On Wednesday evening, Feb. 8, Republican gubernatorial candidate Alan Keck held a town hall in Princeton where community members gathered at the Carriage House at Adsmore to hear him speak. Keck shared that he’s holding these town halls as a way to connect with voters throughout Kentucky. He mingled among the crowd before the event started, and later explained why he’s using a town hall format, which encourages audience participation.

“I also like to answer your questions because when you ask it, I learn and understand what’s important to you,” Keck said.

Keck said he’s a fourth-generation entrepreneur, and his father opened his own recycling business. Keck is also a two-term mayor of Somerset. He brings both private sector and government experience as a candidate.

“Kentucky is a rural state,” he said. “It’s a collection of small communities.” He explained he wants to see Kentucky reach its full potential.

“So, for us to be successful and reach our potential, we have to have these communities doing well,” Keck added.

Before answering questions, Keck outlined his policy that consists of four main points. The first point is economy.

“We have a growth crisis,” he said.

“We just left our second slowest decade of growth in 100 years, and that then exacerbates all these other problems. The second crisis is a workforce crisis. We’re 47th, 48th, as low as 49th in workforce participation. The last number that I saw published, there were 162,000 jobs, which essentially means we have an unemployment rate of zero. If you want a job in Kentucky right now, you can get one.”

He also said he wants to support the legislature’s plan to get rid of state income tax.

The second component of his platform is public safety. Keck said we need to go beyond backing the blue, and need to back the badge. The third component is education, and the fourth is family.

“I’m a pro-life, Christian conservative,” Keck said, and he feels that Kentucky can do more for families.

“I want Kentucky to not just be the most pro-life state. I want it to be the most pro-family state,” he said.

Keck shared with the crowd he has no doubt that his plan can come to fruition.

One of the first questions Keck received was how he would replace the funding if the income tax was eliminated. He said he would increase sales tax, but would not be taxing food or prescriptions.

Next, he was asked about the drug epidemic in Kentucky, which he said stemmed from two societal ills.

“(The) first one is we no longer fear God in this country,” he said. “And when you’re not worried about the consequences of sin or behavior, it leads to recklessness.” The second, according to him, is the breakdown of family.

“I want to be a state that encourages more of the behaviors that we want, which is a family that’s holistic and that’s doing things the right way,” he said. Keck was also asked about how he would approach the coal industry. While Keck said he doesn’t have a specific plan in place, his platform provides a broad approach.

“My approach on energy is — one, we need to leverage as much domestic supply as we can,” he said. “We see what’s happening when we’re so dependent on foreign oil.”

When asked how Kentucky can become more economically competitive, Keck said the elimination of income tax would lead to a growth in population, which will lead to growth in both the workforce and pension.

Keck said he was not a fan of the approach in which officials try to divvy up a metaphorical pie to make sure everyone has something, but instead wants to grow what we have so there is enough for everyone.

“You have to understand how to grow the pie,” he said.