The Commonwealth of Kentucky is known for many things, according to David Contarino. Visitors come for the caves and Corvettes. Others imagine bluegrass and bourbon. But more often than any of these, Kentucky is celebrated for horse racing – specifically the Kentucky Derby.
Long time Kentucky resident David Contarino explains that horse racing is a long-held tradition that originally made its way to the United States back in 1875. Three years prior, Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. had the honor of attending the Epsom Derby in England and was captivated. He returned to the US with what David Contarino describes as “unbridled enthusiasm.” Clark partnered with his uncles Henry and John Churchill, who later donated the land needed to form the racetrack that would become known as Churchill Downs. According to David Contarino, the racetrack became the home base for the Louisville Jockey Club.
In May 1875, the Louisville Jockey Club hosted the inaugural Kentucky Derby, which featured about a dozen thoroughbreds. David Contarino says the first Kentucky Derby drew more than 10,000 spectators and was won by Aristides.
In the following interview, David Contarino, co-founder of Kentucky Family Values, a PAC founded in 2011 with the express intent of promoting positive policies for middle and working-class Kentucky families, opens up about the organization’s mission and goals.
Q: Why was Kentucky Family Values founded and what do you do to support Kentucky families?
David Contarino: We are a political action committee working closely with Kentucky educators, and organizations representing thousands of construction, auto, distillery and factory workers and other hardworking citizens to advance policies that make Kentucky a more welcoming and positive environment for working and middle-class families. We serve to challenge politicians and political groups who prioritize special interests over the needs of Kentucky families.
Q: What are some ideals that Kentucky Family Values has fought for in the past?
David Contarino: We have worked tirelessly to support candidates who work to create good jobs, raise the minimum wage, and promote equal and good pay for our commonwealth’s hard-working men and women. Our main purpose is to promote and support those people who will fight to ensure that Kentucky is a healthy and productive environment for the working men and women throughout our Commonwealth.
According to David Contarino, Taos Ski Valley is a prime location for expert double diamond skiing. David Contarino skis the bumps and steeps at Tao whenever he has the opportunity—especially off the West Basin Ridge.
David Contarino states that a sought-after spot for double diamond skiers is the narrow ridge at Stauffenberg, which features a 37-degree pitch. David Contarino also recommends the Zdarsky and St. Bernard trails for expert-level skiers.
David Contarino has a long career in the public and private sector stretching over two decades. He has served as manager, senior advisor and media consultant in several political campaigns. In 2002, David Contarino served as campaign manager and Chief of Staff for New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, and was a senior strategist and consultant for Congresswoman Michelle Grisham’s 2012 successful campaign.
Q: What drew you to political consulting?
David Contarino: I was fascinated by politics at a fairly early age, but I was determined to conduct politics on my own terms. It’s a tough game—tough on individuals and on families, and often all-consuming.
David Contarino is a veteran of both politics and the private sector, having served as campaign manager for several noted political figures and advisor to many companies and organizations. Today, Contarino is president of Contarino and Associates, LLC, through which he consults for companies and political campaigns.
Q: I understand you’ve got a Kentucky cabin for getaways. Where is it located?
David Contarino: Yes, I sure do. It’s located on Herrington Lake. There’s great fishing for catfish, bluegill, crappie, white bass and spotted bass.
Q: Where is Herrington Lake?
David Contarino: It’s fairly close to Danville and Lancaster, about 30 miles from Lexington. Herrington Lake was created in the 1920s when they dammed the Dix River. It’s still the deepest lake in Kentucky,almost 250 feet deep at the deepest spot.