By Ron Smith, Kentucky Public Radio
The three candidates vying for lieutenant governor of Kentucky favor restoration of voting rights for certain felons, but clashed on most other issues Monday night.
Restoring civil rights to felons released from prison came up during the Kentucky Educational Television debate, which featured Democrat Jerry Abramson, Republican Richie Farmer and independent Dea Riley, who jousted in their first debate of the campaign.
Riley says she favors giving convicted who committed non-violent drug offenses felons their rights back.
“Non violent felons should have their rights restored, certainly we would look at the populous of individuals particularly drug convictions. We’re throwing addicts in prison. It doesn’t work,” she says.
Abramson says he agreed with restoration only after it was agreed to by a prosecutor. However, the former mayor of Louisville spent most of his time defending his running mate, Governor Steve Beshear, and rejected an attack campaign advertisement that asserted the governor pardoned violent criminals.
Both Farmer and Riley pounced on the Beshear administration’s partial pardons, which does not expunge a felon’s criminal record.
The candidates also disagreed on tax reform, job creation and mining practices for most of the hour long discussion. Each of the candidates were asked about their position on the controversial practice of mountaintop removal coal mining.
Farmer and his running mate, state Senate President David Williams, favor the practice and argue the coal industry is being hurt by federal regulations. Abramson says his ticket supports mountaintop removal if it is environmentally friendly.
However, Riley, who is running with Lexington attorney Gatewood Galbraith, says they are against the practice and support environmental regulations to protect Kentuckians and their water.