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Mayoral Forum hosted by CU students

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All six mayoral candidates participate in the event

By Zac Oakes

 

It was clear from the beginning of Tuesday night’s mayoral forum at Campbellsville University that each of the six candidates vying to be elected to the city’s highest executive office prioritize bringing jobs to the community. 

Jobs, or what candidates deemed to be a lack thereof in Campbellsville, dominated the discussion at Tuesday’s forum, an event organized by CU students to provide an opportunity for residents to learn more about each of the six candidates. 

The forum was moderated by Campbellsville University senior Alexandria Swanger with a panel of students asking questions, asked each candidate what their top priorities would be if elected mayor. 

Nearly all of them touched on job growth and/or attracting new industry to Campbellsville. 

Current city council member Sharon Hoskins-Sanders said that attracting new industry to Campbellsville will create more jobs, and therefore more revenue. Former Campbellsville Mayor Brenda Allen said attracting more factories to locate here will be one of her top priorities so that Campbellsville residents don’t have to leave town to find employment, while city council member Patti Phillips mentioned job growth as one of her top priorities, along with balancing the city’s budget. Local pastor Roger Robertson also cited the lack of industry in Campbellsville as a priority of his, as well as bringing back hazardous pay for EMS workers. Candidate Steven Seibech also mentioned job growth as a priority, along with the parks and doing something with the city’s pool. Incumbent mayor Tony Young said bringing new jobs was a priority of his, along with balancing the city’s budget. 

Throughout the event, the candidates continued to come back to job growth as a key talking point, making it a central focal point of the discussion. 

However, throughout the forum, candidates were questioned on an array of topics. 

 

Homelessness in Campbellsville

Candidates were asked what they would do regarding the city’s homeles issue if elected mayor. Estimates greatly vary on how many people in the Campbellsville/Taylor County community are truly homeless, but it could be near 100 or more, according to some estimates. Allen, who also serves on the Board of Directors for Green River Ministries, said GRM already does a lot of work in this regard and would like to see the city work more with what GRM already does. Many of the candidates spoke about the need for local churches to continue helping with the situation and said that as mayor, they would support churches working on the homeless issue. 

Mayoral candidate Steven Seibech said he has already participated in a couple of fundrasisers for GRM and said as mayor, he would look to come up with unique and innovative ideas for fundraisers to help with their mission. Phillips said if she were elected mayor, she would like to see more job training opportunities for homeless individuals. 

Although each candidate had some different ideas, all agreed that fighting the homelessness problem in Campbellsville has to be a multi-faceted approach and a community-wide effort. 

 

City infrastructure, roads, and the pool

Another common theme the candidates agreed on was the need for repairs to city roads, but that those repairs can be expensive. Young said the city receives $100,000 per year in state funding for road maintenance, which he says isn’t enough to make all the repairs needed to city streets. The city purchased some of its own paving equipment, Young said, to try to keep some of the work in-house, but said it was still difficult to repair every road that needed work. 

Other candidates agreed, but in particular, Seibech and Phillips said they would look at cutting funds from other areas of the budget in order to address the concern with road repairs. Phillips seemingly took a shot at Young in discussing this by stating that the city purchased a piece of property to be used as a parking lot for $150,000, money she said would have been much more wisely spent for road repairs or other areas. 

“First of all, you don’t spend $150,000 on a parking lot,” Phillips said. “You take that money and you put it toward the pool or toward potholes.”  

As for the city pool that remains unusable going into the summer season, the candidates agreed that something had to be done in order to give local residents a recreational opportunity. Seibech had ambitious plans for the pool, mentioning replacing the old pool with a 12-month indoor pool and potentially a waterpark. He said it would be a significant cost up front, but believes it would pay for itself over time and would be a major draw for the community and tourists. 

As of now, there is no immediate solution for the pool, which looks like it will be out of commission for the upcoming summer months, as it was last year. The pool is around 40 years old, and several options are being looked at for what the future of it may be. 

 

Transparency, accountability, and access

Candidates were asked how they would promote transparency, accountability, and access if they were to be elected mayor. Hoskins-Sanders said a key focus, if she were mayor, would be on team building. She said that would build better relationships with the public and city government and create a transparent and accessible government. 

Young said “transparency is the easiest thing I do.” He said he always welcomes in anyone who wants to talk about anything and is always open to hearing the ideas and opinions of the citizens of Campbellsville. 

Allen said that in her previous experience as mayor, she had an open-door and open-record philosophy, and that is something she would have again if elected. Phillips said she would focus on building strong relationships with city employees and be willing to listen to the concerns of citizens and employees. 

Seibech said he would like to have monthly meetings with the heads of each city department to gain a clearer understanding of how things are going in each department, and said he would make himself readily available outside business hours as he does in his current position as a manager at Sonic. 

Robertson said that as a minister, he already lives a life of transparency and accessibility, so continuing to exhibit those characteristics wouldn’t be a problem. 

 

Syringe exchange programs

Candidates were asked if they would support a syringe exchange program in Campbellsville due to the fact that for a program to begin operation, it must be approved by the city and county governments. Each of the six candidates said they would support such a program if it were to be brought before city government for approval. Seibech said it would be a step toward fighting the drug issue in the city, and Robertson echoed the same sentiment. Hoskins-Sanders said it would be a public health service and something she would support. Phillips recalled a recent incident in which she found a syringe that was underneath her car one day on Main Street, and said she would support it. Young and Allen also said they would support such an initiative. 

 

The forum was well-attended, with 125 or more citizens and students in attendance. The primary election is less than three weeks away, taking place on Tuesday, May 22. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Voters will make their choice for mayor and other candidates. The top two mayoral candidates who receive the most votes in the May primary will face off in the November general election. The CKNJ will be publishing profiles of the candidates for mayor in the May 17 issue.