By Michael Broihier
There are four Republicans filed for the 80th District Representative’s seat; David Meade and Jerry Shelton are from Lincoln County and are well known locally; they will be profiled in a later edition of The Interior Journal, but the other two are from Mt. Vernon and not well-known in the county.
Roger Coldiron, 60, was born in Berea and said, “The other candidates will say, ‘I was born and raised here,’ but I like to say I am a resident of the area by choice, not just birth.” Coldiron left Kentucky in the 70s to pursue a career in the US Navy and returned when he retired after a 30-year naval career that saw him deployed worldwide. Coldiron said, with 17 years at sea under his belt, that it was sometimes hard to explain where he was from.
After graduating from Romulus High School, Coldiron enlisted in the Navy as a corpsman and served combat tours with the 1st and 3rd Marine divisions, participating in operations Eagle Pull, the evacuation of Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon and the rescue of the crew of the Mayaguez.
After his enlistment, Coldiron attended the University of Kentucky, graduating in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. Coldiron also received a Master of Arts degree in National Security Decision Making from the Naval War College in 1988.
Coldiron’s naval career included various surface warfare and shore assignments including commanding USS Stump, a Spruance class destroyer. He also commanded Maritime Prepositioning Squadron One, and spent 14 months at sea preparing for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He retired in 2009, last serving as the Defense and Naval Attache to the Kingdom of Denmark.
Coldiron said he believes that the government is best that governs least. “The government has no business legislating things they are trying to legislate,” he said. He also said that he believes that compromise is important to an elected official. “If someone believes something strongly enough, you’ll never convince them otherwise,” Coldiron said. “You need to know how to compromise. There is no wrong political party, just different points of view, you have to make people comfortable with disagreeing.”
Coldiron sees his three priorities if he is sent to Frankfort as being interrelated. “I am concerned about the future of education in Kentucky. When students graduate from high school, they’re ready for college. I believe that we can educate kids, 11th and 12th grade kids, to be skilled workers. The reason we can’t get industry to come to Kentucky is that, while we have plenty of labor, we don’t have skilled labor. Skilled welders and med techs for example can be taught at the secondary ed level; you shouldn’t need to go to college to enter the work force,” he said.
He also wants to take on the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS). Coldiron related the difficulties of a friend who is raising three foster siblings and went for months without receiving a payment from CHFS. “CHFS needs a tremendous amount of work and probably a good housecleaning. We need accountability in all areas of government, not just that cabinet but in all areas,” he said.
The last key area concern for the father of a son soon to be two-years-old is Kentucky’s drug problem, particularly the manufacture and sale of methamphetamine. “Local police and the Kentucky State Police are doing the best job they can, but we have to give them more resources. Fighting drugs is like fighting the war on terror on a smaller scale; you need good intelligence to find these guys,” he said. Coldiron also said that he supported the bill that would make the use of Kentucky’s All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting system mandatory for everyone who writes a prescription. “Doctors aren’t gods; we need to watch what they are prescribing, particularly these pain clinics,” he said.
Coldiron said that he will be campaigning in Lincoln County but wants residents to know that he is not seeking endorsement from any party or organization, nor is he accepting any donations to his campaign.
Mark Eaton, Baptist Minister
Mark Eaton has been campaigning in Lincoln already; the 35 year-old has been going door-to-door in Waynesburg and is working his way through the outlying parts of the county, devoting two days a week to campaigning. Eaton, a full-time pastor who said he got the calling late in life, describes himself as “very conservative.”
A father of four boys, Eaton strongly believes in term limits. “I am not a career politician, I don’t think career politicians help our country,” he said. Eaton, who has been the pastor of Central Baptist Church for seven years, sees scriptural precedent for his point of view. “I believe in servant leadership, like the bible says,” he said. Eaton promises if elected to serve no more than 12 years. “I want to serve and then come home. I’m just a regular guy who wants to serve his community and come back and get back to a regular life.”
Eaton graduated from Rockcastle County High School in 1995 and then studied at EKU for two years where he met his wife. Though he is a full-time pastor, Eaton is still involved in his family’s various businesses, one of which is a residential trash pickup business, and they have shaped his political views. One of his top priorities is government regulation. “I believe we can create jobs by cutting government regulations. In the garbage business, we’re a small company, all of our competitors are humungous companies, but the regulations we have on us are much more burdensome than they are on a large company,” he said. He also believes that government is too big. “We have to cut spending. Kentucky is broke and it’s way past time to cut spending.” he said.
The other top priorities on Eaton’s list if sent to Frankfort are moral issues. “I am 100 percent pro-life, he said emphatically. He is also strongly against gay marriage, allowing benefits for same-sex partners and the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. “I don’t think repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was the right path to take. I have a lot of relatives who were in the military and they were against it as well,” Eaton said.
Eaton also wants Lincoln County residents to know that he will be paying close attention to agricultural issues if he is elected. “I was shocked at how much money Kentucky earns in farming,” he said. “I am a strong supporter of agriculture; agriculture is our district. If I get to serve, I will pay attention to farmers.”