HAZARD — Governor-elect Matt Bevin visited Hazard on Monday. He spoke before a select crowd at Hazard City Hall. He discussed jobs, education, infrastructure, and the reasons why he ran for governor.
“This was an interesting race in many respects and it would be easy to sit there and feel pretty special about how the results came out this way or that way. When I look at that map, and I look at some of these counties that voted first time a certain way. I look at little Elliot County, 6,440 registered voters, and 240 are Republicans. 6,200 are Democrats. To carry a county like that, that’s a cry for help is what it is. It is exactly what it is,” said Bevin at the beginning of his speech.
The room full of people went around, and introduced themselves to Bevin before he gave his speech. A lot of the people in attendance told Bevin that Hazard needed jobs, and to keep its youth from moving away to find employment elsewhere by investing in education. Others mentioned the crumbling infrastructure of Hazard.
“It is humbling to me to hear you all. Let me ask you a quick question. How many of you, just by a quick show of hands, how many of you heard from someone in this room that you didn’t ever know anything about? Pretty much every one of you. There is a power in communication. There is power in working together. There is not one person in this room that doesn’t want essentially the same thing as everyone else. Yet, even in a room this small and a community this small, there are some of you meeting each other and hearing each other for the first time, yet all of you cared enough to be here and all of you cared enough to be a part of this solution,” said Bevin.
The crowd burst into applause after Bevin told them that he was a praying governor, and it was a result of answered prayers that won him the election.
“106 out 120 counties is a result of a whole lot of things, far and above any one candidate or any one party or any one community represent. It is a cry for help. It is a cry from people who want better opportunities, who want the economic opportunities. They want some type of a moral compass, a spiritual compass to be re-instituted into our society,” Bevin said.
Bevin told the crowd that this wasn’t a game to him, and that he wasn’t a normal politician. He went on to say that everybody has told him that everything he has said or did was unconventional and wasn’t going to work.
“You proved them wrong, because at the end of the day, the people spoke. The people wanted something better. All of us want something to believe in, we do. We want something to hang our hats on. We want something to rally behind,” he said.
One of the reasons why he ran for governor, Bevin said, was that Kentucky almost too broken to fix.
“This is part of why I ran. This is a part of what I hear from you in the way you voted. We know we need to fix it. I do not have a magic wand, I don’t. I don’t have some magic ability to just snap my fingers and make things work. I do intend to bust my tail. I do intend to everything in my power to make sure we collectively together, Democrats and Republicans alike, together that we step up. I’m looking for adults, I’ve said this and I mean it, I want the solution language to come to the table. I don’t care what party you are a part of,” Bevin said.
Bevin said he didn’t care whose idea it is, whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican, that if individuals want to find a solution to the problems that Hazard, and Kentucky face, he wants to work with them. He mentioned that he has an open door, and an open ear policy for those individuals who want to get things done.
While there was several comments from the crowd about jobs, Bevin said there was two other things that Kentucky needed to focus on: education and infrastructure.
“Kentucky we are today will continue to be a pale version of itself relative to what it might be in the future if we don’t invest heavily in those two things, education and infrastructure. Simple as that. Relative to where we are compared to other states around us, that is also true. We can not short change either two of those things,” he said.
Bevin pointed out during his speech that he may be the only person in modern political history, that somehow managed to get elected statewide by promising nothing to anybody.
“I did. I made no promise to anybody, and many of you heard me speak and some you had. I promised nothing to anybody during this campaign. You all have rewarded that by awarding me a blank sheet of paper, but you all are going to help me figure out what we write on this piece of paper. It’s going to be a group effort. We are better than we are perceived to be. We are better than we have allowed ourselves to be. We in four years from now, and along the way between now and four years from now, are going to be a shiner version of who we are,” Bevin said.
At the end of the speech, Bevin told the crowd one of the reasons why he wanted to come here first was that he was truly grateful to them for their support.
“I’m here to serve as your governor. I don’t give a riff of your party. I don’t give a riff who you voted for. We are one Kentucky. This is our job to solve these issues together… I need your help to make it happen. I’m asking for your help. I wanted to come here and I wanted to thank you. I wanted to thank you personally… Be patient with me, but challenge me. Expect great things. Hold me accountable. Hold my feet to the fire. Together we are going to do great things,” he said.
TJ Caudill can be reached at 606-436-5771 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.