The Breeders’ Cup Forum: Elisabeth Jensen

by | 12.05.2013 | 8:36am
Elisabeth Jensen

Elisabeth Jensen is the Democratic frontrunner to face first-term Republican Rep. Andy Barr in Kentucky's 6th Congressional District in 2014. Jensen, who announced her candidacy in June, is president and co-founder with horseman Bill Casner of the Race for Education, a non-profit organization that has provided over $5 million in scholarships and educational programs. Originally launched as a scholarship program for children of horse industry and agricultural families, the Race for Education is now a multi-faceted program that has received nationwide recognition for the impact it's had in Central Kentucky.

Prior to her work with the Race for Education, Jensen, a single mother who has lived in Lexington for more than a decade, was an executive with the Walt Disney Company.

Why are you running for Congress?
I have never lived my life planning for a career in politics. But the last two years I've been involved in issue-based politics, working with candidates and campaigns on issues I've cared about. Things like expanded gaming and tax parity for the horse industry, but also education, family and children's issues have been important to me.

What qualifies you for this?
Prior to my work at the Race for Education, I spent 15 years in manufacturing divisions of Fortune 500 companies, including managing the manufacturing of children's apparel for Disney Consumer Products. I've been in the corporate world. I know what that means. I've lived on both sides of the aisle.

How is Central Kentucky doing in terms of education?
There's a big disconnect between public education and what our work force and employers require. We also have people who are chronically unemployed and who do not have skills for the jobs that are out there today and for the jobs of the future. I've spent the last 10 years working with young people in our community. So many of them end up with huge student loans and are in low-paying jobs. Those young people are not buying cars, not buying homes, not contributing enough to the economy. This 20- to 35-year-old generation are significantly underemployed, without benefits, and unable to save for their future. Everyone in Washington, D.C., is worried about putting out fires, but this is an issue that is growing in importance.

What is the future of the Race for Education?
The Race for Education will go on, with Chris Young (chairman of board of directors) taking a strong leadership role. Over the last five years it has broadened with the creation of the Starting Gate, an after-school program for middle school students in Fayette and Bourbon County public schools focused on building literacy and language arts skills. We placed the program in communities where people in the horse industry live.

What has surprised you the most since you announced your candidacy?
The focus on fundraising. From the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington and anybody you want support from, the first thing they say is, ‘How much money have you raised?' The pressure to raise money is enormous. With federal election commission requirements, individuals can only give $2,600, so you have to have a broader audience to raise significant funds.

What are some things you've learned?
I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support I've gotten from throughout the district, which includes 19 counties. Trying to include everybody and engage everybody in those 19 counties is a challenge, but it's something I've been able to do. I've been overwhelmed by people who have stepped up, who want to help. The government shutdown really affected a lot of people. They want someone who is going to work for them.

Do you think the federal government has a role in regulating racing?
I think revising the Interstate Horseracing Act would be opening a huge can of worms that we don't need to open.

What can Congress do to help the horse industry in Kentucky?
The biggest thing at a federal level that can impact the horse industry is a stable economy.  We have seen a significant improvement this year at the sales level.  But to get people to the track and more actively engaged in the sport, we need a stable economy – and to have that we need to have a government that works.  The equine industry here in Kentucky relies heavily on foreign investment, not only with horse sales, but in real estate. Even amid civil war in Syria, they have kept the government open. How does it look to the rest of the world when we risk the full faith and credit of our government and can't keep our lights on in the capital due to political games?”

  • LongTimeEconomist

    What does she think about the major issues that Congress is facing? They are far more important than what is mentioned here.

  • Rebekah Lane

    Funny, I thought Paulick Report was about the racing industry. Turns out it’s an arm of the Democratic Party. Apparently, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and “anybody [Jensen] want[s] support from” can save a little money this month.

  • Anton Chigurh

    Let’s hear from Andy as well. He can explain how blocking everything in Congress is productive.

    • Barry Irwin

      You have a great sense of humor. Wish I’d have thought of that line.

  • Richard C

    Good luck — in this ocean of sharks and others who care nothing about Main Street, USA.

  • Tinky

    Her biggest surprise was the “focus on fundraising”?! Really? Did she commute to her Disney job on the back of a turnip truck?

  • meme

    “Starting Gate focused on building literacy and language ARTS skills” how will that help kids who can’t count to 100 – typical liberal thinking more emphisis on the arts than necessary education

    • Tinky

      You really haven’t a clue about how children learn. There are numerous studies showing the advantages enjoyed by those children who have been exposed to arts, and the studies have been done by researches of all political stripes.

    • Old Timer

      FYI Science in literacy!

      If your unable to understand something along the lines of this…”Clenbuterol is 4-amino-alpha-[(tert-butylamino)methyl]-3,5-dichlorobenzyl alcohol
      (IUPAC) typically marketed as the hydrochloride salt. Clenbuterol has one chiral center at the benzylic carbon and is administered as the racemate although most of the pharmacologic activity is attributed to the levorotatory isomer.”

      Then I don’t care if you can count to 100^50.

      • Tinky

        “Science in literacy”, yet the ability to count is unnecessary?

        Hmmm…I suspect that, unfortunately, you weren’t exposed to the arts during your childhood eduction.

        • Old Timer

          You completely miss the point.

          If you are only able to count and can not read, you will fail. If you can only read and not count, you will fail. In other words to excel you need to have both, i.e. “Science is Literacy”. They go hand in hand, they are not mutually exclusive to each other. You must have both! These either or arguments are ridiculous!

          I tell you what, here’s my favorite artist “Rothko”, a jew who painted in color fields. If you can tell me why he was so revolutionary without looking it up, more points for you. Only you will know if you cheated though :).

          My guess is that you probably missed the science classes since you didn’t understand the point immediately as descried the first time.

          • Tinky

            Setting aside the irony of your multiple misspellings while discussing the importance of literacy, your Clenbuterol example was far from being clear.

            Your assertion above is grossly simplistic. There are countless (get it?) people who do not have highly developed math skills who have succeeded, and countless other examples of successful people who have weaknesses in other specific areas of learning.

            Is it preferable to have a well-rounded eduction? Of course.

            With regard to Rothko, I have always much preferred Klee.

          • Old Timer

            The point Tinky, again was the original post by Meme, which you continue to not understand, so I’ll try again since your having a hard time at this.

            Meme decried literacy as not a necessary education as apposed to counting. My counter point is that if counting or math or science is important than you do need to have a strong grasp of literacy. There are not countless examples of excelling scientist and mathematicians that can not read and interpret well. Sorry, doesn’t’ exist. Many artists that can’t count money, I’ll give you that!

            Klee, the cubist? Didn’t much like his work, seemed to bland; however, I do like Duchamp for a cubist. Much more movement in his lines.

    • Old Timer

      FYI, Science is Literacy!

      If a person doesn’t understand something like this because they are illiterate …”Clenbuterol is 4-amino-alpha-[(tert-butylamino)methyl]-3,5-dichlorobenzyl alcohol (IUPAC) typically marketed as the hydrochloride salt. Clenbuterol has one chiral center at the benzylic carbon and is administered as the racemate although most of the pharmacologic activity is attributed to the levorotatory isomer.”

      Then I don’t care if they can count to 100^100!

    • Guest

      Meme – I think you must not know what “Language Arts” are. Language Arts has nothing to do with painting or dancing. Language Arts are most definitely “necessary education.”
      LANGUAGE ARTS is the generic name given to the study and improvement of language skills within the school setting. Traditionally, the primary divisions in language arts are literature and language, where language in this case refers to both linguistics, and specific languages. According to the International Council of Teachers of English, the five strands of the “Language Arts” are reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing (visual literacy).

      • Barry Irwin

        Not TV? For reals, man? What about comic books, then?

  • Kentucky Girl

    She’s got my vote!

  • Barry Irwin

    I’ve worked with Elisabeth. She is a first class human being. In an era of politicians that do nothing but protect their jobs and the status quo, I find her candidacy to be a refreshing change. You can bet her focus will be aimed at matters that will help people and not simply perpetuate her own continued role as a Congresswoman. She is exactly the type of person this country needs. And she is a true friend of horsemen and their children.

  • Roger

    What Can Congress Do To Help horse industry in KY?
    1- Allocate more race dates to Keeneland.
    2- Retire CDI CEO Evans to Alaska.

  • Smokey Glacken

    Does she have any understanding at all why the now Democratic governor in New York State, Cuomo, failed to indict and prosecute his polilitical cronies, that were involved in the Aqueduct Entertainment Group’s bid-rigging casino scam, as both the Attorney General and the governor? Was it really, just honor among thieves?

  • horse

    As with any viable Congressional candidate, to determine her intellectual mettle, ask Elisabeth what she intends to do with the Unaffordable Health Care Act?

  • Bill Casner

    Elisabeth Jensen is one of the strongest and most committed woman that I have ever known. Her candidacy is based on her desire to try and strengthen our public educational system that has miserably failed our children.

    In a recent study with over 6 million students world wide in 34 of the most economically developed countries, the US ranked close to the bottom. The United States ranked 26th in math, 21st in science and 17th in reading (down from 14th in 2009). Countries like Viet Nam, Slovakia, Portugal and Russia ranked higher. Not surprising, students in East Asian countries came out on top nabbing 7 of the top 10 places in all three subjects.

    Elisabeth has grown the Race For Education from its original mission of providing educational opportunities for children of backside and farmworkers, to creating grassroots educational programs for children in grade schools. What she learned from RFE was that so many students who “graduate” from high school are educationally handicapped and by that time its too late for them. It has to be strengthened from first grade on.

    Elisabeth has always amazed me with her dedication and her ability to analyze with clarity and formulate solutions. She will make one helluva congress woman.

  • Patricia Hooker

    I am on the Board of Directors for Michigan Equine group who we followed our association after the Kentucky group who oversees the State government actions both positive and negative toward equine. They have a fee attached to feed, tack, and other horse related retail markets that goes into a fund at the State level that can only be used for equine purposes. The minute the federal government gets involved the equine will lose. When President Reagan was in office we equine people were going to be left out of the reformed the tax laws, we changed his mind by we did that by all of us bombing him with phone calls, and messages to where he could not and movie and television CEOs talked with him face to face so to help us and he did. You have to remember if the government legislators whether any level of government if they do not get anything out of it will not get through, it is always about money and they do not listen to the voters where this is concerned. We can not stop the fight but it is a big game and you must play the game in order to get the changes that we need to help equine and horse racing.

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