Ag school alumnus runs for state house

Alumnus Richard Heath is running for the state house. Heath visited the campus Wednesday and discussed his Murray State memories. || Allie Douglass/The News

Haley Russell
Assistant News Editor

Richard Heath, Murray State alumnus, has entered the race for 2nd District State Representative after current Mayfield, Ky., Democrat Rep. Fred Nesler announced his retirement in December.

Heath was raised on a farm in Graves County, Ky., and eventually bought it from his father when he was 19 years old.

In 1979, he put himself through college at Murray State while continuing to own and run the farm. After graduating college with a teaching degree, Heath taught one year of school in Farmersville, Tenn.

He then entered the business world, and took a full time job at the Graves County Co-op in Mayfield and sold this farm to the conservation reserve.

After two years, Heath moved up to manage the Co-op, a position he held for 13 years.

During this 13 years Heath grew the business from $1.3 million in sales to more than $4 million and added jobs, products and services.

Heath bought his brother’s business, Heath Building Material, and still owns it today.

Heath said he decided to enter the race when Nesler announced his retirement in The Mayfield Messenger.

“As soon as I read that article, the thought ran through my mind ‘there’s the opportunity that I’ve been waiting for; I should run for that office,’” he said.

Heath said he kept the idea to himself during the Christmas holidays and brought it up to his wife and kids in late December.

Heath said he feels he is the best candidate for the 2nd District because of his ability to create jobs.

“Of course everybody’s got jobs on their mind,” he said. “It’s no secret to anybody that not only western Kentucky needs jobs, but District 2 needs jobs and the state of Kentucky and the United States needs jobs and when I was at the Co-op, when I grew the business … I was able to develop job opportunities for people who wanted to come on board and join the team.”

Heath said he wants to take his experience in job creation to Frankfort.

He said creating jobs for the district will involve four aspects: education, better taxation, affordable healthcare and regulatory relief.

“Education is key to developing job opportunities anywhere,” he said. “My focus will be on improving education opportunities for our constituents.”

Heath said the education he received from Murray State allowed him to be a stronger candidate for the jobs he applied for after graduating.

“(Murray State) made me very aware of how important education is in the job market, because first of all, I had to get a college degree to get a job teaching school,” he said.

When applying for the Graves County Co-op management position, Heath said the college education he received at Murray State helped him stay in the running for the job, as they did not consider applicants without a degree.

“The problem-solving skills I learned at Murray State and the ability to address issues that face the businesses that I was put in charge of, that all comes back to you when you’re put to the test,” he said.

Heath said he still recalls what he learned at his time at Murray State.

“Being able to draw from my learning experiences at Murray State and being able to apply those principles to the job opportunity that I had before me; it worked hand in hand.”

Ruth Heath, Richard Heath’s wife, said she had always encouraged her husband to run for an office, teasing him about his popularity within the community.

“I told him that if that’s something he wanted to do, then we’ll do it,” she said.

She said because her husband stands for what he believes in, is not easily swayed and has such an extentsive business background, she is confident her husband is the most qualified candidate.

Other candidiates for the 2nd district seat include Arthur Byrn of Mayfield, Kelly Whitaker of Hickory, Pat

Richard and Robin Heath will host a meet and greet with a spaghetti dinner 4-7 p.m. on Feb. 11 at The Gathering in Mayfield.