By Joseph Edwards, Psy.D.
In November, I learned that my state representative Jim Wayne was retiring after 26 years of service and would not be running for re-election in November of 2018. While the news saddened me on a personal level, as Jim has been a friend, it also worried me on a professional level that we were losing a licensed mental health professional (LCSW) and a strong voice for mental health issues over the years. But it has created a wonderful opportunity for an excellent candidate to emerge! I was overjoyed to hear that Lisa Willner, our KPA Executive Director, will be running for Jim’s seat as the representative for the 35th House District in Kentucky. Lisa has name recognition in the area, as she was elected in 2014 to the Jefferson County Public School Board with strong support, and is currently the vice-chair of the board. This is a truly an historic moment, as we have never before had a chance to support a psychologist in a race for the Kentucky General Assembly!
Why should one consider supporting Lisa Willner? Well, in a recent article in the Couirer-Journal (11/20/17 by Boris Ladwig), Lisa gave some clear reasons as to why she feels compelled to run for the position. She said that the House could use a progressive woman’s voice. She will advocate for access to affordable healthcare, especially mental healthcare, and for workers’ rights, and she will continue to advocate for public education with proper funding for public schools and teachers. It is critical that we ensure that the Kentucky Assembly has members who understand these priorities and will fight to support children, families and the working people of our Commonwealth in their budget and policy deliberations.
To have a psychologist as a policy-maker in Frankfort would give us a strong voice within the assembly in a familiar seat! I would be hard pressed to think of a more fitting candidate for District 35 than Lisa Willner. This opportunity is rare and it is important that we seize the chance to capture this seat!
The reality is, it will be a tough fight to elect a psychologist to the House. Willner already has at least one primary opponent who is a labor organizer. Others are likely to join in the race, as Jim’s decision not to run will attract a number of candidates for the seat. Recently, I gave some of my time to walk with Lisa in Audubon Park to introduce her to people that I know and to enthusiastically support her to my neighbors. I shared with them why I think Lisa Willner should have their attention and vote in the primary election on May 22, 2018. I hope all of us in psychology can rally behind Lisa Willner and make her the first psychologist elected to the Kentucky Legislature! For more information about Lisa and her campaign, please go to her website: www.lisaforkyhouse.