Danville candidates debate

October 20, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

Incumbents Ryan Owens and Chester Kavanaugh defended their positions on controversial votes, while other candidates for Danville City Commission took the opposite side during a debate Tuesday.

During rapid-fire questions, where candidates were allowed only "yes" or "no" answers, Owens and Kavanaugh stood by their votes on the location for a southend fire station, and a decision not to fix the entrance to Danville Manor shopping center.

Four seats on the Commission are available to eight candidates in the Nov. 2 election: Kevin Caudill, Terry Crowley, Jamey Gay, Gordon Howe, Chester Kavanaugh, Tom McKune, Ryan Owens and Alex Stevens.

Most of the format required no debate, but gave the candidates an opportunity to explain their positions. The rapid-fire questions involved the most lively exchange.


Incumbents defended the commission's frequent executive sessions, but all of the challengers said they happen too often.

Everyone said they were open to alternatives to expansion of the Danville Bypass, curbside recycling and $35,000 in funding for the Great American Brass Band Festival. Everyone but Owens supported a smoking ban in city-owned buildings. Only Crowley favors limited Sunday alcohol sales.

Stevens, Howe and Owens say the city needs no anti-nepotism policy. Owens and McKune said the city needs more police and fire protection.

Gay, Owens and Crowley agreed the city should not spend more money on Millennium Park.

Stevens, Kavanaugh and Owens said they would not hire private companies to do some of the work now done by city employees. The city recently hired a private company to landscape its cemeteries.

Howe and Stevens do not believe the city should own cemeteries.

A bowl of questions

In the first two-thirds of the debate, candidates drew from a bowl questions, some of them submitted by members of the audience. During that section:

Owens repeated his mantra that federal and state funding are needed to revitalize downtown, attract companies and industries, to build sewerage and stop flooding. He said that he had been a lobbyist for the city, attending meetings and calling Frankfort and Washington D.C.

Caudill said that the city needs the Heart of Danville, and that it cannot perform its duties by itself. Earlier this year the commission severely cut funding to the Heart of Danville, and several commissioners said that the city could take up its duties.

Gay said that he believes the city's quality of life, arts and recreation, would help recruit businesses. He also said that the sign ordinance needs to be revamped and then enforced.

When asked about a smoking ban in restaurants, Caudill asked, jokingly, for another question. He said that he used to think it was a matter of choice, but now that his 18-year-old daughter works in a restaurant he believes it is more of a health issue.

Crowley said that the sewerage problems in Junction City should be fixed as soon as possible.

Kavanaugh said that the city needs to work on its capital improvements fund.

Stevens said that he is opposed to raising the alcohol tax from 5 percent to 8 percent.

Restoring public faith

Asked how to restore public faith in the commission, Crowley said he would be frank, honest and able to disagree. Caudill said he would be open and available to talk. Gay said he wants to use the Web site to keep people informed. McKune said he is an independent thinker, who would consider the issues thoroughly.

When the same question came to Stevens, Howe, Kavanaugh and Owens they seemed to have misunderstood it as, "What are the most important issues facing the city?" Stevens said Millennium Park and the parking garage. Howe said cemetery and parking garage. Owens said new jobs and stormwater. Kavanaugh said economic development and education about the city manager form of government.

McKune presented himself as pro-planning, and said that he thought good planning would draw jobs and people to the area.

Howe said that if minorities and women want to advance themselves, they should set aside the fact that they are women or minorities and get involved in education and literacy programs. In answers to other questions, he said he wanted to solve supervision problems at the cemeteries and get the parking garage built.

All the candidates seemed to be put on the spot when they were asked if they believe commissioners and their families should be offered health insurance coverage. Owens said he believes only commissioners should receive the benefit, not their families. He made it a point that he was the only commissioner that only took the single coverage. He's also the only single commissioner.

McKune and Stevens said they would not take the insurance. Crowley said that he did not know about the coverage until after he was elected to his first term, but that he also didn't realize how hard the job was, and that he thought it was compensation for the work.

Central Kentucky News Articles