LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Dr. Donald Douglas says he didn’t run for the money. And he didn’t run because he was bored with practicing medicine.
“I didn’t do this for my resume’. I have a resume’. I didn’t do this so people would like me. My wife loves me, my children love me, my church loves me,” he said on Friday morning inside his office at the Tony Delk Regeneration Clinic in Lexington. “My purpose for doing this is to serve the people of District 22,” he continued.
The 22nd Senate District includes Jessamine, Mercer, Garrard, Washington, and part of Fayette counties. The district was last represented by Republican Senator Tom Buford. Dr. Douglas defeated Democrat Helen Bukulmez and independent Sindicat "Sid" Dunn with more than 70% of the vote.
Dr. Douglas is a well-respected anesthesiologist who specializes in pain management. One of 16 children who grew up just outside Owensboro, Douglas was a world-class athlete in Track & Field, where he reached the United States Olympic Trials twice during the 1980s (1980 & 1984). He was one of the world’s top 400M hurdlers.
He served as his class president for many of his grade school years and became the first Black president of a medical school class at the University of Kentucky. His historic win in the Senate race, while flattering, did not come as a complete surprise to him.
“Being the first Black, Republican, conservative senator is a wonderful honor,” he said. “Growing up outside of Owensboro, I don’t remember seeing any Black American physicians, attorneys, dentists. There may have been, but I grew up way out in the country,” he said. “So I didn’t have a lot of role models growing up.”
Dr. Douglas, despite his background in science, said he isn’t entirely sure mask mandates are why the state’s flu numbers were so low during the last flu season. And once he’s in Frankfort next January legislating, (barring a special session before then), he certainly won’t be voting for any COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
“What I’ve done all along is I encourage people to get vaccinated. I am vaccinated. I have no issues with that, but making this a mandatory thing - like with measles, mumps, rubella - I think we need to have more conversations about that,” he stressed. It’s worth noting that Dr. Douglas serves as a consultant to both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson; two of the leading COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers.
Douglas will be sworn in as a state senator next week. He’s visited the chamber before and said he took note of the polite decorum he saw from members of both sides of the aisle. He thinks we need more of that, saying most differences we have today are due to opinions, not necessarily based on facts.
“That’s why I’m a numbers guy,” he joked.
“Let’s focus on what it is we’re supposed to be doing for the people that we represent so that not only their voices are heard, but they’re satisfied,” he said of what he’s hoping to accomplish during his term. But, he also noted that people have to want to participate in change.
“They have to have a skin in the game,” he said.
Douglas, who has for decades been leading the charge in non-narcotic pain management said one of the reasons he chose pain management as his concentration is because you can actually see people improving and getting better.
Douglas said the administrative staff at Delk’s Regeneration practice have been great, and that should allow him to continue to practice medicine there while serving his constituents in central Kentucky.