Speaker 1 00:00:32 Hello and welcome to moving forward. I'm Bruce Michael's publisher of Ford, Kentucky. I can tell you from experience that running for office is pretty much a full-time job. I can also tell you from experience that teaching is definitely a full-time job. So how does somebody who is a full-time teacher expect to run a full-time campaign? And in addition, this particular teacher does some really interesting extra work for this person, students. Well, we're about to find out because we're going to interview Chris priests who is running for Congress. Let's listen. So I'm talking today with Chris priests who has filed for the 20, 22 elections, Chris priests, welcomed to move in Kentucky forward.
Speaker 2 00:01:27 Thank you. Excited to be here.
Speaker 1 00:01:29 So just for the sake of our listeners, what exactly did you file for and why?
Speaker 2 00:01:37 Uh, so I've filed for us Congress, uh, for Kentucky six districts and I filed well, uh, you know, that, that goes back to January 6th. Uh, I've been a high school chemistry teacher for about 11 years now, and really didn't see myself in politics, uh, that much, you know, I've been active in terms of, um, you know, keeping myself informed, maybe, you know, dropping some flyers for candidates off and, and things like that. But, uh, um, but in terms of me, myself running, uh, I, I didn't see that happening until after January six happened and, and seeing the crisis that our country is in. And, and that, you know, we had domestic terrorists attacking our capital and trying to threaten our democracy. And I couldn't, I couldn't stay in the hideaway by and, and, and do nothing. And so I took some time and really thought about, uh, what I could do to try to, uh, to, to try to stand up to this kind of insanity and nonsense.
Speaker 2 00:02:53 And, uh, upon that reflection, I felt like, well, there's no, there's no greater thing that I could do than if I just ran myself. And, um, looking at, at the, uh, the current district that I'm in with, with us Congress, uh, we have Andy BARR as our representative. And, you know, he is, he is, he, he doesn't make the headlines nationally, but he is certainly, uh, in heel toe with, uh, with a lot of the far right agenda. Um, and you know, he, he, he doesn't come out and really outright condemn a lot of what they say. He just tries to maneuver around and not say a whole lot, but if you subscribe to his emails, uh, his email lists, you, you certainly see a lot of that very extremist kind of rhetoric coming from him, really. Yeah. And so, you know, he, uh, he's sneaky about it, but it's there. And, you know, I, I see that as part of the problem.
Speaker 1 00:04:03 That's interesting because Andy BARR has always struck me as relatively non-controversial and milk toast almost. And it's interesting to find out that his emails reveal a little bit different side. So your experience has been volunteering for campaigns and such. Have you gone through any training about how to be a candidate or gotten any help from anybody about that?
Speaker 2 00:04:30 Oh yeah, absolutely. This past year has been a long, uh, and very diligent process of understanding how to run a campaign, making all the connections and necessary, uh, within, uh, within the democratic party here. And, uh, and just under going through and understanding the entire process, um, nuts to bolts. And, you know, as a, as a teacher, you know, uh, I'm, I'm pretty, uh, diligent about, about quite a bit, especially when it comes to learning and sending my setting goals for myself and things, and, uh, and also acquiring the, the help that I need and being able to assess, you know, where I feel like I really need help in and getting people on board to, to help me in those areas. And, uh, I feel, uh, pretty, pretty good about where we are right now in the campaign, the people that we have, uh, that, that have been here and that are coming in as, as we grow.
Speaker 2 00:05:30 Um, and, and just continuing to reach out and see that, uh, people around the district, uh, have, have a lot of the same kind of feelings towards our politics. In general, we just fed up, you know, we're, we're, we're sick of the institutionalized career politicians that don't give a rat's behind about the regular person. And it's been that way for a long time. And now we're really seeing it come to a head. And, you know, I wrote an op-ed for the Lexington Herald quiet, uh, a few months ago about the filing deadline. And they, they give me one op ed for the pro for the primary. And I, I spend it trying to convince other people to step up and run, because we need citizen legislators, people who are not in this for personal gain to just serve the community and the people, um, and, you know, and, and until we are able to infiltrate all levels of government with folks like that who are willing to step up and serve, um, you know, we're gonna continue to see this kind of problem that we're having. And, and I, I hope that, that, that, that, uh, op ed really reached some people to, to, to step up and run it at whatever level could be magistrate level, dog, catcher, whatever, um, because we need it up and down the ballot.
Speaker 1 00:06:58 So let's, let's spend just a minute talking about the nuts and bolts, as you said, you mentioned people. Do you have a staff either paid or volunteer?
Speaker 2 00:07:09 Yes. Most I have some paid
Speaker 1 00:07:11 Really good. So you have a campaign manager? Yes. Excellent. Yeah, when I ran, uh, it's, it's funny because I was talking to somebody the other day, and I said, your best campaign is usually your second one, because you learn all the things you did wrong in the first one. And, uh, maybe I'm hoping for your sake that you're labeled to learn from other people's experience. Uh, I didn't get a campaign manager and that's, that was a mistake I wound up doing too much myself. Okay. So you have staff, you have volunteers, you have some money. Uh, let's talk about the district. How did it affect you to see the redistricting happened? Obviously they moved some people around to make it better for Mr. BARR. Uh, did that affect your thinking? Did you think, well, maybe I'm not going to do this after all?
Speaker 2 00:08:05 Um, no, that did not. It did not, uh, really bother me or budge me at all. Uh, because at the end of the day, it's about delivering a message that, uh, that, that tries to unify us as a, as a people and not necessarily, you know, just trying to condemn like, uh, and say evil things about one side versus another or whatever. There are, there are good people. We have, we have good Kentucky ins here that care about other Kentucky wins. And a lot of us, you know, whether Republican Democrat, independent, whatever that are tired of our current politics and tired of what's going on. And my message. And, uh, and, and what, uh, what we're all about is, is really showing that we need a functional government, someone who's actually going to stand up and work for us, listen to us. Um, because Andy BARR, at the end of the day, in his 10 years of, of being in service, uh, has, has sponsored three bills, that it went into law.
Speaker 2 00:09:17 And in those three bills in 10 years, uh, one was to rename the VA in, in Lexington. Another was for a commemorative coin for the hundreds, uh, or the hundredth year from the silver corn, I believe. And, and the third was to change some credit hours in a, in a, um, stem scholarship program. So effectively the three bills that he has passed has helped almost no one, um, and, you know, good, uh, good Congress, people that are in there for the same amount of time are, are passing and getting into law, you know, 60, 70 bills within that, within that timeframe. Um, now it's, uh, and it's, and within those three bills, it's not even as if he has, he has proposed or, uh, yeah. Uh, supported hundreds of bills. It it's literally, he's just he's well, w what I'm from Martin county and, and, uh, basically the way I see it, he's on the draw.
Speaker 2 00:10:30 Um, you know, he's just taking money from us and not doing anything for us. Uh, and that's just, that's just got to stop. We're all tired that we want. We want people to, to earn their money and we want them, we want to help the folks out that are, that are in trouble. Um, and you know, there, there's, there's a whole slate of issues, but our message is at the, at the end of the day, is that, uh, we got to come together as Americans, um, you know, not Democrat, not Republican, not independent. And, um, you know, that, that's just something Andy par, uh, is, is not working for. He's just, you know, from, from his voting record, he's, that's not what he's about.
Speaker 1 00:11:14 So I'm assuming that, uh, I mean, I understand your comment, you just made about not being democratic or Republican or independent, you are registered as a Democrat, correct? Yes. Okay. That's what I thought. Uh, so do you have a primary, is anybody else running as a Democrat in this district?
Speaker 2 00:11:33 Jeff Young is also, uh, um, running for, uh, as my Democrat opponent. Yeah.
Speaker 1 00:11:41 Okay. So between school, which is certainly a full-time job plus, and COVID, how have you been able to get out and meet people? Have you, how are you contacting voters and, and getting your name out there?
Speaker 2 00:11:57 Yeah. Uh, great question. So I started, uh, getting my, trying to get my name out there and everything in the summer, because I knew that the, the school year was going to be rough and, uh, and my time was going to be a little limited here. And so I started way back then and, and, uh, you know, getting out, meeting people, um, building the relationships that I know need to be built. And, uh, and since school has started, you know, I, I work in the evenings and on weekends, um, and, and really calling people or going out to whatever meetings that I could, that, uh, that are around. And like, uh, this Friday, there's going to be a block party at gray line gray station in Lexington. And, um, you know, th that has some nice, uh, um, you know, vendors and things, and we'll have people there.
Speaker 2 00:12:53 And so I'll go and I'll mingle. Uh, I also go to, uh, as many churches as possible and talk to people now, I'm not necessarily like trying to hard line campaign at a church. I, there there's some that, that, uh, I have some moral, uh, barriers there for, for that, but, but to go there, um, you know, talk to the preacher pass or whatever, and, you know, have some conversations, build some relationships with people, uh, that, that go to that church and, uh, see what their concerns are because at the end of the day, you know, um, whether, you know, I'm, I'm outright saying, Hey, vote for me or whatever. I'm not necessarily asking that when I'm going to churches, I'm, I'm just, uh, telling them who I am. And I would like to know what, uh, what their concerns are and their community, and, and to see, you know, how we can help. Um, and that that's the most, that's the most important parts, uh, to this, uh, in, in going and reaching people.
Speaker 1 00:13:58 Have you talked to Amy McGrath any about her experience running in that district?
Speaker 2 00:14:04 I have reached out to her. I have not heard back yet. Okay.
Speaker 1 00:14:07 So as you've been talking to people, I understand that that one of the issues that, that probably was the issue that really, uh, drove you to the decision to run is the, the tenor of the politics in our country, and even in your district and the us against them sort of feel, and if I'm wrong about that, correct me. Uh, but, but I suspect there are certain specific issues that voters in your district want to talk about and want to see addressed. What would be the top, say two or three or four things that people speak to you about and say, I really want to get this fixed.
Speaker 2 00:14:46 Yeah. Uh, great question. So one is, is our system. So I'm, uh, the only us term limits candidate in this race from, from any side that you're, you're looking at, um, you know, and that, that, that speaks to the, the system that we have right now, you know, to get to drive out those institutionalized career politicians. We need to try to fix that part of, of our system. Um, the, the second, uh, me being an educator is fully funding our education. And, uh, you know, th and I'm talking pre pre-K through college and trade schools, and that looks, you know, like supporting our children, our children are our future, and just, uh, our schools have been so underfunded and, and cut for so long that, um, you know, teachers have too, too big of a class loads. And, you know, uh, and then when you start looking at, at college, you know, the, the burden, the cost of burden on college students is overwhelming. And the, uh, you know, and as high schools, I'm a high school teacher too often. Uh, the perception is that we're trying to funnel students to college, and that's just, we can't be doing that. Um, the students need to be, make the best choice for themselves, whether that be college trade or, or what have you. Um, and they need better access to that.
Speaker 1 00:16:20 So, uh, I said three or four, you've named the system itself and you named education. So what would the third and fourth be?
Speaker 2 00:16:31 So a third would be healthcare, you know, we've got to get to where it's prices that we can pay. Okay. We're, we're getting priced out of healthcare, uh, left and right. Whether, whether it be hospitals charging too much or health, uh, uh, the insurance cartels really driving, uh, driving it too much, um, in terms of price, like just a few years ago, uh, I have a prescription that, that, that I get, and a few years ago it was $5 this year. It's 20, you know, uh, that, that kind of skyrocketing price really is, is, uh, you know, uh, an unseen tax on, on, on the American people here. And that's just not the worst of it. Like my wife and I just had our firstborn son and he, uh, you know, that was $5,000 a pop. There it is. And there's, there's so many like, uh, exemptions that the, uh, that the insurance cartels we'll, we'll put in, you know, we really need a, a patient's bill of rights that will ensure that we get what we're paying for.
Speaker 2 00:17:40 You know, if we're having to pay all these skyrocket prices, they better sure. Uh, you know, uh, pay for, for what we're, what we're in. Um, but, uh, but, but we've got to get the prices down. Absolutely. And then, uh, the, the fourth thing, uh, I would say is we've got to get good jobs, you know, there's, uh, you know, people want to talk about, uh, there being a, uh, a labor shortage. There's not a labor shortage, there's a shortage of good, good paying jobs. Um, you know, people will go out and work. They want to earn their money that they get. Um, now certainly there's, there's going to be some people who won't work for nothing. You know, that's, that's just the case when you've got millions of people, there's going to be a very small fraction percentage that are do that. I understand that, but the, the vast majority of people, uh, want to earn their money and have a sense of self worth of, of the work that they're putting in.
Speaker 2 00:18:36 And we've got to, we've got to incentivize that and also think more local, um, you know, oftentimes big politicians will come, come in and say, they want to bring in these huge jobs like Ford did this year did with Ford and kudos to him. Um, you know, I'll clap for that. Um, but, uh, but those don't happen very often. You know, you know, we, we've got to wait a decade and then we'll get another big one. Well, you know, what happened? What's happened in the, in the meantime, in that decade, you know, we got to focus on, um, really growing local economies, especially rural areas. You know, we've got an issue with a quote-unquote brain drain, uh, from rural areas that brought young talent, uh, you know, leaving the area and going somewhere else because they can't find a job well, what if we create an incentivize, um, growing the Rowan jobs there with, with allowing them resources and equity to start their own business and kind of foster that as they go.
Speaker 2 00:19:37 Now, if we've got enough of that, of the folks creating their own business, uh, over time, we're going to see some growth in that and them hired more and more people. Well, you know, they, they get to shape their own community. They get to invest in their own community and really get to, um, prosper and, and see that grow within itself. And, you know, I, I think that'll, uh, keep some, keeps some jobs around, uh, for people at home in these rural communities. It'll also give more sense of pride. Um, you know, um, I'm certainly am proud to be from Martin county, even though, you know, there's, there's a lot of stuff that went on in Martin county with the water pollution and, and so on. That's, that's terrible. Um, and I know a lot of good people that I grew up with that have gone on and are doing really good things, uh, but elsewhere, not a whole lot of people stayed. Um, and, and it's unfortunate that, uh, that that's happening to some of our smaller communities. And so I think that there's ways that we can incentivize that, uh, for people to stay and also grow those jobs that we know that we need.
Speaker 1 00:20:47 So if you were, this is the question that I ask every candidate I ever interviewed. So let me ask you two last questions. The first one is, is there anything I haven't asked you about that you wish I had or anything you wanted to bring up that we haven't talked about?
Speaker 2 00:21:05 Um, maybe my big captain America shield Becker.
Speaker 1 00:21:09 I see the captain America shield, for sure.
Speaker 2 00:21:13 Yeah. Um, so, you know, just a bit of background about me, like, you know, I'm a high school chemistry teacher here in Berea, and I'm, uh, also a huge comic book fan. I love the Marvel DC movies and stuff like that. Um, but I also have ADHD and found it hard to read while I was growing up. Uh, and, you know, uh, but, but comics were always there for me. The, the visual narrative, the visual of it, uh, really spoke to me. It was, it was easier to read. I could pull a lot more information out. And, um, you know, one of the ways that I've been tried that I have worked to engage my students, uh, has been creating science comics for them. Uh, so not only do I enjoy, uh, reading comics, I will make a bright and sometimes draw. Normally I'll try to get a friend to draw, uh, the, uh, science comics so they can, they can learn in, uh, in, uh, learn the material in a different way. A lot of folks think chemistry is really hard. Um, and it's because, you know, it takes a lot of knowledge between, uh, um, you know, it's almost like learning a language, uh, for the first time. And you've got all this, all these different pieces of knowledge you gotta, you gotta put together. And so I think comics really do a great job of putting all those together and making it easier for folks to learn and understand.
Speaker 1 00:22:37 That's very cool. I wish I had known about that beforehand. I might have started with that because that's very interesting. So here's my last question. We're not in an time right now, where door knocking is really practical, but let's pretend for the moment that you have come and knocked on my door and I've opened the door and I look at you and I say, why should I vote for you? What do you say?
Speaker 2 00:23:01 I say that, well, tell me what your interests are. I'm here because I care, uh, I'm, I'm a high, like I said before, I'm a high school chemistry teacher. And the there's one thing that I have, I have learned in all my years of teaching. And I was told this, so my first year of teaching, my students don't care how much I know. They only know how much I care. And I think that that is true in politics. And I am standing here today in front of your door because I care. And I want to listen to your concerns and I want to be there for you. I want to be standing in Washington, uh, representing you and fighting for the things that you care about. Because, you know, when we, when we think about it, in terms of, uh, all of the people in this district, there's going to be a lot of overlap between the things that we care about. Um, and, uh, uh, and I want to be there and making sure that that is done because right now it's not being done. CRISPR
Speaker 1 00:24:01 Who draws science comic books and teaches science, but also is running for Congress in the sixth district. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for being with us today.
Speaker 2 00:24:14 Yeah. Thank you, Bruce. This is a lot of fun.
Speaker 1 00:24:17 I want to thank Chris priests for his time for the interview. And I want to say that I agree with him. We need more citizen legislators, people who are running to serve the public. Not because they're looking for a career, but they're taking time off from their main career to serve for a while so that we have good government. I wish him the best and hope he does well running against Andy BARR. Thank you for listening. And we'll see you in the next podcast.