Rep. Richard Heath, R- House 2 - Graves and McCracken part
(Fancy Farm 2019) - Rep. Richard Heath, (R-House 2- Graves and part of McCracken) wasted an opportunity on August 3rd. Instead of extolling the virtue of Graves County, the place he claims as his forever home, Heath launched into a grossly unamusing attack on candidates on the other side of the platform.
It was embarrassing. There is much good that Heath has been part of and witness to in Graves County. No one could tell it from his three minute speech.
Heath, who first went to the Kentucky Legislature in 2012, owns Heath Building Materials Inc. His official bio lists his religion as Baptist and his affiliations as the NRA, Rotary, Graves Chamber of Commerce and professional organizations. Heath is a graduate of Murray State where he received a master's degree in agriculture. He is no dummy. His district is doing better than many in the Commonwealth. Heath took no victory lap for its accomplishments.
We've heard this speech many times before. Yearly since he ran for office in 2011, Heath has recycled his stump speech from years past - the Dems are pushing for abortion, big spenders, not qualified to lead, etc.. etc.. This year's addition was a pledge of support for Matt Bevin's leadership and returning him for a second term. The only other candidate he mentioned was Senator McConnell's protegee, Daniel Cameron.
Graves County has some of the best schools in the state. Graves County High School's extracurricular programs are recognized as among the best in the state. Graves County and Mayfield City field winning sports teams. The county seat, Mayfield, is returning to health after the devastating loss of General Tire (shown at right prior to demolition) that employed thousands. When it closed leaving a huge scar on the outskirts of Mayfield, Graves County slumped. It has taken years for the county to attract factories to replace it.
The effort is beginning to pay off. A hemp processing plant, GenCanna, is being constructed. It will initially employ 80, but as farmers produce more hemp, so will GenCanna's work force. WK & T Telecommunications expanded into the campus left when Mid-Continent University, a private Christian liberal arts college, went belly up. High speed internet, so valued by 21st century employers, is a reality in Graves County because of WK & T.
Mayfield went wet, allowing liquor sales, By following Murray's path, new businesses that might even sell alcohol are moving in. A growing open community attracts more growth. The completion of I-69 through Mayfield even got it a Cracker Barrel.
You would have not known any of this listening to Richard Heath. He didn't bother to welcome visitors. He didn't invite them to move to Graves County - where jobs are coming, more jobs than the local workforce can handle. He didn't brag on the friendly people of Fancy Farm- he did thank the chairs of the political speaking. He didn't say, "eat barbecue here at St. Jerome Parish and leave some money here."
None of the above.
Representative Heath chose to deliver a red faced, red meat, screeching defense of Governor Bevin and the Republican Party. It wasn't clever. It wasn't funny. There were no zingers which are a large part of what make the speeches of Fancy Farm more Punch and Judy farce than serious political discourse.
His three minutes surely mirrored the speech he delivered to cheering partisans at the Graves County Republican Breakfast a few hours before. There the contact brought acceptance and applause. At Fancy Farm, it brought jeers from one side of the pavilion, cheers from the other.
Heath chose to please Matt Bevin and Mitch McConnell rather than tout the benefits of the district he was elected to serve. KET viewers and state and national media saw a three minute rant.
They could have seen a paean of praise to one of the most beautiful counties in Kentucky by a man who owes his life and livelihood to it.
Graves County deserved better.