By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FLORENCE - Twenty years ago it was the Boone County Republicans who had trouble fielding candidates for primary elections.
But the Boone County GOP is now so strong that the May 18 Republican primary will determine this year's statehouse race for the 66th House District. No Democrats are running.
Two candidates are vying for the seat being vacated by Rep. Charlie Walton, R-Florence, who is leaving to run for the state Senate. They are:
Ed Massey, a lawyer and chairman of the Boone County Board of Education.
Addia Wuchner, a registered nurse active in social causes.
Massey, a school board member for nearly eight years, is making education a major plank in his campaign platform.
"Part of the reason I want to go to Frankfort is I believe I can advocate my positions on education at the state level," Massey said during a recent fund-raiser in Hebron.
66th House District GOP primary candidates
Community/public service: Chairman, Boone County Board of Education; member, Kentucky School Board Association; deacon, Erlanger Baptist Church.
Family: Married to Anita; three daughters ages 9, 6 and 4.
Occupation: Registered nurse, former health care administrator.
Community/public service: Member, Northern Kentucky Independent Health District board; member, Boone County Success By 6 Operations Committee; regional liaison, Helping Hands Medical Mission.
Family: Married to Jan; three grown sons and two grandchildren.
Massey wants to change the state's funding formula for schools. Fast-growing districts like Boone County - now the third largest district in the state - get shortchanged because money from Frankfort has not kept up with growth, he said.
"We actually lose money through the tax process," Massey said. "And we cannot afford to do that in Boone County."
Massey also wants to bring down the costs of health care.
Both he and Wuchner say they oppose abortion.
"I think that I have a lot of experience to offer, 71/2 years on the school board," Massey said. "I've run a public election before, I've been out in the public eye before - and I think I have a lot to offer."
Boone County school superintendent Bryan Blavatt said Massey has the fortitude to tackle tough issues in the face of political pressure, a reference to Massey's support of a tax increase to help pay for new school construction.
"He has been brave enough to take on the issues ... that some people would have cowered away from and others would have not been as assertive," Blavatt told Massey's contributors at the fund-raiser.
"(Massey) and the other board members set a real precedent and tone ... in stepping up and doing something that was not popular but something that will benefit the young people of Boone County far after all of us are gone," Blavatt said.
Wuchner said she is also committed to improving education - including additional funding for Boone County schools - and lowering the cost of health insurance.
"We send too many of our tax dollars to Frankfort and don't get enough in return," Wuchner said.
Boone County has doubled in population in the last two decades. Wuchner said one way to manage growth while improving the economy and quality of life is through the construction and maintenance of roads.
"One way to attract and keep jobs while improving traffic is through better roads, but we aren't getting our fair share of highway money from Frankfort," Wuchner said.
Wuchner said she has the experience to do the job through her work on the region's board of health and through her former job as a health administrator at St. Luke Hospitals and the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati.
Wuchner enjoys support from many socially conservative Republicans in the county. As a member of the Northern Kentucky Health Board, she championed an abstinence-only sex education program for area schools, and she unsuccessfully led a fight to prevent the board from distributing birth control pills at health clinics.
Her campaign's Web site - www.addiawuchner.com - features accolades from two of Boone County's most popular and successful Republican politicians, county Judge-executive Gary Moore and state Rep. Paul Marcotte.
Marcotte is quoted as saying Wuchner "has the right values to represent Boone County."
"I'm going to do all I can to help her get elected," Marcotte said.
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