To the Editor:
Those of us living in Letcher County want a community with meaningful, well-paying jobs. Those of us who live here see a future in this county and we are willing to work hard for it.
Many have already given more than their fair share in blood, sweat, and tears, but they’ve grown tired of the superficial options they’ve been presented with by politicians beholden to large corporations and unwilling to give even an honest diagnosis of the region’s economic problems.
There is great wealth in this place — not necessarily cash wealth, but wealth in heritage, relationships, the beauty of our mountains, and the creativity of our young people — that, with the right leadership, can be the foundation for prosperity in the mountains. There is no doubt about that.
Recently, Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate Sellus Wilder visited the fiesta room of Las Penas Mexican Restaurant in Whitesburg. Wilder didn’t bring his soapbox to stump on; I don’t think he has one. He spent most of that Sunday afternoon in April listening to Letcher County residents talk about community issues such as black lung, substance abuse, and economic inequality. He wasn’t afraid to pipe in with what he believes about how to make this region stronger.
Sellus Wilder understands that as the coal industry declines, eastern Kentuckians deserve and are ready for more economic opportunities. If a new economy means more job options, we are willing to try new things for the sake of our families.
Unlike some Kentucky Democrats, Sellus Wilder is willing to provide us with the honesty we deserve. He realizes that the longer we pretend that coal is going to return, the greater disservice we pay ourselves. The obstacles to a sustainable economy in the mountains are considerable, but we forego any shot we’ve got if we elect leaders in Washington who won’t even recognize the need for economic diversification.
Sellus Wilder is an honest man who has run a campaign according to the principles he believes in, regardless of their popularity in the media or even in his party. This is a man who, by his own pledge, has not taken a nickel from a “Super PAC.”
If we want a Letcher County that is truly thriving, it will take a fundamentally different approach to our economy than what has produced the double-digit unemployment rate in Letcher County.
If we want change, we must reward boldness. Sellus Wilder has provided us with a choice.