we have to be able to have the conversation. Don’t be afraid to learn. If somebody’s saying something you disagree with, refute them with your own ideas. We have to get to a point where we can agree to disagree, but we can also debate issues. We can talk. We can sit down. We can hammer them out without hateful rhetoric. I may go into a meeting completely agreeing with you and then somebody will bring up a good point or have an idea that I hadn’t thought about and I may end up voting with them. That happens a lot. You can’t do that if you’re just trying to ‘own the libs’ or ‘own the cons’ or whatever because nuance matters.”
To check if your home falls under Representative Bray’s district, then you can consult the map here.