Whitesburg KY
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Retired teacher, father of laid-off coal worker explains vote for Grimes

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Mitch McConnell and I are the same age of 72. I retired after almost 30 years service as a teacher in the Letcher County and Kentucky Public Schools. Mitch McConnell needs to retire after 30 years service in the United States Senate.

I retired in large part to bring new blood into the classroom. Mitch McConnell needs to be retired to make room for new blood in the United States Senate.

Below are my main, personal reasons for supporting Alison Grimes over Mitch McConnell:

We have all heard and seen the endless barrage of attack commercials on TV and radio and have seen all the postcards and ads, mainly from McConnell and his ‘Independent PAC’ supporters. There are the usual exaggerated statements, if not outright lies, including guilt by association with Obama, Reid, Pelosi and millionaire movie stars. What about McConnell’s conservative millionaires, Clint Eastwood and the Koch brothers?

There are some true, basic differences between the two candidates on how they think and feel about our environment and economy, and about coal miners, the unemployed, the uninsured, the retired, and about young people, women and school children.

I watched the only public debate on KET that McConnell would allow, and I believe the spoken performances, if not the facial expressions, were fairly even. But now to my personal reasons for supporting Alison Grimes.

When I retired from public school teaching, I knew and had protested that I, like other public pensioned employees such as police, firemen and state workers, would receive about half the Social Security benefits that I had earned and paid into Social Security from other “side” jobs I’ve had in my lifetime, including being a president of the Kentucky Education Association. I knew widowed teachers who received none of their spouse’s Social Security benefits.

This is because of the amendments to federal law supported by Senator McConnell called the “Windfall Elimination Provision” and the “Government Pension Offset.” Good conservative Republicans like Hal Rogers and Jim Bunning and progressive Democrats like President Obama have sometimes endorsed the repeal of these offsets, but Senator Mc- Connell never has, even though he wrote me recently that he would keep them “foremost in mind.” Alison Grimes supports repeal of WEP and GPO.

When one of my sons got laid off last Halloween from a job drawing coal mining maps, he drew his six months of unemployment, but when he asked McConnell for help, he got some mumbojumbo about another bill he had introduced and the refusal of McConnell to support an extension of unemployment benefits supported by Harry Reid, Barack Obama, and Alison Grimes.

In 2012, I as an eastern Kentuckian could not stomach voting for Obama or Romney, but I don’t blame one bit Grimes, who is our state’s elected protector of the secret ballot and fair elections, for declining to tell the liberal Courier-Journal or MSNBC whom she voted for President in a rabid red state where McConnell has used Obama as a scapegoat for his 30 years of inaction and Obama as a puppeteer for Grimes, who I believe is an intelligent, independent moderate, Kentucky Democrat like Wendell Ford, Paul Patton, Martha Layne Collins and Steve Beshear.

A couple of years ago when I went to help paint an old replacement school in Salyersville for the one destroyed by the tornado, I was surprised that in walked our new Secretary of State Alison Grimes to help paint. I would have been shocked to death to see Mitch McConnell at such an event. Instead, about the only times Mc- Connell comes to eastern Kentucky is during an election year, such as his attendance at the coal job rally at supposedly non-profit and non-partisan Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation, which supports and is supported by KYnect.

Remember that McConnell has said that job creation is not his job. His job seems to be the personal and political enrichment of himself and his wealthy friends at the expense of laid off mine workers’ unemployment benefits, and my and your Social Security, Medicare and Affordable Health Care. At least Grimes has some kind of a relatively positive jobs plan.

Finally, near the end of this awful election campaign, I remember that Mitch McConnell has been, as the Senate Republican Leader, the foremost American advocate to our conservative Republican Supreme Court of allowing outside millionaires to buy our elections in the sacred name of our First Amendment Freedom of Speech that I have spent my life trying to exercise and teach to our children.

I urge everyone to intelligently exercise your right to vote on November 4.

JON HENRIKSON
Blackey

P.S. I’m proud to display my bumper stickers for Alison Grimes and the “Ditch Mitch.” At least they’re better than his supporters’ “Ditch the B___. Vote Mitch.” Let’s “bump his rump” and sic his old Huddleston hound dogs on him. Mitch McConnell is not on my or your team.



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