Louisville Democrat Shawn Reilly has announced his intention to run for the Kentucky state Senate next year to fill the vacancy left by retiring state Sen. Tim Shaughnessy.
The 29-year-old liberal Democrat is a financial adviser who has been involved in several local political groups and campaigns such as the anti-Iraq War movement. But Reilly is most well-known as the co-founder of Say No to Tolls, which opposes and has protested against any levy on the city’s current infrastructure to pay for the $2.9 billion Ohio River Bridges Project.
Reilly says now is the time to influence policy from the inside and that his advocacy against tolling will help him in the race.
“My work on the Ohio River Bridges Project will be a benefit to my bid for the state Senate,” he says. “So many times Louisville gets the short end of the stick in terms of funding and money that comes back from Frankfort. And if Louisville got its fair share of transportation dollars this issue of tolling wouldn’t be on the table. And Frankfort seems more than willing to put an additional tax on something they’re willing to pay for around the state.”
Reilly is the first Democrat to announce a bid for Shaunghnessy’s 19th district seat, which currently covers the Audubon, Highlands St. Matthews, Bon Air and Hikes Point neighborhoods, including parts of Jeffersontown.
The district could be redrawn due to the new census numbers and Shaughnessy’s 2008 opponent, former state Rep. Bob Heleringer, has told media outlets he will wait to see how redistricting plays out before making an announcement.
Reilly says he isn’t concerned about being drawn out of the district and plans to run a campaign focused on putting Louisville first in state government. The first time candidate was very critical of state leaders for failing to lead on re-opening Kentucky Kingdom, which has been closed since early 2010, while it gave tax relief to help building the Ark Encounter LLC in in northern Kentucky
“It seems like the biblical ark park got preferable state treatment and preferable tax incentives up in northern Kentucky and I think Kentucky Kingdom should have had at least equal treatment to that. If we’re going to give something like that our tax dollars I think we should give equal weight to Kentucky Kingdom,” he says.
The political newcomer also chimed in on the 2012 General Assembly, coming out in favor of expanded gaming through a constitutional amendment and changes to the state tax code, two issues at the top of Governor Steve Beshear’s agenda. During the gubernatorial campaign, the governor stiff armed calls for immediate reform and echoed it should be postponed until the state gets out of the lingering recession.
“Tax reform is an issue we can begin talking about now. Corporations are reporting record profits and we have companies here in Kentucky reporting huge profits. So we can start now whether in 2012 or 2013, but it’s important to start that conversation now,” says Reilly.
The deadline for filing to run for public office next year is set for January 31, however, state lawmakers could change that date before they finish redistricting.