Republican Party growing in Pendleton County
For the chairperson of the Pendleton County Republican party, his life began as a Republican in the family tobacco stripping room in Peach Grove.
Billy Matthews recalled, “Probably my first memories of politics would actually be in the stripping room on the farm. I remember by great-uncle, Jim Roseberry was magistrate.”
At a time before cellphones, business was done face-to-face.
“After a time, I realized it was other magistrates and people who would come to talk business and politics,” explained Matthews.
He went on to point out that his family is pretty conservative and from what family lore has, they did not even vote for FDR.
“The family motto was if you didn’t work, you didn’t eat. So I don’t think my family, a bunch of farmers, felt welfare programs were not fair for the working class,” Matthews said.
He continued, “I just feel the conservative message, the Republican message is more, I don’t know if it is motto or theme. We are just more conservative minded people than the left-leaning are.”
Continuing with the theme, five or six years ago, he was invited by his cousin, Bill Roseberry to join a newly formed Pendleton County Executive Committee Republican Party.
With Matthews coming on board as treasurer, Roseberry told him, “You are not going to have a lot of work to do as there are not many Republicans in Pendleton County and there’s a lot less money than Republicans.”
When Roseberry resigned four years ago, Matthews took over the mantle of leadership and indicated, “It has led to a lot of great opportunities for me.”
He presently serves as the Northern Kentucky Field Representative for Senator Rand Paul.
He emphasized that the position is not a political position. “I work for the United States Senate and I’m paid by the Senate.”
He covers eleven counties for the Senator from Trimble through Northern Kentucky and south to Owen, Grant, Pendleton and Harrison Counties.
He represents the Senator at events and meetings throughout that area but was quick to point out Senator Paul has a great constituent service area in Bowling Green.
“There’s about seven or eight ladies down there. I’m to seek out and found the problems,” he said.
Those problems could be with Social Security benefits, lost military medals, passport issues,or a slew of other issues.
“I will put you in contact with those ladies who are volunteers and they will create a case file and walk you through or do the work for you depending on your availability in getting what you need,” he explained.
Pendleton County residents that are having issues themselves or issues for their parents can reach out to Matthews to help navigate the murky waters of the federal government. Anyone needing his help can reach him at Billy_Matthews@paul.senate.gov.
With the Republicans having control of both chambers of the Congress and Kentucky Legislature as well as the President and Governor office, Matthews saw some positives and some concerns.
“I think on the economic and fiscal side, the money side, they’re doing very well. In both places, both the governor’s office and president’s office, they are removing legislation put in over the past ....20 years,” he said.
Going back to George W. Bush’s administration and using the Patriot Act as an example, he expressed concern on what was done being good or even constitutional.
“These administrations now are kind of walking back a lot those regulations and we have not seen economic growth in this part of the country in decades,” he commented about the actions of the Republican leadership.
He went on to challenge the concept of the Democrat party being the only party for the blue-collar class.
“It has been refreshing actually to see the president and the governor really care about the working people like the Democratic Party has said they’ve always been for working person. Well, these two administrations are actually talking more about the blue-collar factory worker, the coal miner, a truck driver and really getting rid of a lot of chains that has binded them from economic growth.”
He cited the low unemployment rates in both Kentucky and the nation while cutting taxes but was concerned about the growing budget deficit.
“However, they need to cut spending as well. They’ve only done half of their job. You cannot cut an income without cutting an out going,” he pointed out in being critical of decisions made by the legislative branch that controls the spending of both the state and federal government.
Matthews pointed out that both President Trump and Governor Bevins are seasoned politicians who say what they think. While it’s a good attribute in business which is their background, it does not always fit the political realm.
Looking forward to the midterm elections, he harkens back to England’s control and how we simply do not like one party to be fully in control.
“We have found out that our government works well when one party controls either the House and Senate and the other party controls the other body and the executive branch,” said the county chair.
He fully conceded that if either party is in control and running wild, they need to be voted out but cautioned he did not feel that the Republicans are out of control at either level.....”yet.”
My prediction is that there is not going to be a blue wave in November, there might be a little blue ripple,” he said.
Both county chairpersons agreed that it was not about party in Pendleton County’s local races.
“For the most part here in the rural area, you vote for the person you like. You vote for the person you know. The person you went to Sunday School with or graduating with,” he pointed out.
He has watched Pendleton County change over the past decade and cited registration numbers with Democrats a little over 5,000 in the county and Republicans a little over 4,000. Ten years ago, he said that same number was six to three. It’s a result of a youth movement according to Matthews who listed a number of Northern Kentucky counties that has a chairperson who is younger than 40 years of age.
Republican Thomas Massie will be running to return to Washington D.C. as the House of Representatives. Matthews made the point that it was the first Congressional district to switch to Republican and is a very conservative district.
Two Republicans will look to return to Frankfort. Mark Hart is the first native Pendleton Countian who has went to Frankfort to represent the county since the 1960’s. Wil Schroder is seeking to retain his Senate seat.
“Mark and Wil have the experience and made tough votes that best represented their people,” Matthews said.
With Alan Whaley running unopposed in District 1, Republicans will be guaranteed one conservative voice on Fiscal Court.
Josh Plummer for District 2, Darrin Gregg in District 3 and Steven Foster in District 4 give a wide variety experiences according to Matthews.
Allen has a medical background. Steven is a retired police officer and has an outsider’s eyes in looking at things Pendleton County is doing. Plummer has a younger idea of what Pendleton County could and should be like. Gregg who is a bus driver, a farmer and is the picture of the common man.
Matthews said, “You have all of these demographics who would make up one great Fiscal Court. They all have a different perspective.”
David Fields is looking for a second term as Pendleton County Judge Executive.
Stacey Sanning is the Republican looking to unseat Jeff Dean as County Attorney.
Eddie Quinn is seeking to return to the Pendleton County Sheriff’s Office as the its’ leader. He won a four-way race in the Republican primary.
“That’s an example of hit being a historic year for Republicans in Pendleton County. There is a reason for them to go out and vote in primaries where 10 years ago, there would not have been,” said Matthews who pointed out both District 2 and District 3.
“Don’t make it personal. Don’t talk about them because you live with them. Talk about why you are better and the right choice,” he said in hoping the route that candidates in local races would choose.
The Executive Committee is made up of Don Wentzel who is Vice President, Rick Brown who is Secretary, and Josh Plummer is Treasurer.
He also gave a shout out to Truly Jones who moved to Gardnersville area from Kenton County as a driving force behind the revamping of the party.
The full conversation can be viewed at www.falmouthoutlook.com and click on the video section.