Quarles brings gubernatorial campaign to Chamber

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May 10—Agriculture is important to gubernatorial candidate, Ryan Quarles.

Raised on a farm himself and now serving as Kentucky's Agricultural Commissioner, Quarles was prompted to cast his hat into the political ring again — this time running on the Republican ticket for Governor.

He addressed some of his concerns and convictions before the London Laurel Chamber of Commerce last month, outlining some of the issues he hopes to change if elected to the state's highest seat.

"It's been 20 years since Kentucky had a governor from rural Kentucky," Quarles said.

Quarles is a pro-life, pro-agriculture, pro-Kentucky heritage candidate, he said. He sees the needs of the rural communities as well as those in the state's large cities. But it is the beauty of southeastern Kentucky that he realizes is something that should be emphasized, not only within the state but to other states as well.

"I think southeastern Kentucky should be a destination," he said. "We need to promote the great outdoors."

Quarles mentioned Laurel Lake and the World Chicken Festival as two major draws for London alone, before outlining other needs for the state.

Rural health care is one issue that Quarles hopes to improve — with real-life experience of the plight of rural communities in meeting the needs of its residents for health care services. He also promoted using natural resources for energy production.

"We need to return to American energy production instead of relying on other countries," he said.

With 8,000 children in Kentucky needing permanent homes, Quarles also envisions renovating the current system of adoption and foster care. The waiting time for adoption, he said, averages two years — with many families unable to adopt due to the extensive and expensive processes now in place.

The drug epidemic in the state is another concern that Quarles addressed. He advocates recovery programs and second chances, but he also believes that there should be consequences for drug dealers who provide illicit substances to persons who overdose. Quarles quoted that there are over 2,000 overdose deaths each year.

A controversial topic this year has been the passage of legislation regarding transgenders participating in school sports.

"I think it's wrong to let boys play girls' sports," he said, again reflecting on the Republican agenda regarding such practices.

Education is another issue that Quarles supports, but he believes more focus should be placed on vocational education than in the past. Many post-secondary vocational schools offer shorter training times and less expense than the traditional college education and would increase the availability of skilled labor such as plumbers, HVAC technicians and other trades. He also promotes better benefits for educators.

Having been raised on a farm in rural Kentucky, Quarles also values good work ethics. He disagrees with the current government assistance programs and believes in training and assistance in educating Kentucky's residents.

"We need to put people back to work," he said. "We need to return the dignity of work."