In June 23 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Editor
Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor Jerry Abramson visited Russell County on Thursday as he spoke to a crowd of supporters at the KEA building in Russell Springs on why they should elect him and his running mate, incumbent Gov. Steve Beshear, in the fall's gubernatorial election.
"If you'll give Steve the chance to have four more years as this economy gets better we'll be in much better shape, I think, with him at the helm and I hope you'll see the most active lieutenant governor in your recollection in the kinds of activities I'm going to be doing," Abramson said to the crowd.
It was the first speaking engagement, which was arranged by Russell County Democratic Chair Lou Ann Gore Flanagan, of Abramson, the former longtime Louisville and Louisville Metro mayor, in Russell County and he connected with those in attendance on a number of issues.
"You've got a Democratic county judge in Gary Robertson," Abramson said of primarily Republican Russell County. "Obviously this is a county that in the past has always voted Republican but in this case the constituents here decided to vote Democratic."
He said it was his belief at the local level that it is the candidate whose views and leadership skills best fits the position, regardless of party affiliation.
"In this county, with the new county judge, it looks like people are beginning to step away from the label of Democrat or Republican and looking at the individuals," he said. "I believe there is a significant difference in terms of public policy and where they stand between the governor and his opponent and that's why we're here, to lay it out, make it clear and let people make the decision."
Abramson made the push for jobs and education, saying he and Beshear would do their best to bring industry to Russell County and to make sure public schools were properly funded during a financially struggling time.
"I can help the governor in selling the state and attracting expanded investment or new companies," he said. "I can help the governor in education. Education is the great level, if you don't have an education you start so far back you can't compete."
He also spoke on how he can connect with counties as he has faced many of the same problems in Louisville.
"I can help the mayors and the county judges, I've been both," he said. "I understand jails and roads, healthcare, sewers and waterlines, neighborhoods and parks … I've been there with a very large community.
"Whether I'm in Russell Springs or I'm in Bowling Green, Berea or Richmond you find that the cities and counties you visit around the state are dealing with the same issues that I dealt with as mayor and county judge of Jefferson County," Abramson said. "If you're fighting prescription drugs we had the same problem, if you're fighting methamphetamine we had the same problem, if you've got sewer problems, water problems, road problems, all those are issues that I've dealt with."
He said being from a metropolitan area like Louisville hasn't hindered him connecting with more rural folks like he had envisioned earlier in the campaign.
"I found I have a lot more in common with the county judges and mayors and the issues they're dealing with than what separates us," he said. "What you find as you travel the state is so many people have watched Louisville develop over the past 25 years, that's been my scope of time in a leadership role."
He said with the expanse and variety that Louisville offers he has grown accustom to solving a variety of problems.
"I've got buffalo roaming on farmland in my merged community," he said. "I've got Christmas tree farms, I've got coyote problems. I add value to the governor, who comes from Dawson Springs, a small community in western Kentucky. He comes in with an understanding better than I of the rural areas and I with an understanding better than he does of the more metropolitan areas, together I think we make a heck of a team. I truly believe I can help this ticket."
Abramson grew up working in his father's three-aisle grocery store on South Preston Street in Louisville. There, he learned the importance of hard work, selfless service and community pride while stocking shelves and delivering groceries to his neighbors.
After earning a business degree from Indiana University, serving in the Army, and receiving a law degree from Georgetown University, Abramson put his skills to practice in his hometown of Louisville. His passion for public service quickly led voters to elect him as mayor of Kentucky's largest city by the time he was 40 years old.
In twenty-one years as Louisville's mayor, Jerry helped turn a struggling river city into a vibrant economic center. Abramson served three terms as leader of the City of Louisville in the 1980's and 1990's, and then led the successful effort to unify city and county governments into a single, more efficient government. He was elected the first Mayor of Louisville Metro in November 2002 with nearly 74 percent of the vote, and represented its 700,000 citizens for two full terms.??
Jerry is currently an executive in residence at Bellarmine University and lives with his wife, Madeline, in Louisville. They have one son, Sidney.