Local officials handled Bevin’s visit well

Published 5:15 pm Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Officials from Danville and Boyle County represented themselves well during a visit from Gov. Matt Bevin last week.

The officials asked questions and shared their thoughts on issues that are both relevant locally and potentially affected by decisions from the governor’s office. In doing so, they turned what could have been nothing more than a fluffy promotional moment for Bevin into something more substantial and worthwhile.

Bevin visited Boyle and two other Kentucky communities on Friday to announce discretionary road spending dollars that had been allocated to local projects. While discretionary road funds aren’t a guaranteed, every-year type of thing, they certainly do not usually warrant a visit from the governor.

Email newsletter signup

When Boyle County received discretionary road funds last year and the year before that, Bevin’s administration was responsible for allocating those funds, but the governor did not personally visit Boyle County. That’s because Bevin wasn’t up for re-election in those years; this year, he is.

Bevin talked Friday about how previous governors may have used discretionary road funds as “political candy” for their friends, and how his administration is different and gives out road funds solely based on the worthiness of the projects.

Make no mistake — Bevin is still using the money as political candy, just of a different flavor: He’s essentially making under-the-radar campaign stops in these counties that are getting discretionary road funds. Bevin got a standing ovation when he entered the Boyle County Fiscal Courtroom Friday; he and the crowd made fun of a man hired by Bevin’s political opponents to follow him around and observe what he says; and someone even asked for campaign signs. That sounds an awful lot like an election campaign stop.

But despite the political games, questions and comments from local elected officials turned the event into a substantive one. Bevin asked for any input from those gathered once he wrapped up his announcement, and initially, it seemed like he was just going to get a few compliments and be on his way.

Then, Danville Mayor Mike Perros lobbied for more funding and support for expansion of the Danville-Boyle County Airport; Magistrate Jason Cullen pushed for changes at the Kentucky School for the Deaf; Magistrate Tom Ellis advocated for Perryville Battlefield; Jailer Brian Wofford asked for help securing a location for a possible new jail; Treasurer Mary Conley, Magistrate John Caywood and others talked at length with Bevin about criminal justice and what they say is a lack of participation in reform efforts from local judges.

Our leaders deserve credit for boldly speaking their minds when they could have just cheered and said thank you and left it at that.