L to R: Graves County acting sheriff Jon Hayden, Heather French Henry, Tommy Waldrip and Dr. Steve Henry
Democratic candidate for Secretary of State Heather French Henry was in the Purchase this week visiting courthouses and restaurants.
As Miss America, (September 1999-October 2000) her focus was on homeless veterans. After her reign, she continued her interest in veterans' issues. Henry was Commissioner of Veteran Affairs in 2014 by Governor Steve Beshear. Henry stresses that her experience working across party lines for veterans' issues is a major asset for a secretary of state working with a legislature run by Republicans.
She plans to continue modernizing Kentucky's election process. The Poll Pads which reduce voter time in line was supposed to be fully implemented by 2020. For the 2019 elections, Poll Pads won't be available in every county.
Henry also has a love of small towns and history. She told us at a meet and greet at Carr's Steakhouse in Mayfield that one of her ancestors obtained the land grant to what would become Augusta Kentucky. She and her husband, former Lt. Governor Dr. Steve Henry, have worked with the community to refurbish old buildings in the historic town located on the Ohio River. Augusta is also the hometown of actor George Clooney. Among the buildings they own in Augusta is the Rosemary Clooney Museum, the 1822 home where singer and George Clooney aunt Rosemary Clooney lived over twenty years.
Henry and her husband and two children now live in Louisville. The family continues their deep ties to Augusta. Henry is proud of the fact that Augusta now has five restaurants, antique shops and is a stop for the American Queen, a tourist riverboat that plies American waters. (The Queen also stops in Paducah).
When asked about election security in the light of the recent revelations on Russian meddling in 2016, Henry said that security of the vote remains a top issue. Presently, Kentucky is in compliance with federal guidelines for election security.
Ms. Henry said that she wants to emphasize the land grant records in the Kentucky secretary of state's office. Teachers and historians can use the records in research and planning. It would also increase the visibility of the office.
Henry also wants to increase veteran participation in the election process. She is proud that the Western Kentucky Veterans Center in Hanson is a polling place. By working to put voting booths there, she wanted to increase community contact with the facility.
The Secretary of State's seat is one of two open seats on the 2019 ballot. The current Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is term limited after serving two terms. Her battles with the legislature resulted in legislation in 2019 limiting the powers of the secretary of state over elections.
Heather French Henry will be on the May 21st ballot with three other Democrats: Jason Belcher, Jason Griffith and Geoff Sebesta. Running in the Republican primary are Michael G. Adams, Andrew English, Stephen Knipper and Carl Nett.