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Daniel Whitley is challenging Rep. George Brown in the Democratic primary

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The House District 77 Democratic primary is about experience versus youth.

It’s a cliché in politics, but the contrast is true in the case of Daniel Whitley and Rep. George Brown Jr., D-Lexington, who are both pursuing it.

If re-elected, Brown could be the only Democratic House member in 2025 who still remembers what it’s like to serve in the majority. He emphasizes the importance of leveraging the relationships he has already built in Frankfort — a rare asset for Democrats.

As an example, Brown cited his advocacy for $3.5 million in this year’s state highway plan to complete Citation Boulevard between Newtown Pike and Russell Cave Road on Lexington’s north side.

Whitley wonders if what Brown has accomplished in his decade of representation in Frankfort — before that he served on the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council for 12 years — is enough.

“We know what we currently have, and the question is: do we want more?” Whitley, a local attorney, wrote.

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Meanwhile, Brown argues that Whitley is out of touch with the realities of making laws in a minority as small as the Democrats in the House of Representatives.

House District 77 includes much of the northern part of downtown and the historically Black East End of Lexington. It also extends to neighborhoods along Newtown Pike and Georgetown Road, as well as those near Masterson Station Park.

The district is the only majority-minority district in Kentucky outside of Louisville.

Early this month, Brown had a fundraising advantage over Whitley: about $34,000 to $19,000.

Here’s how the candidates responded to a survey about their backgrounds, the future of the Democratic party in Kentucky, the issues and more.

Representative George Brown Jr.

What about your personal and professional background makes you best suited to serve?

I have been a social and youth advocate for over 60 years. I have worked at the University of Kentucky with the Bluegrass Employment Training program as a finance person and have worked with a number of children in summer youth programs and year-round programs. So I have experience working in the community and have a serious reputation with people as someone who has a listening ear and is there to work with people in the community.

Furthermore, my work in the legislature speaks for itself, as I have had to work against insurmountable odds. With the disparity between Democratic and Republican representation in the General Assembly, it’s hard, but you have to do the hard things and go to work every day and do the people’s work. That’s what I’ve done consistently in my 10 years in the General Assembly.

What would be your top three issues in Frankfort in the next term?

Number 1 is women’s health care and women’s autonomy over their bodies.

Number 2 is public education.

Voting rights for Commonwealth citizens, and voting rights for ex-felons – automatic reinstatement after people serve this sentence and pay all restitution.

The Democrats have a choice to make in this election. Why would they choose you instead of your opponent?

I think experience is important. Obviously, I have experience and have served in the General Assembly and worked in the legislative process. My opponent is a lawyer and doesn’t have that, and I don’t think he can count. We need 51, 50 plus one votes to pass legislation. We are woefully short – 31 votes short.

Currently, Republicans control the flow of legislation in Frankfort. How can the Democratic Party become more relevant and change that reality?

How can we get more balance in the General Assembly? I think of an educated electorate and people voting, especially in rural areas. There is a serious rural-urban divide in Kentucky. They have the numbers in the rural areas and it’s important that we address those areas in the rural areas of our state. It’s hard for people running to get the money and/or support. It takes some serious intestinal fortitude for rural folks to think in terms of running.

Daniel Whitley

What about your personal and professional background makes you best suited to serve?

I graduated with a degree in political science from the University of Kentucky, as well as a juris doctorate from Florida A&M College of Law. I have more than 13 years of experience in the legal profession. Combining my background in the study of political science with my experience in law puts me in a unique position to understand how the laws are made, how they are interpreted and how they are enforced. In addition, as a father, I am passionate about the future of our neighborhood and I want to fight to preserve the rich history of my neighborhood. Finally, I am blessed to be a vocal leader in my district and have been the voice for the voiceless for over a decade.

What would be your top three issues in Frankfort in the next term?

The three most important issues facing our district are ensuring proper funding for public education and the fight to protect teachers responsible for the education and development of the next generation. Second, fight to protect proper funding for Kentucky State University. In the 77th District, Kentucky State University alumni have played a critical role in developing our future leaders. Additionally, given the nursing shortage across Kentucky, funding for their nursing program will be just as important to assist in providing care as it will be to the future demand to provide care to our aging population. Finally, fight for proper funding for our local community colleges. While a four-year degree is appreciated, the future in trades and technology will be needed to assist in the struggle to equip workers with future workplace development demands.

The Democrats have a choice to make in this election. Why would they choose you instead of your opponent?

We need to have an honest conversation. What have we received from our current state representative over the past decade? I ask Democrats for the opportunity to be a stronger voice in times when our voice has been diluted. I am passionate about the future of my community and have the energy to bring attention to our issues. So the choice is simple: what do we want? We know what we currently have, and the question is: do we want more?

Currently, Republicans control the flow of legislation in Frankfort. How can the Democratic Party become more relevant and change that reality?

Stand up and fight! It’s time we stop the defeated mentality; we are powerful no matter our numbers. We will fight and use technology to be heard, we will organize to use our voices to be recognized, and we will, in time, rise again for the voice of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.