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Harris plans to seek fifth senate term

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Filed candidacy papers Tuesday

By Phyllis McLaughlin

State Sen. Ernie Harris said last week that he will seek re-election in November.

Harris, who is in his fourth term in the Kentucky Senate, said Thursday, Jan. 14, he would be filing as a candidate this week.

“It’s really been a pleasure to represent my district,” he said in an interview following the public hearing at Milton Elementary School for the Milton-Madison Bridge project. “Trimble and Carroll counties have been in my district since Day One.”

He said he has three criteria he considers when it’s time to run again: “One, do I enjoy it? Yes. Two, am I making a difference? Yes. And three, do they [the voters] want to re-elect me? I hope that’s a yes.”

Harris, a Republican, represents the state’s 26th Senate District, which also includes Oldham and Henry counties and a portion of Jefferson County.

A Crestwood resident, Harris, 62, works as a pilot for UPS when the Kentucky Legislature is not in session. He is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel.

He is vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, chairman of the Transportation Committee and an ex officio member of the budget review subcommittees on Economic Development and Tourism, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection; Education; General Government, Finance and Public Protection; Transportation; Human Resources; and Justice and Judiciary. He also is on the Senate Agriculture Committee and State and Local Government Committee.

“The best part [of serving in the Senate] is not the flashy part,” Harris said. “It’s having an individual constituent call me with an issue about state government and being able to help the person cut through the red tape and get what they need. It’s probably the most rewarding part of the job.”

Harris said he recently helped a woman in Carrollton get on Welfare so that she could go back to school. The single mother was working at a fast-food restaurant and wanted to become certified as a licensed practical nurse. “We got her the help she needed, and now she’s an LPN working at the hospital, making three times more than she was at the fast-food place,” he said.

He also told of an Oldham County woman who contacted him because her insurance refused to cover a much-needed liver transplant. He said he worked with state agencies and the woman’s insurance company to get the treatment for her. “That lady is alive now,” he said. “We do everything we can to help.”

Harris said he wants to continue working for Trimble and Carroll county residents. “I feel like I’ve established a good working relationship with local officials and the people. … It’s a privilege to serve. I give it my best, and hope to continue to do so. I try to always be available.”

Harris said one of his proudest achievements was helping to secure state funding for water and sewer projects in Carroll and surrounding counties, including funds for the Regional Sewer Plant. He said every residence in Carroll County now has access to water and sewer lines, and he’s hoping to help establish that same goal in Trimble.

He said in the next few weeks, he plans to meet with the judge-executives in his district “to find out the needs of the counties,” though the state budget is tight and funding for new projects will be tough to win. “But, I’ll find out their needs and try to help in whatever way we can.”

This year, the primary election is Tuesday, May 18. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The deadline to file as a candidate to be on the primary ballot is Tuesday, Jan. 26. The General Election is Tuesday, Nov. 2.