HAZARD—With candidates for the 2014 election races locked in, speculation has emerged as to whether or not the current principal at a local high school in Perry County will continue his tenure if elected as a state representative.
Perry County Central High School Principal Neal Feltner announced his bid for the District 84 seat in the State House of Representatives against incumbent Rep. Fitz Steel (D) last month. Feltner will be challenging Steele in the May primary.
The decision to run for political office was not one Feltner ever imagined he would do, he said. People in the community reached out to Feltner two years ago in an attempt to implore him to run for office. At that time, Feltner was the principal at A.B. Combs Elementary and said he felt his focus needed to stay there, to make that school the best it could be.
Two years later Feltner decided he could no longer ignore the pleas from community members and entered a bid for the office.
“I want to represent the middle class—the working class people,” Feltner said.
Feltner was adamant he would run a clean campaign against his opponents.
When questioned about his current role as principal, Feltner confirmed that if elected he would remain principal at the high school, and no laws stated that he would have to step down.
Another area school official, principal of Hazard High School, Happy Mobelini, recently withdrew his candidacy for Mayor of Hazard for unknown reasons. When Feltner was asked about a possible conflict of interest were he to hold a representative seat as well as the principal position, he said felt that his role as an educator would only help this area, and he could help bring attention to the necessary funds and programs that would improve our education system.
“They’re (the House) is only in session 45 days, most of those being when we are usually out for snow,” Feltner said.
Feltner went on to state that the average number of days the House is in session 45 days over a two year term; 60 days on even number years and 30 days on odd number years.
Feltner went on to state if he could not trust that his school could operate without him there, then he did not have the right systems in place. He would ensure the school would continue to run smoothly in his absence and, if elected, he would have staff in Frankfort to assist him in his role as Representative
Feltner said there was one main reason he had for wanting to run for office.
“I have both passion and compassion for what happens in this community,” he said.
Gwendolyn Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771, or on Twitter @HazardHerald.