Richard Becker

Louisville labor organizer Richard Becker has filed to run for state representative in House District 35.

Becker, an organizer with Service Employees International Union, a local union of janitorial, manufacturing and railroad workers, hopes to succeed fellow Democrat State Rep. Jim Wayne, who is retiring.

“Our current political moment demands that people with progressive values and a fighting spirit join the fray,” Becker told Insider on Monday.

He said that he was disappointed when Wayne announced his retirement because he had always championed causes that Becker believed in as well.

While Becker had not considered running for office, he said people in the advocacy and labor community urged him to run. Becker said his involvement in labor and political campaigns and years-long advocacy for working people at the local and state levels, would increase his effectiveness as a state legislator.

A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Becker said that his platform includes raising Kentucky’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, empowering unions, ending mass incarceration, protecting and expanding access to affordable health care, stopping charter schools from draining resources from JCPS, safeguarding pensions and stopping the shifting of taxes from the rich and corporate special interests onto working people.

Statehouse districts for Jefferson County.

After the 2016 election, Democrats said that they need to expand their focus on reaching out to working class voters, and Becker said that’s what he does literally every day.

While Democrats face an uphill battle in the state, as they’re in the minority and no not hold the governorship, Becker said that being a “bold and unapologetic progressive” is both morally and politically sound, as evidenced by progressives’ recent victories in New Jersey and Virginia.

“I’m not going to shy away from talking about my progressive values,” Becker said.

All 100 Kentucky House of Representatives seats are up for re-election next year. Representatives serve two-year terms. Primaries are set for May 22, and the General Election will take place on Nov. 6. Candidates must file by Jan. 30.

Becker will have at least one primary opponent: psychologist and JCPS board member Dr. Lisa Willner.

UPDATED: This story has been updated with comments from Becker.

Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.


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