The county is better off with four voices in Frankfort instead of one, according to some.
The other side of the argument is that we have no true representation in state government because Harlan County is the second, or lower, priority for all the legislators, who live in other counties and have their home county's interests as their first priority.
I lean toward the second option after looking at our county's lack of progress in recent years. Proclamations and signs are fine, but Harlan County hasn't received a lot of tangible help from state government in quite awhile.
There's reason for hope with Daniel Mongiardo, our current state senator and a Hazard resident, being sworn in later this month as lieutenant governor.
It became clear the last couple of years that Ernie Fletcher had written off Harlan County and was focusing all his attention in southeastern Kentucky on the Whitley-Laurel counties area. The weekly newspaper in Corbin made several pleas to residents there to vote for Fletcher because of all the projects he brought to the area.
With Steve Beshear and Mongiardo in charge, our four-representative team should be able to make some headway in Frankfort in helping Harlan County.
Harlan Countians interested in encouraging our legislators and helping identify our county's needs will have an opportunity to contribute during a series of forums planned Tuesday - at 2 p.m. at the Harlan Center, at 4 at the Evarts City Hall and at 6 at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Cumberland.
The Harlan County and Tri-City Chambers of Commerce, as well as the city of Evarts, should be commended for helping put together the forums, and all city and county leaders should attend and help come up with a consensus on the county's greatest needs.
Anyone who attended the recent General Assembly transportation committee meeting at Pine Mountain State Park can tell you that Harlan County's transportation needs are clearly greater than the rest of eastern Kentucky combined.
Several county judge-executives discussed other subjects with the committee, such as jails, apparently because they couldn't come up with a single road project needed in their county. Other judge-executives described their quest for minor improvements, but none came close to matching Harlan County's needs following decades of neglect.
Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop detailed several projects needed here, and the Harlan County Chamber of Commerce has compiled a list, led by an improved U.S. 421 to Hazard and expanded U.S. 119 to Pineville.
Part of the problem has been Harlan Countians' inability to work together toward projects that would benefit our entire county, but the bottom line is there's been a lot of talk and very little action in improving Harlan County's situation. Perhaps Tuesday's forum can be the start of a new, more aggressive, approach.