State rep. candidates take aim at one another during GOP sponsored debate

Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio\

Thursday, May 2, 2024 —The candidates in the primary race for 50th District state representative squared off Wednesday evening in a debate hosted by the Republican Party of Nelson County.

With the primary election less than three weeks away, the candidates pulled no punches and didn’t hold back when setting themselves apart from their opponent.

Andy Stone, the challenger seeking to unseat incumbent state Rep. Candy Massaroni, called the incumbent’s leadership “ineffective”

“Candy Massaroni is a complete failure as a legislator in Frankfort,” Stone said in his opening remarks.\

Stone was critical of Massaroni’s claim that Stone’s campaign had received a campaign donation from the Jefferson County Teachers Union.

He said that he had just learned that a “libertarian group funded by a Virginia billionaire” had filed their intent to spend nearly $36,000 to smear Stone and “mislead the voters of Nelson County.”

He also took Massaroni to task for taking credit for the count receiving road money to Nelson County. He said 4th District Sen. Jimmy Higdon — chair of the transportation committee — deserves the real credit.

In her opening statement, Massaroni said that she worked closely with Higdon to make sure Nelson County received funding for high-priority road projects. As proof, she cited Higdon’s periodical columns during the session about the work the General Assembly has accomplished.

She said she worked with fellow legislators to fight against House Bill 5 in 2023, the bill that removed the barrel tax from aging bourbon. While the measure eventually passed, the work she and fellow legislators from other counties helped get the final version changed to soften the bill’s impact on Nelson County.

Stone noted that Massaroni voted against her party’s own rules at the beginning of the most recent session of the General Assembly. “That’s not a great way to make an impression.”

One of the rule changes she supported was a rule to ensure legislators had time to read bills they were asked to vote on. “It’s not fair to the citizens of Kentucky to not have time to read the bills” before casting a vote, she said

SCHOOL CHOICE. Both candidates are on the record in favor of school choice.

Stone said if the school constitutional amendment passes in November, the legislation must make sure school choice will be good for all children and not specific students.

Massaroni said she prefers the model Florida used when it implemented school choice. The important thing is giving parents the choice of the school their child attends.

She said that the state’s SEEK formula that helps fund public education is outdated and needs to be revamped.

Both candidates said that in a school choice environment, non-public schools that receive public tax dollars should also be required to provide the same services public schools are required to provide to special needs students and others.

PAC MONEY. When asked about a social media document alleging Stone’s campaign was to receive PAC money that originated with the Jefferson County teachers union, the candidate made it clear that his campaign had not received a donation.

“They don’t have to ask your permission” of who the PAC supports, he said. “That’s just part of the First Amendment.”

When asked why a liberal union would funnel campaign donations to a candidate in a Republican primary, Stone said it was not a sign of support for Stone, but a sign they opposed Massaroni in the primary.

“I think its probably because I am a public school board member, that would be my guess.”

Massaroni said the group is against her because she fought against “the woke agenda” in Frankfort.

“I don’t think we should have pornographic books in school,” she said. “I don’t think school counselors should be able to provide students with transitional hormones.

“If the Jefferson County teachers union opposes me, then every Republican in Nelson County should vote for me,” she said.

Massaroni said she believes that accepting PAC money can create an obligation for the legislator. “They’re going to have your ear, even if you don’t agree with them.”

Stone said that if elected state representative, he’ll meet with anyone, no matter if they give money or not.

“I want to hear what they have to say, no mater if they’re a lobbyist, PAC or Super PAC.”

ABORTION. Both candidates have stated they are strongly pro-life.

When asked if they believe Kentucky’s abortion law should include exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, both candidates said the would oppose adding those exceptions.

Stone said he would rather see money taking from Planned Parenthood and used to help revitalize adoption services.

“There’s a lot of low and middle-income folks who would like to be adoptive parents, but there’s a lot of money involved and that’s a barrier for some,” he said.

Massaroni also said she would oppose exceptions to the state’s abortion law. She said a number of women in the General Assembly worked to try to get more resources to assist mothers in crisis.

CLOSING STATEMENTS. In his closing statement, Stone again attacked Massaroni’s qualifications and record as a legislator.

He was born and raised in Nelson County and he understands the county’s needs and values.

He claimed that Massaroni has a paranoid and conspiratorial mindset and that she doesn’t have the trust of other members of the House or its leadership.

Massaroni’s closing statement focused on PAC money being funneled into Stone’s campaign.

“The PACs aren’t against me, they’re against what I stand for,” she said. “They’re against my conservative values.

“I’m not going to sit here and talk nasty about Mr. Stone to others,” she said. “I have a record that speaks for itself.”

Massaroni said she has been endorsed by half of her fellow legislators, as well as members of the statte Senate, including 14th District Sen Jimmy Higdon.

She called Stone’s claims that she was an ineffective legislator “tired talking points” in his campaign.

“I’m sorry that politics can get so nasty,” she said, “but I’m here to represent Christian conservative values. I represent everybody.”

The Primary Election is Tuesday, May 21, 2024.


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