For the first time, an African American will represent Fayette County in the Kentucky state senate. Democrat Reginald Thomas easily won Tuesday’s special election. He will finish the unexpired term of Kathy Stein, who now serves as a Fayette County judge. Thomas defeated former Lexington council member Richard Moloney and Republican minister Michael Johnson.
After offering many thanks, Thomas Tuesday night told supporters his first focus will be on education.
“In the next few days, I’m gonna make phone calls to Dr. Tom Shelton, Dr Eli Capilouto, Dr Augusta Julian and get on their calendar before the end of this year so I can talk about what I can do to help them in furthering education in this community,” said Thomas.
In fact, Thomas says a top priority is to, in his words, ‘find money’ for education. The Democrat says more funding can be found through tax reform, but he admits expanded gambling could also make a contribution. The Kentucky State University professor says he's not new to breaking down race barriers, but it’s not how he wants to be known.
“I was the first African American to go through the UK College of Law and serve as a law professor there, but it’s my desire and my hope that I’ll be remembered not as the first African American senator from Lexington, but as a good state senator,” added Thomas.
While the state senate is firmly under Republican control, Thomas says he can work across political boundaries.
‘I’ll be able to work with anybody. Again, if you look at my past, you’ll see I have a diverse record of working with all kinds of interests, people in business, people in the arts, people in the justice community. So, I can get along with anybody. I have that kind of personality. So, yes, I think I will be effective,” explained Thomas.
Thomas will head to Frankfort in January to begin his time in the general assembly.