HAZARD — InVision Hazard hosted two local candidate political forums Monday. The first featured candidates in the State Rep. race; democrat incumbent Fitz Steele and republican challenger Chris Fugate.
The candidates refrained from mud slinging for the most part. Steele stressed his determination to assure that the broadband upgrade plan developed a couple of years ago by Hal Rogers and former Gov. Steve Beshear does indeed come to Southeastern Kentucky quickly. Steele also highlighted his devotion to coal miners, having worked in the coal industry prior to becoming State Representative. When discussing the initiative to bring all remaining coal severance tax dollars to coal producing counties, Steele said,
“We built this state on the backs of these coal miners that can’t get up and down, that are dead, the ones that can barely get around right now. You’re daggone right I want it all.”
Chris Fugate is a former State Police trooper and the current pastor for Gospel Light Baptist Church in Hazard. Fugate’s message for the evening included several references to faith and how he believes faith and government should go hand-in-hand.
“Some people believe that God does not belong in government, and I say that’s wrong because according to the Bible, God established government,” said Fugate.
Fugate aligned himself with Gov. Bevin on several issues, while also expressing that coal producing counties deserve a better share because times are hard for working people in the mountains. Steele positioned himself as a democrat aligned with the democratic beliefs of his people and not the democratic beliefs of Washington.
Candidates for Hazard City Commissioner took the stage for a forum, following the State Reps. Commissioner candidates offered their ideas to improve Hazard.
Susan Brotherton said, “You can’t do it on your own. It takes all of these people. It takes this community. It takes all these groups and churches and schools. The biggest project of my own is keeping on our tradition of loving Hazard and keeping Hazard growing.”
John Quillen said, “I would love to while I am still in office get the River Arts Greenway completely finished and get the Artisan Center up and going.”
Lawrence Dew Gorman said, “Once we can all work together, we can get everything we’ve ever wanted here in Hazard. There is no reason that we can’t.”
Ricky Steele said, “We need to partner up with local churches. We have so many great churches that want to serve the community. We up here want to serve the community. We haven’t talked about the new Perry Plaza coming up out there. That’s going to bring in new business. Things are really looking up for the City of Hazard.”
Happy Mobelini said, “I believe community service is the most important thing anybody can do. At our high school, we have 330 students, and they do more community service than anybody around. They will do it for anybody anytime, no matter what the situation is. And if you teach that, it will carry over. We always preach the first day of school, help someone who can’t help themselves and if you do, you’ll never go wrong. I think that’s the same thing we need to do.”
The InVision Hazard forums were broadcast on 97.9 FM WKIC Radio in Hazard. InVision also organized forums for the county and city school board candidates to be held on Tuesday evening starting at 6:00 p.m. All the forums are hosted in the auditorium of the Perry County Public Library. Election Day is Nov. 8.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.