Charles Booker, Senate Candidate in Kentucky, wants to build a progressive future for Kentucky.

By Staff, Teen Vogue

The 2022 midterm elections are right around the corner. In our new series Teen Vogue’s Top 10, we’re asking candidates 10 questions about the issues we know our readers care about the most, including student debt and climate change — plus a few bonus ones for fun.

Kentucky Senate candidate Charles Booker talks to us about the “criminal” student debt crisis, pushing past cynicism, and building a progressive future for his state.

charles booker in front of solar panels in kentucky

1. What is your plan for addressing the student debt crisis?

The student debt crisis is criminal at this point. So many people are blocked from advancing their careers and ending generational poverty in their families because of crushing student debt. My wife and I are still paying back student loans, and I have all but concluded we will never pay them off. Student debt should be completely canceled and college should be free. This would transform our economy and dramatically help us break the cycle of poverty.

2. If you’re elected to office, what specific actions would you take on the climate crisis?

Fighting for a sustainable future is a central tenet in my vision for a Kentucky New Deal. In many ways, my commonwealth has been a ground zero for the ills and decline of the fossil fuel industry, and it is critical that we listen to the people on the ground to build the transition to the future our children deserve. We are not simply facing a crisis; our challenges have risen to a state of climate chaos, most recently evidenced by the massive tornado that ripped across Kentucky right before Christmas. To take this on, we must start by making the vital investments in our infrastructure to clean our land and foster a clean energy economy. That includes fully implementing climate and conservation corps in Kentucky, leveraging federal investment to reclaim abandoned mines, and making historic investments to update our water systems and protect our waterways. We also need to lead with innovation to build new industries in agriculture, zero emission technologies, and manufacturing. For most Kentuckians, the coal jobs are gone and not coming back. Instead of ignoring that reality, we should listen to the people and lead the way on protecting our home and environment.

3. If you could snap your fingers and change two things about politics in the United States — such as policies you want to see enacted or structural issues — what would they be?

We should ensure that everyone has high-quality health care with Medicare for All. Our government must also address our country’s deepest ills of structural racism and poverty by finally ensuring reparations for descendants of enslaved Americans, and a Universal Basic Income.

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