Students at Barren County High School were given the opportunity to meet and discuss life and political ideas with democratic House candidate LaToya Drake. Drake visited Matt Gardner’s AP Government and Politics class Friday to offer her ideas and motives for running for a political office.
Drake is a seventh generation Kentucky native from Glasgow, where she says she grew up in poverty. Drake mentioned she lived in an area of town where she did not have a lot of tangible luxury, but she did possess maternal luxury.
According to Drake, her mother pushed her from an early age to be an outstanding student and a person who pursued their aspirations; Drake did just that.
“I always said that I wanted to be a politician. I had an early political interest,” explained Drake.
According to Drake’s campaign Instagram, she filed to run against incumbent Steve Riley, who is the current representative for House District 23, this past January. Ever since, Drake has been attending local community outings such as pancake breakfasts, arts and crafts fairs, and her favorite event, the farmers’ market.
Drake works in a garden, influencing her community
through healthy eating and fresh eating motives.
(Courtesy of LaToya Drake).
Drake serves as a nutrition educator at Barren County Middle School and also serves as the founder of the “Gtown SouL Swales” garden, a local initiative to decrease hunger in Glasgow by providing the community “soup kitchen” with fresh vegetables. She says that the farmers’ market is an opportunity to reach out to the community and especially her voters. Drake says that she is primarily basing her campaign on poverty and how the Glasgow/ Barren community can aid in the ending of it. And, according to Drake, she has based her life around this principle, growing up in poverty and realizing what life can be like, she chooses to remain positive. “Poverty and poorness is in the mind. As a young person, we try to be the difference,” exclaimed Drake.
But, making a difference can be difficult, according to Drake, especially regarding the ongoing pension crisis. The young candidate has a few ideas about funding the pension and one involves bringing industry to Kentucky. Riley has pushed bringing industry to the Bluegrass during his term, too. Drake said that this issue would generate money and hopefully funding for the corrupt pension, and she is determined to aid in the process of correcting it. Being an educator herself, Drake told the students, “It’s my pension, too. We need industry and we need money from those industries.”
Due to a recent article and study published, Drake admitted that bringing industry to Glasgow could potentially be a problem, speaking that Glasgow is the poorest city in the Commonwealth. A lack of interest exist within companies when considering moving business here to such a poor area, but this is what Drake would like to change. She wants to encourage business and industry to come to the area and likewise generate money and jobs for residents and the state, too. According to Drake, using the community and upholding it is important. “We need to preserve a good community and get active in the community,” explained Drake.
Aside from her hopes if elected, Drake is focusing on her campaign. She explained that she wants to bring about change in a new way to Glasgow through her campaign. From community-based programs to universal programs benefiting people, Drake said that she feels like she could do this if elected.
Throughout her campaign, Drake has kept in mind that she will have a more difficult road than that of her opponent due to her gender and race, but she feels as if she can bring about more change than Riley has, especially with funding of state programs.
When asked by a student about what advantage she has over Riley, Drake responded, “Well, I haven’t seen any evidence that Riley has worked to get funding.” Although Riley serves on multiple committees, he serves on a workforce development committee, seeming ironic to Drake who finds no evidence of funding and job development.
Drake also shared with students that she is a strong supporter of public education. She admitted that Riley chose to vote YEA on a bill in support of charter schools; HB 520. This is not an acceptable vote for sake of Kentucky students, according to Drake.
Drake stands aside women at a Women’s March held this past
February in Lexington, Kentucky. (Courtest of LaToya Drake).
With an education crisis, other political motives may seem minute, but Drake has intentions of incorporating other policies and ideas into her term if elected. Drake hopes to bring a homeless shelter to the area, following her commitment to lower the rate of poverty and hunger. She also has intentions of bringing medicinal marijuana to the Commonwealth and varying gun laws, such as toughening the process of obtaining a gun. But, Drake mentioned to students, “I’m a Kentucky girl, and you can’t take my guns away.” Drake expressed that she is upset by gun violence and saddened that kids have to live in a time where it is a common occurrence, but she is determined to aid in the development of more gun laws without constricting citizens’ rights.
Drake has plans to begin campaigning when schools go on summer break. She said that she will begin “door-knocking” and sharing her thoughts with potential voters.
Drake currently serves as a member of the BRASS (Barren River Area Safe Space) Board of Directors, with an initiative to offer domestic violence victims a “safe place.” She has worked at First Steps, an early intervention program, where she served as a social counselor.
This summer, Drake will also be hosting a “work-day”/camp for students to help with her community garden efforts.
Any additional information regarding Drake or her campaign can be found on her social media at: “drakefordistrict23.”
Brennan Crain is the Editor-in-Chief of The Trojan Times. Crain is the co-founder of the Burgundy Media Network, a multimedia news program at Barren County High School, formed in the spring of 2017. Crain has served for two years and also is a news anchor for BCHS Today.