Magistrates must remember they represent Danville residents

Published 6:22 pm Thursday, August 29, 2019


Contributing columnist

The Danville-Boyle County Parks and Recreation board of directors made a bold statement last week when it voted unanimously to oversee ALL of the parks within Boyle County, not just Millennium Park.

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According to The Advocate-Messenger, “the board said it would like to see an agreement between the city commission and fiscal court that provides ‘Parks & Rec services and facilities for all residents of the City of Danville and Boyle County in a fair, safe and economical manner.’ It also said programs should be provided in all areas of the city and county, ‘not limited to just Millennium Park.’”

Cue the complaints:

“He (Magistrate Phil Sammons) maintains ‘it’s always been done this way,’ and that ‘we agreed we’d stick to Millennium (Park) and not spend any money on these little parks.’”

“It’s always been done this way.”

The ultimate killer of new ideas and change.

“It’s always been done this way.”

Always? That’s a long time.

“We agreed we’d stick to Millennium Park and not spend any money on these little parks.”

The “little” parks are all inside the Danville city limits. I’ve pointed out a few times that Danville is in Boyle County but that fact seems lost on Mr. Sammons and some of the other magistrates.

Since Danville is in the county, I started doing some research to see how many citizens who live within the Danville city limits are represented by each of magistrates. With some help from the county clerk, here is what I discovered:

District One, represented by Tom Ellis, has no registered voters that live in Danville. He represents 3,581 registered voters who live exclusively in the county.

District Two, represented by Ronnie Short, represents 3,650 registered voters, with only three of those living in Danville.

Now it gets interesting.

Phil Sammons, who represents District Three, has 3,729 registered voters within his district, with 3,624 of those voters living within the city limits of Danville. This means he doesn’t want to fund parks that are in the city limits where the majority (97%) of his constituents live. The “little parks” within his district are Cowan Street Park, Butler Park, and Smith Park (formerly known as Batewood Park). He has three “little” parks in his district but does not want the county to fund any of them. Hmmm….

Jason Cullen represents District Four. In his district of 3,808 registered voters, 1,526 live within Danville city limits — about 40% of his constituents. There are two parks inside District Four: Henson Park and the Ky. 2168 trail.

District 5 and District 6, represented by Jamie Gay and John Caywood respectively, are completely within the city limits of Danville. Gay’s district has 3,357 registered voters and Caywood’s district yields 4,306 registered voters.

Magistrate Gay’s district houses Weisiger Park, Constitution Square, and the Lexington Avenue Park. Magistrate Caywood has the most parks locations, with Millennium, Jackson, Whites (a county-owned park), and Bunny Davis.

All of the above numbers and information are public record.

Here’s the point: These officials were elected to represent their districts and all of their constituents. With the exception of two magistrates, the rest represent citizens who live inside the city limits of Danville. And yet, Sammons absolutely does not want a penny of county money spent on these small parks. Cullen wants the county to stick to the approved budget, which is admirable but difficult if not impossible.

The City of Danville is in the county of Boyle. There is no way around that fact. Four of the six county magistrates represent constituents who live within the city of Danville. It’s time for the magistrates to understand this fact and stop with the anti-Danville rhetoric.

It’s time for the fiscal court to get its act together and represent the entirety of the county, not just the areas that exist outside the city limits of Danville.

The Parks & Rec Board gets it. When will the fiscal court?

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