Daniel Solzman: Thank you for joining The Kentucky Democrat today. You served as Chief of Staff to Governor Beshear from July 2008 up until a few weeks ago? What did the position entail?
Adam Edelen: As the Governor’s Chief of Staff I was responsible for the day to day operations of the Governor’s office. Specifically, I managed communications, internal and external outreach, logistics, scheduling, constituent relations -- essentially, the apparatus of government that was focused on promoting the Governor’s agenda.
DS: When did you decide you wanted to run for State Auditor? Did you speak to the current state auditor, Crit Luallen, while you were making the decision to run?
AE:: I first had an interest in running for Auditor four years ago when there was wide speculation that Crit was going to run for Governor or some other office. So I’ve always been interested in running for auditor, because I think it marries nicely with the experiences that I’ve had in both the public and private sectors. I am excited about the opportunity and have talked to Crit on a number of occasions about her experience in the office and her views about the opportunities and obstacles the job entails. Crit has been a friend and mentor for fifteen years and the opportunity to build upon the historic success she has had in the auditor's office is the kind of opportunity I welcome.
DS: What did you do as Director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security? Did you work with Kentucky State Police?
AE:: For the first 5 or 6 months of the Beshear administration I served as Director of Homeland Security. In that role, my job was to make sure that Kentucky’s frontline responders had the training, resources, and equipment they needed to do their job. I worked very closely with the State Police and local emergency management responders-- red lights and blue lights alike-- fire, police, EMS folks, and it was a great job. I was brought in to bring a more strategic business like approach to the way we allocated training and equipment resources during a challenging time when the needs were getting bigger but the resources being provided from Washington were decreasing.It was an important opportunity for me to do more with less to make sure that the office was run efficiently and effectively and in a way that our frontline first responders were always protected.
DS: Between government, business, and civic activities, were you able to find the time to have free time?
AE:: You know I am the son of a farmer and my mother is a very hard worker as well. So I think I inherited a work ethic. I don’t have a lot of hobbies outside of work. I really enjoy spending time with my children, spend a lot of time as an outdoorsman. I really enjoy hunting, fishing, and reading, but a lot of those hobbies have fallen by the wayside as my focus remains my family and my work.
DS: What are the three most pressing issues facing Kentuckians today?
AE:: The two most critical challenges facing Kentucky are education and job creation, and they are very closely tied. Our ability as a State to make investments in these two areas represent our best ability to move forward as a people. But both are being limited by a political culture that far too often has tolerated waste, corruption, inefficiency, and a culture of low expectations. As State Auditor, I think I have a particular background, insight, and passion for making sure every tax dollar is spent efficiently, effectively, and honestly. By doing this, we can we ensure that taxpayer's hard-earned dollars are stretched to invest in job creation and education, which represents our best hope for moving Kentucky forward.
DS: On a related note, will we ever see expanded gaming in Kentucky?
AE:: For the sake of the horse industry, which is one of Kentucky’s signature industries, I certainly hope that we will see some form of expanding gaming in the near future. The industry provides 100,000 jobs to the people of Kentucky and is a core element of the external branding that we communicate to the world. I'm optimistic that we will be able to take important steps forward to keep Kentucky's entertainment dollars in Kentucky, all the while helping to support our signature industry.
DS: This is a tough time economically for the commonwealth. If elected as state auditor, what would your primary goals be to help the state through the current economy?
AE:: In an era like ours when families are literally huddled around kitchen tables trying to make ends meet and to figure out how they’re going to send their sons and daughters to college and afford healthcare, I think it’s important to have elected political leadership that takes a similar approach to protecting our tax dollars. Again, my focus as state auditor will be in making sure that every dollar is spent transparently, efficiently, honestly, and in such a way that maximizes our investments in job creation and education -- in other words, invested in our people.
DS: As a graduate of the University of Kentucky, any comments on the upcoming basketball season? There's certainly no comparison to last season's magical team.
AE:: I am very excited about this year’s UK basketball team, particularly as I don’t think we have seen this kind of ability to shoot from the perimeter since Pitino’s old run and gun team. So it’s fun to see UK with a shooting team. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that we can get Enes Kanter or another big man down low to help balance out our offense. In terms of effort and terms of potential and promise, I’m very excited about these new young Cats and expect we'll do very well this year.
DS: Thank you again for joining us and keep up the good fight. Aside from the obligatory link to your campaign site, is there anything you would like to add?
I think this election -- particularly the auditor’s race, but a couple of others, as well -- represent an opportunity for the next generation of young people to step up and take more of a frontline role in determining the kind of future we want for Kentucky. Those of us with children and those of us beginning to make our careers have a lot of skin left in the game, and the people who have the opportunity to help fashion the future -- especially when you have so much at stake in it -- is an exciting opportunity. It's also why I encourage young people from across the spectrum in Kentucky to get involved in our campaign and others in 2011.