Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 13, 2013

Webb pleased with re-aligned Senate district

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

ASHLAND — While acknowledging she has experienced sadness about losing a county she had represented since the beginning of her political career, state Sen. Robin Webb said she’s happy with her newly realigned district.

Under the redistricting, which was passed by a special session of the Kentucky General Assembly in August and recently approved by a panel of three federal judges, Webb lost Bracken, Lewis, Mason and Robertson counties from her 18th Senate District. Added to the district to go along with Greenup and Carter counties, which Webb retained, was Boyd County.

Webb — who has represented the 18th District since defeating Dr. Jack Ditty in a special election to fill a vacancy created when Charlie Borders accepted a job with the state Public Service Commission in 2009 — said she hated losing all of her previous counties, but saying farewell to Lewis County was especially painful because she had represented it from the start of her legislative career.

“Losing Lewis County was like losing an arm, or a family member,” she said in an interview Monday at The Independent’s offices.

Webb said she was always proud of the fact that at one time, as Lewis County’s state representative, she was one of only two Democratic members of the House who represented primarily Republican counties.

However, Webb said grouping Boyd, Carter and Greenup counties together was a “logical fit” because the three counties have similar interests. She also said it made much more sense to her to have Boyd as the hub of her district rather than Mason County because Greenup and Carter counties are much more aligned with Ashland than they are with Maysville.

Webb also said representing Boyd County won’t be much of a stretch for her because she’s used to working as part of northeastern Kentucky’s legislative delegation, and “county lines have never mattered to us. I’ve always included Boyd County in everything I do. It’s such an integral part of our region,” she said.

One area on which Webb, a former coal miner and former coal company legal counsel, said she planned to focus her energies was helping the area prepare for the “incidental impact” from job losses in the coalfields, which she said were likely to have a major ripple effect in industries such as transportation.

Webb also said it was a relief to finally have all doubt removed about which counties she’ll be running in when she seeks re-election next year. And, she admitted it was nice to have her travel time reduced by representing an area much more compact and closely aligned than her previous one.

Three of Webb’s four old counties were picked up by state Sen. Walter “Doc” Blevins as part of the realigned 27th District. Boyd had previously been a part of the 27th District and was represented by Blevins, who isn’t up for re-election until 2016.

While some questioned Webb’s decision to give up influence and seniority she’d built up the House to basically start over again in the Senate, Webb said she had been “treated very well” by her colleagues in the upper legislative chamber.

“I really enjoy the Senate,” she said.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.