Met with local citizens
PADUCAH, Ky. (March 23, 2017) — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes was in Paducah today as part of her statewide tour discussing the findings of the Kentucky Civic Health Index she released in January.
The index measures the state of engagement and civic literacy in the commonwealth through the study of several indicators. Grimes’ tour includes talks with citizens in each Congressional district about how to more people Kentuckians engaged and informed.
“Every time I travel to West Kentucky, I learn more about the perceived disconnect between this part of the commonwealth and the rest,” Grimes said. “We have to bridge that divide, and that begins with engagement, reaching out and talking with fellow citizens and Kentuckians, and becoming involved in your government.”
The index showed the commonwealth improved in national rankings in social connectedness, community engagement and voter registration since Grimes released the first report in 2012. But, it also showed that fewer than half of Kentuckians have confidence in media, a decline of more than 10 percent in three years, and fewer Kentuckians are trusting of their neighbors. Overall, Kentucky ranks 48th in the nation, ahead of only New Mexico (49th), Montana (50th) and Utah (51st), for public confidence in media.
Joining Grimes on a panel was Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless, West Kentucky Community and Technical College President Dr. Anton Reece, Paducah Sun Editor Steve Wilson, Rev. Babydoll Kennedy and local author and activist Jimmy LaSalvia.
Wilson said the distrust in media was partly due to how politically divided the country has become. LaSalvia echoed that opinion, saying “programming designed to perpetuate political fights” cause citizens to become disenchanted.
Part of the conversation centered on political participation and voter turnout. Panelists agreed that solutions to big problems can be found on the local level. Kennedy said, “Local engagement in politics and voting, and it’s based on the tone set by local leaders.”
Harless said, “On the local level is where we’re going to solve the problems we face.