Feb. 6—GREENUP — Shawnee State University associate professor James Reneau will run for state representative of the 98th District, which serves Greenup County and a portion of Boyd County.
The professor, who teaches computer science in SSU's business department, decided to run for office because of his 27-year-old daughter.
"She's an engineer and she teaches at the University of Reykjavik in Iceland," he said. "She said she doesn't feel safe in the United States with the gun violence and going through active shooter drills and attacks on her right to health care. She feels she's not important and doesn't feel safe and, as a father, it tears me up that she doesn't feel safe, but I'm glad she found a place where she does feel safe.
"She won't consider coming back, and it makes sense," Reneau said. "We lost a brilliant girl who grew up in Russell, went to Russell and Morehead and Western Kentucky University. How many of the brightest and best in the commonwealth are leaving because of the current climate in Frankfort?"
He said he didn't want to wait until he retired to run, noting he didn't think he'd have the energy in 10 years to run for office.
"I don't see myself going to Frankfort for more than one or two terms, because I don't want to be one of those long-in-the-tooth legislators," he said.
The GOP supermajority doesn't listen to its constituents, Reneau said.
"School funding, health care, jobs, abortion — and then you watch them in Frankfort not paying attention," he said. "The state elected a Democrat governor for a reason. Thank goodness Kentucky sees there needs to be a check and balance, but the supermajority can overturn the governor's veto and have their very radical way."
He said he's a Kentucky Democrat and a gun owner, although he would support discussion on some controls on guns.
Reneau also said he believes in a free community college program similar to the one in Tennessee to make sure to have an informed electorate and a ready workforce. He's also pro-treatment and recovery.
"If somebody wants to be clean and sober, we should have the mental health and physical health systems to help them," he said.
Economic development is crucial, he said.
"It has to happen in our district," he said. "When I travel in the state, I see all these big new factories and jobs and facilities and I drive through Ashland and see brown fields. How do we get economic development in our part of the state?"
He said one issue is the competition between Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia.
He also supports laws allowing recreational marijuana so it can be taxed and bring in money for the state.
Reneau, a graduate of Ashland Blazer High School, earned a bachelor of science degree in mathematics and computer programming from Morehead State University, a master of science degree in information systems from Marshall University and a Ph.D. in computer information systems from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Reneau and his wife own a home in downtown Russell and a farm in the Beechy area of Greenup County.
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