Edelen talks New Kentucky Project's statewide tour and ideas for Kentucky's future

07/27/2017 04:35 PM

The New Kentucky Project is set to embark on a tour across the state next week, and co-founder Adam Edelen says the group hopes to reach a new crop of civic leaders “who are willing to step up” and offer innovative ideas for Kentucky’s future.

The nonprofit’s first stop is scheduled for Darkness Brewing in Bellevue at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with others planned in Somerset, Morehead, Pikeville, Paducah, Bowling Green, Louisville, Owensboro and Lexington throughout August. The tour will feature Edelen, co-founder and Kentucky Sports Radio host Matt Jones, and members of the New Kentucky Project’s board.

The goal, Edelen says, is to get more individuals engaged in all levels of politics as the filing deadline for the 2018 election cycle nears.

“Kentucky will be better served when we get new people involved in the political process, and for some that means being a candidate,” he said in an interview with Pure Politics. “For others if means being an activist or just someone who wants to support people who are running for office, but building that talent bench of good ideas and good people is a big part of what the New Kentucky Project is about.”

Edelen, the former Democratic state auditor, said he would like to see an end to the days of individuals from well-connected families getting tapped for high-profile political opportunities, and he also discussed his group’s efforts to appeal to people from all political persuasions.

He noted that independent gubernatorial candidate Drew Curtis lead the New Kentucky Project’s first “Tomorrow Talk” earlier this month.

“The point is not so much about any given party,” Edelen said. “It’s just about identifying new people who are thinking about issues that impact Kentucky both now and in the future.”

Watch the first part of the interview with Edelen here:

One example of an important issue facing Kentucky, Edelen says, is the availability of high-speed Internet. He said in some small towns, people flock to McDonald’s from 4-6 p.m. not just for “hamburgers and milkshakes” but to also use the fast-food restaurant’s WiFi to download their children’s homework assignments or to work.

“In an age when being connected to digital infrastructure is a prerequisite of being able to compete in the global economy, the fact that so much of our state doesn’t have broadband coverage I think is an indictment,” he said.

Renewable energy is another example of an issue that will impact Kentucky’s future, Edelen says.

He’s been involved in renewable-energy ventures like a solar farm built on a reclaimed mining site in Pike County and helping Lexington’s Catholic Action Center become the first homeless shelter to transition to solar power without government grants.

Edelen said political leaders should recognize that Kentucky’s energy portfolio should be diversified and that coal mining “will never be so broad that it can support a whole region again. Those days are gone.”

“It’s going to happen here whether we support it or not, but my belief is that if we had policies that were just a little more modern, that put the power in the hands of the utility subscribers rather than just the utilities or big government that we could spur a revolution in this state that would create thousands of jobs, just like we’ve seen in other parts of the country,” he said. “It’s coming. This is not just the future – it’s the present.”

Watch the second part of the interview with Edelen here:


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