Speaker 1 00:00:21 Hello and welcome to moody Kentucky forward. I'm Bruce Maples publisher forward, Kentucky. As we watch people file for various offices in the upcoming 2022 elections. Sometimes we are surprised by seeing an incumbent challenged, uh, in a way we didn't expect this is the case in house district 30, where Dr. Neil Turpin, a young professional in Louisville is challenging. Tom Burch. I have to say right up front that, uh, Dr. Turpin is a contributor to forward Kentucky. Uh, he writes policy articles for us, and he's very, very good at it, but I wanted to interview him and try to be as objective as possible in asking him about his campaign and why he's running. So here is Dr. Neil Turpin talking about why he decided to file for this race. So I'm here today with Dr. Neil Turpin, who is, uh, running for, uh, the legislature, uh, Dr. Turpin, welcome to moving Kentucky forward
Speaker 2 00:01:24 And various thanks for having
Speaker 1 00:01:26 Me, as I said in my intro, uh, you are a contributor to, for Kentucky. And so, uh, I know you fairly well, but I'm sure our listeners do not. So before we get talking about campaigns and such, why don't you tell us a little bit just about yourself?
Speaker 2 00:01:44 Yeah. Um, as you mentioned, I've been with, uh, writing for, for Kentucky for six years now, spec when it was a progress Louisville, which I have enjoyed immensely, but I am, I have a couple of jobs. I'm a city planner and I am a professor at UFL, uh, where I teach public policy and administration. I have a PhD in urban and public affairs from U of L a and kind of worked my way into teaching from that. Um, but I've been writing for Ford Kentucky for about six years. Uh, love policy. Uh, I live in, uh, the Klondike mutual area kind of on that border, um, with my, uh, family, my wife, Sarah, my two kids, Luke and Nora. Now we are, um, I'm from this area originally, I grew up in, in this, uh, in this neighborhood, but we attend beautiful park Baptist church where my wife is, uh, currently serving as the acting or interim pastor. Um, so she's, uh, she's been there for a while. We're pretty involved with that with the church. Um, but yeah, so that's, that's a bit of my background.
Speaker 1 00:02:53 Okay. Uh, so let's just get right to it. So what exactly have you filed run for?
Speaker 2 00:03:00 I have filed to run for state representative, uh, Kentucky state representative in district 30, uh, which is the core of that district is the geographically is beautiful. Uh, but it extends north in Bon air, um, east into Klondike. Uh, it also extends into Newburgh and south into the, um, kind of undefined area, just north of Fern Creek. Uh, it's not really a, uh, an official neighborhood, but, um, a lot of north Fern Creek area around GE appliance park and in that region. So,
Speaker 1 00:03:34 And the thing that I think struck everybody when word got out, the two were filing was the fact that this is traditionally a heavily democratic district. Uh, usually whoever wins the democratic primary winds up winning the general election. So who are you running against?
Speaker 2 00:03:54 I'm currently running against representative Tom Burch. He is the incumbent, um, and he has been in office for a while in the area. So he's, he's, well-known in the area and in Kentucky politics and in democratic politics more, uh, more specifically. So, uh, that is currently the, uh, the situation, the state of the race. It's two people have filed so far. I'm one of them. Uh, the other is, um, representative Birch
Speaker 1 00:04:23 And he has been in Frankfurt for a long time. He is, he is an incumbent that pretty much never gets challenged because everybody expects him to win every time. So my reaction when I heard that you were running besides the fact that I think a lot of you, and I think that you would make a great legislator in your own, right, is why, why file against Tom Burch of all people?
Speaker 2 00:04:52 Well, there, there are a couple of things. One, he has been challenged recently. He had a primary opponent in 2020, and actually two opponents in 2018. Um, so he has faced some primary challenges just recently. Um, but as far as why I am running, uh, this really isn't my decision to run or to file at least, um, is not really about, um, you know, it's not really about Tom. This is about, this is bigger than that. Um, it's just the right time for me to run personally in the right time for our community. Um, I have been involved in this community for a while. I've been on the precinct committee for going on six years at this point. Uh, I've been very involved with our church. Um, and I have a lot of respect for, for representative Birch. I've known him for a while through the precinct committee capacity. Um, and I've been thinking about running this for awhile. Uh, this wasn't a, a whim, uh, it's not something I just decided to do this year or anything. I've been thinking about this race for a little bit. And he was aware of that. Um, but ultimately this was just the right time for me to run personally.
Speaker 1 00:05:59 Okay. Um, what did your wife say when you told her you were thinking about this?
Speaker 2 00:06:06 She's been very supportive. Uh, I, this, again, this is not a new thing. So I've been discussing it with, uh, with her for a while. There it's been a couple of years just saying, you know, I'm interested in running a, this would be, I think, a good position for me to run for. And she's been very supportive and very encouraging. She is my absolute biggest cheerleader and, um, I cannot be grateful enough for her support.
Speaker 1 00:06:32 Okay. So that's somewhat expected that your family would be supporting you. What about the local party? What kind of reaction have you gotten from Democrats across Louisville, from party leadership from people in Frankfurt? What's, what's been the reaction?
Speaker 2 00:06:48 Um, I haven't gotten much reaction from partying leadership. I haven't had much contact with either the, with the KTP or anything like that. Um, from other people who are, who were very involved politically, uh, from people who have run for office themselves, uh, or for, uh, from various groups, they've all been very supportive. Um, I've, I've, again, I've been pretty involved, so I know a lot of them already and they know me well pretty well. Um, and when they found out that I was running, they were, they were pretty encouraging about that.
Speaker 1 00:07:20 So it's not too soon to be thinking about money. It's never too soon to be thinking about money and it's not too soon to be thinking about staff and strategy and so on and so forth. So let's dig into a couple of other things. Do you have any, do you have any campaign staff yet either paid or volunteer?
Speaker 2 00:07:39 Um, none paid. Um, I am, um, my wife is helping me a lot with social media stuff. Uh, she's better at it than I am. And, uh, I've currently got a treasurer. Um, that is my, my dad who is a lapsed accountant, uh, is serving as the campaign treasurer. Um, but that is the extent of, I guess my staff. Um, but I've already had some people who have offered to volunteer, to knock on doors when door knocking weather comes around. Um, but as far as paid staff, I don't have any, um, there's no paid staff at this point.
Speaker 1 00:08:12 Okay. How's your fundraising going?
Speaker 2 00:08:15 It's going pretty well. Uh, I have, I've been asking around about what a respectable amount of money to raise is, and the figures I get her all over the board. Uh, well, you need 3000 or you need 30,000 and they're there. So, um, it's going pretty well, especially this early. And I've had a lot of contributors, a lot of small dollar donors, which I appreciate, um, they add up and I think numbers of the numbers, uh, can a lot more sometimes than the, the amount. Um, but, but the, the fundraising has gone pretty well. The, uh, the reaction has been pretty good and a lot of people that I've known for a while, uh, has supported me pretty well. And that means a lot, uh, to, you know, when people from, from your church and people that you went to college with, or people that you, you know, from high school or elementary school that they, that they trust you enough to, um, or believe in you enough in what you're doing to, uh, open their wallets or open their checkbooks and make a donation, your campaign that's meant a lot to have their support, um, has been incredible.
Speaker 2 00:09:23 Hmm.
Speaker 1 00:09:24 Um, before we go any further, uh, do you have a website,
Speaker 2 00:09:28 Uh, almost I've got Neil turpin.com, which I'm hoping will be active in the next couple of days. Um, so it, it is, if you go to it now, you will get anything, but I'm hoping, um, fingers crossed maybe by this weekend, we'll have it up and running. Okay,
Speaker 1 00:09:44 Good. Uh, I assume that since you filed representative Birch has not contacted you or said anything.
Speaker 2 00:09:53 No, he has not.
Speaker 1 00:09:54 Okay. Well, you know, hide the ask anyway. Um, okay. So you're, you're working on the website, you've got some fundraising going on. You don't have any paid staff yet, but you have some family volunteers and some other people who were, who are going to help, uh, let's get down to some specifics about, about what you want to do. So it's not just, I think I'd like to be an office. I'm sure that knowing you, you have some goals or some policy things that you really are passionate about. So why don't you throw some of those out there for us?
Speaker 2 00:10:30 Yeah. Um, to start off there, there is, there are a lot of policies, you know, this from my work at, for Kentucky, I've written a lot of about policies all over the board. Um, but some of the biggest ones, the most consequential policies that, um, supportive, um, they have to go through Frankfurt. There's a lot of stuff that the city can do. Um, so you know, the mayor of the Metro council, they can do a lot, uh, but some of the biggest stuff has to go through Frankfurt. So I'm an incredibly big supporter of raising the minimum wage. Ruleville tried to do that on its own. So it has to go through Frank, but it has to go through Frankfurt. They they'd be told us last time we did this. So there is a, there's a, there's a list of things that I want to do.
Speaker 2 00:11:16 And most of the biggest things would have to go through Frank. So, um, I just mentioned raising the minimum wage that might, might be the single biggest policy that I want to advocate for and Frankfurt, um, that I'm not alone in that most of the Democrats in Frankfurt would want to see a larger minimum wage, uh, might be on the high end of what they're advocating for, but, but still, um, I am a big proponent of expanding, uh, ballot access and making, voting, and elections easier. Um, I've got a, I don't know how detailed you want. I've got, um, just bullet points of, of these policy sections, um, about voting, many of which are issues that I've written about. Uh, so I believe that we need to have statewide ballot initiatives and same day voter registration, and automatic voter registration and publicly funded elections. And I think we should lower the voting age.
Speaker 2 00:12:10 I think we should restore voting rights to people who have been convicted of felonies and make early voting easier and make election day as a holiday. So I've got, these are not new ideas by any stretch of the imagination. A lot of Democrats in Frankfort have advocated for these before. Um, in terms of the economy, I went to raise the minimum wage. I'd like to see it raise to $20. Um, this is, I don't think it's too much at this point. There's the MIT has a living wage calculator and for a family of four, two working adults, they need to make just about $20 an hour to support themselves. I know for a while, $15 an hour has been the rallying cry, but that was that's been going on for 10 years. So even that at this point is not enough to help people have a living wage.
Speaker 2 00:12:58 Um, think the minimum wage for state employees needs to be even higher. I am very supportive of unions and want to work to protect labor. Um, uh, I want to establish a payday lending cap and district 30. There is a, uh, a glut of payday lenders. If you ever spend time at the bars town road in high slain intersection, there's about eight payday lenders, uh, that all operate, um, in a, in a, in a community with a really high level of, of immigrants, of, um, people from other countries of, of, um, people that are more economically vulnerable and they are taking advantage of our community. Um, district 30 is we're. Um, we are home to, I believe the largest percentage of foreign born individuals in the state. We're just, we're at about 19 or 20% of our population of our residents are born outside of the U S um, and a lot of them are being taken advantage of by petty lenders in the area. Um,
Speaker 1 00:14:05 Well, let me, let me interrupt you for a second, um, because you and are both policy walks and we could do this for awhile. So I running through that list, I don't see, or I don't hear, I should say a lot of things that Tom Burch would necessarily be against. Uh, he would probably be, you know, in favor of a lot of them and Democrats, particularly people like you and I, who are big into policy, tend to think that if we come with good policies, we're going to win. And I think that that's been proven to be false. So if you're out in the neighborhoods, if you're knocking on doors, or if you're doing a mailer, or even if you get enough money and you do an ad, uh, what are you going to say to people to say, you should vote for me instead of Tom Burch? Well, it's going to be that argument.
Speaker 2 00:15:03 Well, this race is about more than just district 30. Uh, we are this area, as you mentioned, is overwhelmingly democratic. We're the fifth most democratic district in the state. There's three and a half Democrats, forever Republican. Um, so this area is not going, is not at risk and whoever wins is going to be a pretty solid Democrat. Um, but there's just 25 Democrats in the house and just eight in the Senate and being one of 25, no matter who it is, isn't going to change very much. So we need someone, um, who can not just win this election, win this race, but help get other Democrats elected who can go out into the east dander and the Oldham and Shelly county and knock on doors and say, I'm going to Frankfort district 30, and I need you to send this candidate there with me so we can get something done for the people in this state.
Speaker 2 00:15:51 Uh, so it's, it's much bigger than just this than just this district. Um, it's about getting more Democrats elected across the board so we can actually do something. Um, the, the democratic party in, in Kentucky is in a pretty weak position right now. And if we don't get more people elected, that's going to, that's not going to change for many, many years. So it's not just about this specific race. I know, um, representative Birch has been a strong component of many of these policies, uh, as have most of the other Democrats in Frankfurt. Um, but we just need more Democrats. We need people who can get out the vote for other people who can help other candidates get elected, not in democratic strongholds, like district 30 or Louisville or Lexington, more, um, more broadly. We need people that can go out in other parts of the state and get this message across and help get other, other Democrats elected. Um, so we're not stuck with a quarter of the general assembly.
Speaker 1 00:16:55 So are you saying that you think that your not only your policy positions, but your candidacy and your ability to speak to people and your ability to, uh, connect with people would actually help elect more Democrats in other places?
Speaker 2 00:17:14 I think so. Um, I have a lot I'm from Louisville, but my family is not, I've got family in harden county and in Madison and thing it, and I've got family all over the state. So I'm familiar with, with other parts of the state and what they need. Um, I'm, I I've been following the, the races in Madison county, very closely, the, the special, the Senate seat, uh, the special election I was, that was my, my grandfather, my grandfather lives in that district. Um, so I've been a, um, following, not just local politics or district 30 politics. Um, but I have been engaged or I'm focused on politics statewide, and I want to see change, not just and Louisville or Lexington, but in the whole state.
Speaker 1 00:18:07 Okay. So, so let's wrap it up into, let me ask you to wrap it up into a sentence. So this is, this is the question that I ask every candidate I ever interview. It's always one of the ones I asked. So let's suppose that it's February or March or earlier than that, or whenever, and you're door knocking in district 30, and you stand on my porch and I answered the door and you say, uh, hi, I'm Neil Tarpon. I'm running for state house. And I look at you and say, why should I vote for you? What's your answer
Speaker 2 00:18:45 Because I'm from here, I know this area very well, and I know what the people in this community need. I'm a part of it. And I'm raising my family here, but Frankfurt is where the fight is. The fight is not here in district 30. Um, this is not going to change. District 30 alone is not going to change the course of this state, but getting out into Frankfurt and getting more Democrats there with me is, and that is something that can bring about real change that affects people, um, statewide, but specifically here, uh, in, in our community and in my neighborhood, um, change that be that's long overdue and would be very welcome.
Speaker 1 00:19:27 Okay. Let me ask you another question following up on that. Um, obviously there is an age difference between you and representative Birch. Uh, is there any thought on your part to come at this from a it's time for a new generation of Democrats? Have you, is that, is that part of what you might use or do you think that's unfair?
Speaker 2 00:19:52 I think that's a little unfair, um, representative Birch is older than I am. Um, but his, his policies are, um, they're, they're pretty in line with, with the rest of the Democrats in the state. Um, so I don't think it's a generational thing necessarily. This is just, this is the right time for me to run and I don't know what my actions would be if I was in a different district. If I was in, you know, Josie Raymond's district or Lisa Willner's district or Al Gentry's district, I don't where the, the age difference is smaller. So I don't know what I would do in that situation, but I like to think that I would have the same motivation, uh, regardless of where I lived and regardless of what district I was in or who my current, uh, representative was. So I, I don't think it's, I don't think playing the age, uh, aspect into this is really fair. And I, I don't really have any intention of doing that. I don't really want to do that. I want to make this more about, um, more about me, more about the issues, more about what we can do, uh, for the state and for the, for the, for our community.
Speaker 1 00:21:05 Okay, fair enough. Um, so I know that many times party leaders are unhappy when incumbents get challenged, because they are worried they're going to lose a seat, or they're worried that, that, um, uh, it's going to cost money that didn't have to be spent and for the primary and so on and so forth. Uh, but there are some instances of where the challenger turns out to be, uh, quite a force. Uh, and, um, I'm sure that, uh, our vendor Ocasio Cortez is right there on your mind as you think about this race. Um, so let's, let's assume for the sake of this interview that you don't win, let's assume that Tom Burch is returned to Frankfurt. Is this a one-off for you, or do you think you're going to keep trying to be involved in politics at the electoral level?
Speaker 2 00:22:05 Um, but I would absolutely be involved in politics, what that looks like, whether I run for a different office in the future. I don't know. Um, uh, I'm thinking about this election right now. This is my primary focus. Um, but I would, I would definitely be, be involved in electoral politics in some capacity, whether I was running or working on another campaign or, um, advising another campaign or just knocking on doors for other campaigns. That's not going to change. I've been doing that for goodness 14, 15 years at this point. Um, so I don't think my involvement is going to slow down any after this, but this is the only election I'm focused on right now.
Speaker 1 00:22:51 Okay. Uh, Dr. Neil Turpin, and in a couple of days, he hopes we'll have Neal turpin.com where people can go to donate, uh, and volunteer and all that good stuff. Um, Dr. Turpin, thank you for your time. Thank you for making time in the midst of teaching and working and raising two small excitable, energetic children. Uh, thank you for taking the time for this interview. We wish you all the very best.
Speaker 2 00:23:27 Well, thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
Speaker 1 00:23:31 That was Dr. Neil Turpin, who is running for state house in district 30 as a Democrat. And this is his first race. As I noted at the beginning, he is a contributor to forward Kentucky, a very good one. And somebody that I value a lot in terms of his insights and his work on policy, this race puts me in something of a bind because Tom Burch has been an excellent legislator and is really a, uh, almost a Dean of legislators in Frankfurt. And yet I think that Neil Turpin would be just a wonderful legislator. And I think he would bring so much to the table, uh, both in terms of his insights into policy, but also his passion for making things better for everyday people. The good news about this race is that no matter which wins, their district wins and the state wins. So we're going to wish them both luck for now. And I'm going to be watching this race, particularly because of our friendship with Dr. Turpin. That's all for us for this episode of moving Kentucky forward. Uh, if you enjoy it, please share it with others and subscribe using your podcast tool of choice. Thank you very much. We'll see you next week.