A response: Are you better off today than four years ago?

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John Logan Brent

County Judge-Executive

If you read Jon Park’s column in last week’s paper, you witnessed another of his divisive, misleading and politically motivated columns. To recap, he started out with the Reagan “Are you better off” quote, then challenged my leadership, spouted off a few misleading statistics on the economy, and then inaccurately states that a “record number of people are running for office in Henry County” and “he believes this is because it is time for a change.”

For the record, there are 20 candidates running for county office in both the primary and general election this year in contested races. This excludes the offices of constable and school board. In 2002, 22 individuals ran in contested races, in 2006 a total of 26, and in 2010 a total of 20 ran. The election year 1998 was the biggest recent county election with 28 people running in contested races, and only one of these was a Republican. I’m not sure how they learn to count where Jon Park grew up, but we do not have a record number of people running this year. In fact, according to these numbers from the Henry County Clerk’s Office we are tied for the lowest number in the last five county elections.

Mr. Park states that Henry County is “declining” and people are “moving out to surrounding counties to where the jobs are.” He cites the October 2013 unemployment rate of 9.8 percent as proof of our county’s decline. The latest January 2014 numbers state that Henry County had a 7.5 percent unemployment rate. Jefferson County had a 7.7 percent unemployment rate. Trimble County had a 9 percent unemployment rate and Shelby County had 6.8 percent unemployment. The state as a whole is at an 8.3 percent unemployment rate. What is interesting is the industrial model Carroll County had a 9 percent unemployment rate, and Owen County, which has little, if any economic development, was way below the state and regional average at 7.3 percent unemployment rate. We can come up with our own conclusions, but one fact is true, there is no evidence from these numbers that our rate is comparably high. The statement that people are moving out is in not supported by census data. According to the 2010 Census, we grew, just as we have every census since 1970.

Mr. Park says the Republican candidates running for office are the answer to those who “want change” and thus he infers these candidates will bring more jobs to the county.

Mr. Park takes the local economic development council to task, saying it is just “lip service.” Mr. Park has never attended one of the economic development council meetings, but if he did he would recognize that there are a significant number of Republicans on the council including the immediate past chair Harold Bratton, as well as the current vice-chair and fellow active party member, Magistrate Roger Hartlage.

From what I have observed the council works well together, so is Mr. Park against the whole council or just the Democratic members of the council?

Now let us get into the political facts.

Jon Park is the head of the Henry County Republican Party and sees things in black and white. An R is good, a D is bad. That my friends is a recipe for poor leadership and a roadmap to failure. When I worked on agricultural issues in the 2000 and 2001 state legislative sessions, I learned fast you better have friends on both sides of the aisle. When I was elected Judge-Executive in 2002, I continued this philosophy and I believe it has served our county well. On my wall is a picture of myself with former U.S. Ag Commissioner Republican Mike Johanns. Beside us is former Republican Congressman Geoff Davis, with the inscription “John, you are a great friend.” In 2006, Congressman Davis awarded our county a direct $300,000 appropriation for infrastructure development at the Commerce Park. Beside this picture is one of myself with Rick Rand and Governor Steve Beshear. Because of a close relationship with these two Democrats, I have helped secure more than $20 million in direct appropriations for roads like Hwy 146, 389, 561, and 574 in just the last couple of years. A drop-in visit last winter with my friend and current Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson resulted in a direct appropriation of $647,000 for the Eminence Sewer Plant upgrade. There are many Republican leaders I have worked on issues with and who I have great respect for. Ag Commissioner James Comer, State Senator Paul Hornback and Magistrate Scott Bates are at the top of this list.

Recently I learned first-hand that Mr. Park and others criticized Senator Hornback for holding a public information meeting in my office because I was a Democrat. I sat in that meeting with at least two other registered Republicans, both of which I asked to attend the meeting. Jon Park and my opponent Ricky Doyle did not attend.

I’ll sum it up with a quote from Woody Allen, “90 percent of life is showing up.”

Mr. Park, if you want to get something done in this county, state, or country, you better show up and be ready to work with people. Mr. Park you are the poster child for a dysfunctional political system. You are the problem, not the solution.