Exclusive: Fletcher & Beshear Take on Poverty

A few days ago Page One asked Kentucky’s gubernatorial candidates what they would do to eradicate poverty. We asked that the candidates respond with specific solutions for eradicating poverty without resorting to personal attacks and without bringing gambling into the discussion. We’re pretty sure there’s been enough bickering without any solid conversation about the issues facing Kentucky.

We know the respective campaigns are busy in their own right so we thank them greatly for taking time to respond. To keep things on equal footing we have decided to publish responses in full without any editing. Please read them for yourself and form your own opinion about who rose to the challenge of tackling one of the biggest problems in the state.

We have to be critical here. This in no way is a representation of our political preference and nothing should be considered an endorsement or denouncement of a candidacy. We’re not picking sides, but it’s obvious Ernie Fletcher’s campaign is addressing the poverty issue more seriously. Whether Steve Beshear has an actual agenda for addressing poverty is not clear from this response, and we’re open to hearing more from the campaign. Meanwhile, Fletcher’s folks put enough time and effort in that we’ve had to divide his response into three parts, with the rest to follow.

While only offering suggestions and not providing specific solutions for poverty itself, Beshear’s campaign has responded. Having plans for the state as a whole is a great thing. But lumping poverty in with the rest is part of the problem. Poverty will have to be specifically addressed without regard to those who aren’t suffering. We have no doubt that Steve Beshear can and will deal with poverty but we want to know what the heck he’ll do specifically. It doesn’t take much to put it in writing. Guess we have to remind ourselves that this is a campaign and getting too specific would require holding oneself accountable.

The Fletcher campaign has offered a three-part response to our question and we’ve published the first portion. To our surprise our concerns have actually been addressed. Or have begun to be addressed, anyway. The campaign deserves credit for doing so. Sure, a lot of this substance comes from Fletcher having been in office for four years (Beshear’s been an office holder, as well, and could have mentioned what he’s done in the past) and the campaign relies heavily on what it says he’s already accomplished. But the point here is that the campaign specifically addresses poverty and is beginning to offer specific solutions.

Both candidates teeter on the edge of generality almost as if they’re afraid to get their hands dirty. They have taken major steps, however, to move away from gambling and have begun to enter the territory of real issues facing real people. We hope this is a sign of things to come and look forward to both candidates dealing with the reality of life beyond casinos. Have to also congratulate the campaigns for thus far ignoring ridiculous wedge issues like gay marriage and gun ownership.

We hope Beshear’s running mate, Dr. Daniel Mongiardo, forces this issue to the forefront. Being a state senator from the poverty-stricken hills of eastern Kentucky gives him a unique perspective that needs to be more prominent in this race.

Responses after the jump.

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