District 45: Killian Timoney faces challenger Thomas Jefferson

Published 2:46 pm Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Right outside of Lexington, Republicans Killian Timoney and Thomas Jefferson are preparing for a competitive primary.

Jefferson and Timoney, who has been in office since 2021, are competing to represent the 45th district, which covers parts of Fayette and Jessamine counties.

Jefferson is retired after over three decades in the automobile business, with roles in sales, finance and as general manager.

Timoney is currently a special project coordinator at Fayette County Public Schools. During his 25 years in the school system, he has been a teacher, coach and school administrator, and worked with pre-K to 12th grade students.

Why are candidates running?

The primary race has attracted a good deal of attention. As one of the most moderate Republicans in the House, Timoney has garnered some opposition from certain wings of his party.

For example, in a departure from tradition, the Jessamine County Republican Party made a primary endorsement supporting Jefferson.

The county party cited Timoney’s votes against Senate Bill 83 in 2022 and Senate Bill 150 in 2023.

The former bill banned transgender girls in girls athletics, while the latter was a wide-ranging bill that included bans on school instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation, puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender-altering surgeries for minors.

Jefferson said he’s running to “protect kids,” and that while Timoney is a nice guy, his voting record is “very poor in that fashion.”

“He votes the way the teacher union wants him to vote,” Jefferson said.

Timoney, for his part, has received $75,000 in support from the Better Schools Kentucky PAC. He said this support shows that public school leaders know he needs to be in the room when education decisions are made.

“I think they recognize that that when I speak about improving education, it’s based in core values,” he said. “The core values are that the person in the classroom is the most impactful person for student learning.”

Timoney said he leads with prosperity and education. He’s more concerned about crafting good policy than rhetoric.

“I’m committed to conservative values, but I’m also a critical thinker, and I’m capable of independent thought and I think that’s really, really important,” he said.

Key issues

Besides making sure SB150 and SB83 aren’t repealed, Jefferson said his focus is school choice.

He said COVID opened parents’ eyes to what was being taught in schools, and not all liked it. He cited diversity, equity and inclusion as an example.

“I’m not trying to disparage the teachers nor the public school system, but I do believe there’s sometimes the school that the child is attending is not a good fit, whether it be because of what’s being offered in the library, what the teacher individually is trying to push as an agenda, or just not a good fit period,” Jefferson said.

Timoney spoke about a few key accomplishments during his time in office. He is proudest of his bill banning gray machines, skill games similar to slot machines that appeared in gas stations across the state.

“I believe that those machines were placed in bad faith and they were predatory on our children and our communities and the people that were most impacted by them,” he said.

He also helped lower the age of servers in restaurants to alleviate a workforce shortage, and allowed doctors more time to look at complicated lab scans before sharing them with patients.

This session, Timoney cosponsored the constitutional amendment banning non-citizens from voting in any elections, including school board races.

Moving forward, Timoney is focused on reducing red tape in schools and continuing to craft policy that serves everyone.

Other state issues

Both Jefferson and Timoney support the income tax reduction. However, Timoney said he’d like to see it go down more conservatively, by quarter or eighth points instead of half points, to avoid repeating the failed Kansas experiment,

Timoney said he would poll his constituents if a bill concerning abortion exceptions comes up again, because he wants to respect the will of the people. He noted that he voted for House Bill 3, a pro-life bill. Jefferson said he supports rape and incest exceptions, if there is proof and within the first six weeks of pregnancy.

If school choice is legalized in the November election, Timoney would ensure it is the best system possible. He said his primary concern is making sure public schools have the opportunity to compete.

Timoney would address the teacher shortage with greater compensation and by improving educators’ public perception, but recognizes that it is a multi-pronged issue. Jefferson said the amount of tax dollars going toward education are sufficient, but the distribution isn’t perfect.

“The free market takes care of itself,” he said. “If we go ahead and stop increasing administration and (instead) giving it to the teachers, it would go and probably alleviate the problem and allow them to go ahead and get pay.”