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SHEPHERDSVILLE – It's a matter that government can do better; it's a matter that government must do better.
With that in mind, John Spainhour has jumped into the ring as a candidate for the 20th District state senate seat. The position is open at year's end as incumbent Gary Tapp opted to not run for re-election.
Though the attorney from Shepherdsville has never officially run for political office, he has plenty of campaign experience.
Among his father-in-law, veteran attorney and former state legislator Thomas Givhan, and his wife, Elise, who is now Bullitt Circuit Family Court judge, Spainhour has been involved in politics for years.
As an observer of the national and state scene, Spainhour said it is easy to see that changes are needed in government.
"We're in tough times," said Spainhour, 58. "Government has got to do better. We have no choice."
Running for office was not something Spainhour woke up daily and felt he had to do. However, many people encouraged him to make a run at the senate seat.
In talking with voters in Bullitt, Shelby and Spencer counties, he said their concerns and issues are very similar.
And it is the feeling of giving back to the community that pushed him into a bid for his first political office.
A conservative Democrat, who will face David Eaton of Shelbyville in the spring primary, he said taxation and gaming is not the way Kentucky will get out of its financial situation.
But at the same time finances are tight, Spainhour said Kentucky can't make cuts in education funding or social services.
Growth is the key to recovery, as well as a continuing effort to tighten the state's spending belt.
"It's a time for belt tightening," he said. "You can't tax yourself out of this."
He is personally against casino gambling, but he is in favor of letting the people have a say at the polls on what they desire.
The 20th District is right in the heart of growth potential, and Spainhour said the recent inclusion of Shelby County in the Harley-Davidson plant considerations proves that this area is ripe for jobs.
Even though the plant stayed in Pennsylvania, Spainhour said it placed a focal point on the potential in Shelby County and the region for major employers.
There will be no simple solutions to the state's economic woes during the next 4-year term.
Spainhour said the 20th District has not been getting its share of infrastructure assistance from the state and that must improve.
Though some funds are tight, Spainhour said he believes there must be money spent on things that will provide more jobs to the state.
Another important issue during the next term will be redistricting. Bullitt County has four state representatives, and Spencer County has three House representatives. Spainhour said those numbers need to be decreased.
Finally, Spainhour said he hopes his negotiating skills in the courtroom might help with some of the political fighting that prevents many things from being accomplished in Frankfort.
"There must be some spirit of cooperation," he said. "People are tired of seeing the two sides constantly bicker."
Representing three counties should not be a problem in terms of making sure all have an equal voice in Frankfort.
"There are many issues and concerns which are common for all three counties," he said. "I will be up there fighting for the needs of each, no matter where I may live.
“I will be a representative for this entire district," he added. "No one will be slighted because of the county where they live."
In talking with the people, Spainhour said job security is a primary concern. They want the government to help ensure a quality education, security and a nice place to raise a family.
"Government ought to provide the foundation of essential services," Spainhour said. "We can do better and we must do better. And we're running out of time."
The winner of the Democratic primary will face either Republican David Glauber of Taylorsville or Paul Hornback of Shelbyville in the fall general election.