ELECTION PREVIEW: Young Democrat challenges veteran Rogers for 5th congressional district | Local News

It will be a battle of the ages in November for Kentucky’s 5th District in the United States House of Representatives. Holder Harold “Hal” Rogers (R) is challenged by Conor Halbleib (D). Besides the expected ideological differences, a very noticeable difference between the candidates is their respective ages. Rogers is 84 and Halbleib is 30.

Conor Halbleib

Halbleib, who lives in Louisville, is a recent law school graduate and is currently studying for the bar exam while campaigning to unseat a man who was installed in the United States House of Representatives long before he was born.

“It made sense to me,” he said of his decision to run for Congress. “I know I can do the job. It’s not like I’m applying for a job I can’t do.

If elected, Halbleib knows he will face an uphill battle on Capitol Hill, but plans to work quickly to align himself with other like-minded colleagues.

“I’m going to coordinate with people who aren’t going to back down or do the bare minimum,” he said.

Its strategy is to tackle the big problems.

“My big thing is to always push for the bigger thing,” he said.

One of his biggest concerns is safe drinking water for all citizens of Kentucky.

“Nowhere in Kentucky should have dirty drinking water,” Halbleib said, speaking specifically of Martin County where, more than two decades ago, gallons of coal sludge waste were dumped in two tributaries of the Tug Fork River, eventually causing Wolf Creek to fill. coal sludge waste and contaminated the water supply of more than 25,000 area residents.

Although this is Halbleib’s first attempt to run for political office, he served as Deputy Chief Financial Officer and Call Time Manager for Gov. Andy Beshear’s last campaign.

“I really learned the kind of ins and outs of how a campaign works,” Halbleib said, adding that he also learned from Governor Beshear’s work ethic. “You have to get to work. That’s what I really learned from this campaign.

Halbleib acknowledges that as a newcomer to the political landscape, he will have to work hard to make inroads in Kentucky’s 5th District, but says if given a chance, he believes he can make a difference for the east of Kentucky. He says his youth isn’t a disadvantage at all because he’s able to see Eastern Kentucky’s problems from a different perspective than his older counterparts.

“I’m ready to look beyond the paradigm,” he said. “I am ready to be aggressive. I’m ready to lobby for the people and I’m certainly ready to lobby for my constituents and not back down.

Other big issues Halbleib cares about include universal health care, creating high-quality jobs in Kentucky, and improving education not only for children but also for adults looking to progress in their career.

“Eastern Kentucky people, I think, are skilled and talented and they have so much to offer them, but I don’t think they’ve been properly represented,” he said. “My goal is to help people in the community.”

Harold “Hal” Rogers

Rogers lives in Somerset and has served as Kentucky’s 5th congressional district seat since 1981. He has said throughout his time in the United States House of Representatives that he has seen Kentucky go through many adversities such as the demise of the coal industry, drug addiction, trash and ubiquity. poverty.

“It is the second poorest district in the country,” Rogers said, adding that he had worked to alleviate the problems during his tenure by launching and improving programs such as the Center for Rural Development and the Society of economic development of southeastern Kentucky.

In an effort to revitalize areas where the coal industry has been hit hard by federal regulations, Rogers said he co-founded the organization Shaping Our Appalachian Region and created the Abandoned Mining Lands Economic Revitalization Grant Program that has worked in charcoal producing communities to create jobs and improve infrastructure as well as increasing tourism in the areas.

Rogers said he also worked hard to make Kentucky a more beautiful state.

“We were faced with a problem of litter that littered the countryside that God gave us,” he said, adding that he started the Eastern Kentucky self-responsibility effort in a desirable environment. which uses thousands of volunteers to pick up litter and has helped expand access to reliable wastewater. systems to more than 30,000 households.

Historically, one of the largest and most devastating issues facing Kentucky’s environment has been flooding. Rogers said when he took office flooding of communities along the Cumberland River Valley had become an annual problem. In an effort to deal with the flooding, Rogers said he contacted the [U.S.] Army Corps of Engineers and arranged a flyover of the river valley with him and he was able to discuss with them ideas for stopping the flooding. He was then able to obtain the necessary funds to build flood walls, levees and tunnels to alleviate the problem.

When eastern Kentucky was hit by catastrophic flooding earlier this year, Rogers did the same thing he did during his first term in Congress.

“I asked the [U.S.] The Army Corps of Engineers needs to come up with a plan to stop flooding along the Kentucky River and they are analyzing that area right now,” he said. “It will be more difficult on the Kentucky River because of the narrow valleys and sharp turns in the river.”

Rogers sees more major issues coming to the forefront of congressional discussions in the next term, including inflation that touches the life of every Kentuckian.

“We now have the highest inflation rate in 40 years and it’s costing the average American $717 more per month,” Rogers said.

Energy is one of the ways Rogers thinks he and his congressional colleagues can ease some of that burden.

“We must invest in our own energy resources and return to providing affordable and reliable energy to bring inflation down,” he said.

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