Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear’s gubernatorial election campaign paid a visit to a local high school in the Pike County Schools District on Monday, touring the school and discussing his plan to create jobs in the Commonwealth if elected.
“We’re here in Pikeville today to talk about our jobs plan, a plan that lifts up all Kentucky families,” Beshear said during his stop at Pike Central High School. “It’s aimed at creating six-figure jobs across rural Kentucky because we believe that every community deserves those good jobs.”
Beshear and Jacqueline Coleman, candidate for Kentucky’s lieutenant governor and Beshear’s running mate, announced their economic and job creation plan earlier this month, known as their “Kitchen Table Agenda,” which consists of two parts. The first centers on creating “family-supporting” jobs in agri-tech and advanced manufacturing by launching business accelerators and expanding access to micro-loans for small businesses. The second part focuses on rebuilding the state’s infrastructure, according to Beshear’s campaign.
Beshear and Coleman visited Pike Central High School and discussed the district’s career and technical education program with Mike Hopson, who teaches electrical technology at the school, as well as Superintendent Reed Adkins and Assistant Superintendent Freddie Bowling. The vocational-based program is available in the district’s five high schools and prepares students to work in fields like engineering, carpentry, electrical, HVAC and welding.
Hopson showed Beshear and Coleman most of the equipment that is used for instructing the students in his classes, who, he said, range from freshmen to seniors. He said he helps students prepare for schools like Big Sandy Community and Technical College after they graduate high school, and he said more opportunities for technical jobs in Eastern Kentucky are necessary for keeping Pike County students in the county after they finish high school and college.
“That will help our kids stay at home instead of moving onto cities like Lexington or Louisville,” Hopson said to Beshear and Coleman.
Beshear asked Hopson about how he could help the program by providing additional support and funds, among other questions, and Hopson told him he could purchase more equipment to provide a greater variety of vocational skills to his students.
“We’re here in this high school looking at their programs to not only get people into work but into work in a job that can support them, if they choose, right out of high school,” Beshear said. “What we’re seeing is the beginning of the training to have a highly technical career, to be able to go from here into a career and technical college and to ultimately have one of those high-paying jobs we so desperately need.”
Since Aug. 14, Beshear and Coleman have held events to discuss their “Kitchen Table Agenda” in Boyd County, Boone County, Daviess County, Henderson County, Harlan County and McCracken County, according to their campaign.
Beshear said Eastern Kentucky is “critically important” to him and Coleman because of their rural Kentucky roots and connections to the region.
“You’ll see us here a lot,” Beshear said. “We announced our plans to run for governor and lieutenant governor right here on the steps of this high school. Eastern Kentucky is critically important to Jacqueline and I.”
Their goal, Beshear said, is to be “a ticket for all people” in the state and they will measure part of the success of their “Kitchen Table Agenda” on the number of “good-paying” jobs that become available for people in Eastern Kentucky. He added that he believed there should be enough jobs in the region to support people in case of future “situations” like Blackjewel, the coal mine that abruptly filed for bankruptcy last month and left hundreds of non-union workers without pay.
“That means absolutely working to lift up Eastern Kentucky,” Beshear said, regarding his jobs plan. “We have seen too many job losses. We have seen too much devastation, and currently, we have a governor that does not care enough to spend the time here physically, but also to spend the time creating jobs right here.”
After the visit concluded, Adkins said that Beshear seemed “encouraged” by the district’s CTE programs.
“It sounded like he was encouraged by what we were doing,” Adkins said. “Any time that we have an elected official at that level come visit our school district is something that we take very seriously.”
Beshear is the Democratic candidate to run against Gov. Matt Bevin, the Republican candidate, in the gubernatorial election on Nov. 5, 2019.