Razmus, Duncan honored at 5th District Lincoln Banquet

Apr. 19—Being compared to Nancy Mitchell is an honor that Corbin Mayor Suzie Razmus takes seriously.

On Saturday night, Razmus was presented with the Nancy Mitchell Women in Leadership Award during the 5th District Lincoln Dinner at the Corbin Arena.

"I am humbled and honored to be recognized with the Nancy Mitchell Women in Leadership Award. Nancy was a rock star who paved the way for women in Corbin," Razmus said.

Mitchell did indeed leave a mark on the Corbin community — as well as across the state. The wife of businessman and political contributor Bob Mitchell, Nancy Mitchell herself was active in community and political events before her passing in 2021.

"Nancy was truly an inspiring individual who modeled for women what it looks like when you reach for your fullest potential," Razmus said. "Nancy was the first female commissioner in the history of the City of Corbin and also the first female member of the Corbin Kiwanis Club. I'm sure neither of those were easy. Her willingness to step and serve her community in a time when women were not occupying that spade continues to be an inspiration. She showed us courage and leadership and I am so proud to be receiving this award that is named in her honor. We live in a different world around here, a better world, thanks to Nancy."

While she attributes the progression of women in today's society, Razmus has also made her own mark in local history. She is the first female Mayor of Corbin — in fact, the only female Mayor in the Tri-County area. Neither London, Barbourville nor Williamsburg has ever had a female mayor although there have been female candidates in the past.

Razmus' award was presented by Karen Kelly, Chief of Staff for U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers, and Mitchell's daughter, Jenny Barnett. Kelly is a prior recipient of the Nancy Mitchell award.

The gathering also honored Mike Duncan, former Republican National Committee Chair, with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Duncan served with honor as National Republican Chair and said he tried to influence Duncan to run for political office. Duncan declined, however, with McConnell stating that Duncan chose to serve in other means.

"In Washington, it's rare to find an individual equally skilled at navigating the worlds of business and politics. But my good friend Mike is just that rare hybrid," said Sen. McConnell. "Despite his success standing up a chain of community banks, Mike chose to commit his considerable talents to public service. Mike has devoted decades to student mentorship, training young people in Appalachia, and sponsoring their continued education."

U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers also credited Duncan for his work, not just as Republican Party chair but for other programs he established.

Rogers said Duncan was influential in The Center for Rural Development and that some of the organizations and programs that began there. He also credited Duncan for Operation UNITE and establishing Rogers Scholars program.

"We have been blessed to have leaders from Kentucky rise up to prominent positions for our country, including our friend Mike Duncan, who paved a path all the way from Martin County to the White House. He has dedicated a lifetime to promoting the conservative values that we believe protect and guide this great nation," said Rogers. "Even during his time working at the federal level, Mike carved out time to give back to his hometown community and mentor rising student leaders. Mike has made a lasting impact in Kentucky's Fifth Congressional District and I am grateful for his hard work and friendship."

Duncan, a 50-year political strategist and veteran of Republican politics, was elected as the 60th Chairman of the Republican National Committee in 2007. He also served as Governor of the United States Postal Service, Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and served five Republican Presidents.

In addition to his success in the banking industry, Duncan served as Board Chairman of Morehead State University, and he currently serves as chairman of Alice Lloyd College. He has served for many years as a Board Member of the Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Kentucky and was a Trustee of the Christian Appalachian Project, the 15th largest private social services agency in America. Duncan's student-mentoring program has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Los Angeles Times.

Duncan, however, said his work with the Republican party was to elect people to office, not to debate the issues. He stated that debates are the place of the candidates, not the party.

Tim Robinson, founding President and CEO of Addiction Recovery Care, announced a new college scholarship named in honor of Mike Duncan. The first-ever scholarship award was presented during the banquet to Jackson Gay, a graduate of Jackson Independent in Breathitt County. Gay is currently a student at the University of Kentucky and an intern in the Capitol offices of Senator McConnell, studying Political Science and Appalachian Studies. He will receive the scholarship this fall.

"Mike has invested so much into raising up the next generation of Republican leaders, so we want this scholarship to help inspire and equip more of our future leaders for greatness," said Robinson. "Our inaugural recipient, Jackson Gay, has volunteered to work on several political campaigns, and he started a Republican club at his high school, which requires a higher level of courage and boldness with your peers. We have been impressed by his work ethic, and I believe he has a very bright future ahead."