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Boyle’s election winners must now represent everyone

By ELAINE WILSON-REDDY

Contributing columnist

Election results from Tuesday produced some surprises and insight into our local governing bodies. My thoughts on those results:

City Commission: The people of Danville spoke loud and clear when they re-elected the entire city commission for their third consecutive term. It shows that this body, while they do not agree on all things, has the confidence of the community. One of the challengers stated in an Advocate-Messenger article that they won only on name recognition. That is probably a true statement since they have governed together for four years. Their experience is what Danville needs.

This group of commissioners brings with them the issue of paying first responders. The city manager has conducted an extensive salary and benefits survey of cities similar to Danville. I hope this information will be made public so everyone has an opportunity to see how first responders are compensated across the state. Additionally, I encourage the city manager, commission, and first responder leaders to meet regularly so stakeholders have a voice in the process. Finally, our community must realize that increases in first responder pay and benefits will need to be funded. Will that happen with a tax increase or decreased services in another area? Difficult conversations and hard choices are ahead.

Danville School Board: I am extremely pleased with the final results of the school board election. We now have a group of people who don’t have an agenda other than taking care of ALL the students in the Danville schools. I look forward to having a healthy board that works with our new superintendent to strengthen our schools.

The third school board member was decided by one vote. This difference once again emphasizes the importance of all votes. There are no insignificant votes.

Boyle County attorney: This result was one that upset me for several reasons. I admire and respect Lynne Dean’s work as our community’s chief prosecutor. She brings a balance of compassion, empathy, and knowledge of the law required for the very difficult cases she oversees. Losing her institutional knowledge and experience is going to be a palpable loss.

Chris Herron has a steep learning curve and huge shoes to fill. I hope he doesn’t become overwhelmed to the detriment of those he serves. Additionally, Herron needs to remember that his responsibility to oversee his cases are separate and apart from his political leanings. When he takes office, his advisors are not to be the local Republican party.

County judge-executive: Once again, the power of a few votes made a difference in this race. It looked as if Gary Chidester was going to win with a single vote difference before a late-reporting precinct put Howard Hunt up by 17 votes.

The Boyle Fiscal Court has been a hotbed of good old boys politics for a very long time. Maybe Hunt, along with the new faces on the court, will base their decisions on what’s best for the county, remember that Danville is in the county, and be less interested in sticking it to the city of Danville. Only time will tell.

My final thought concerns the numerous forums during this election cycle. There was a time when political forums were neutrally produced in order for citizens to get a balanced perspective on candidates’ views.

I attended two forums this year, the Danville school board forum and city commission forum. Candidates were supposedly not given the questions in advance. In the school board forum, it appeared to me that one candidate was reading his answers to questions he was not supposed to have.

The city commission forum was a fiasco from start to finish with candidates getting only one minute each to respond to backward looking questions. I felt bad for all involved. Questions contained inaccurate information that was stated as fact. It seemed as if the questions were being written while the candidates were giving their opening remarks. It was a mess.

For the next local election cycle, would it serve our community better if forums were produced by a politically neutral entity? I’m spitballing here, but maybe our community service organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis could go together and produce the forums. If not those groups, then possibly a group of community members, in conjunction with the newspaper and radio station, could manage the forums.

The bottom line is if we are going to have candidate forums, the playing fields need to be level, without political or personal agenda.

Thank you to all of the citizens who were candidates. It’s hard to run for public office.

Congratulations to those who won. Please keep in mind that your responsibility is to represent ALL of the people, not just those who helped you get elected.

G. Elaine Wilson-Reddy, JD, is a professional educator, consultant and advocate. She lives in Danville.