“The holding company is in Paducah, but we make concrete here in Cadiz. Our concrete was used in this building,” he said of the new Benson plant.
After the tour, Harper discussed his campaign. “I’ve been an advocate for education in Kentucky, and have been interested in what our potential could be. There is no silver bullet for education, but we should but all the attention we can into early childhood development. We can identify potential dropouts by the fourth grade. Why not make sure as many students as possible graduate by placing special emphasis on the early grade levels? The average starting job in Kentucky has higher entrance requirements than universities. We should teach skills to students’ strengths, such as operating a robot, manual welding, human resources or management,” Harper said in reference to his tour of the Benson operation.
Harper said that the Federal “No Child Left Behind” policy focused on every student, rather than identifying “a set of students that need special help.” He said, “From that standpoint some students are not getting help. It is not a bad policy, but it is expensive. Any time we see a mandate from Washington, we are always a bit skeptical.”
With experience as Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s finance chairman and a member of the McCracken County School Board, Harper joined the gubernatorial race because he feels that voters are “sick and tired of politicians and bureaucrats.” He added, “It is time for a businessman to run for governor.”
Harper said he was unsure if the hiring practice controversy had weakened the incumbent governor’s support within the state. “You would have to ask the voters and the people who run the polls why the numbers are so low.”
Planning to take the high ground in his campaign, Harper made a pledge to refrain from negative campaigning. “We will not run any negative ads. If attacked we will respond.” He added that he planned to be active in fundraising. “We will do lots of fundraising. Of course you have to put some seed money into a campaign.”
With ties to the western portion of the state, Harper said, “We will rely on our base of support in Western Kentucky. At one fundraiser at my home, I was very surprised by the turnout and results. There is a lot Frankfort could have done to improve Western Kentucky.”
Asked about his plans for Trigg County if elected, Harper said, “The worst thing I could do is promise anything in particular. We have to put all projects in line, deal with education, job creation and other issues.”
More on Billy Harper in this week's Cadiz Record.