Judge-executive and Danville mayor candidates answer questions at Rotary
Published 7:28 am Friday, October 28, 2022
Candidates for Danville mayor and judge-executive spoke at the Rotary Club last Friday about their goals if elected.
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Those in attendance were mayor candidate James JH Atkins, mayor candidate James Hunn, and judge executive candidate Trille Bottom. Judge executive candidate Howard Hunt was not at the gathering.
Bottom has been county clerk for 14 years, and worked in the sheriff’s office for 19 years. She has served in numerous other leadership positions throughout the years. She said one of her goals is to help the citizens and unify government efforts.
“Dedication is just something that comes naturally to me because I’m always about helping my fellow person,” Bottom said. “As a team we can put Boyle County back into the hands of the people and return your courthouse back to you where it rightfully belongs.”
Atkins has been a classroom teacher, principal, director of elementary schools, college professor and administrator, and is a veteran. He said his experience in teaching youth will inform decisions for the future and guide the community.
“I will continue to guide not only the youth but I will guide and direct all of the citizens of all ages because the people’s mayor will have an open door policy, I call them listening sessions,” Atkins said. “One of my main objectives is that line of communication from city hall out to the citizens and from the citizens back to city hall should always be available.”
Hunn served in the U.S. Air Force for 27 years, and currently directs re-entry programs for inmates at the Boyle County Detention Center. Some of his goals would be to lower taxes, improve the condition of existing neighborhoods, and be a servant leader. He would focus on what the government can do for its citizens, and work together with the county to be a more unified voice.
“That requires us all to come together and work together, because the mayor can’t do it by himself, the county judge can’t do it by himself … I truly believe that if we’re going to continue with bold leadership and be the City of Firsts, it requires us to come together and work together,” Hunn said.
In response to the question of reaching goals for downtown development, Atkins said he is committed to seeing projects come through.
“The master plan was developed with lots of implementation from the citizens of this town,” Atkins said. “Those things have to be driven by the citizens; you can’t expect the city government or county government to implement all the things in that master plan … There’s a lot of neat things in that plan that we just need a lot of assistance from citizens to make it happen.”
Hunn said he hears from citizens that downtown should not be the only focus of development.
“I don’t know how many numerous times I’ve heard citizens say, ‘Mr. Hunn, they invest so much money downtown but I don’t even have a sidewalk in my neighborhood,’” Hunn explained. “I believe in the revitalization of downtown, I think that’s a positive thing for our community … but how much more can we reinvest in some of our other neighborhoods?”
Bottom said she has not seen Danville’s master plan, but is committed to making things better in the downtown area. She said the courthouse needs more parking.
“The way that the parking is now is not conducive to the public, there are only a few parking spots if you turn in the main entrance, and then there’s overflow,” Bottom said. “I would love to have a conversation about a parking garage that would benefit courthouse employees, the public that’s coming in to do courthouse business, and even business owners that are in that vicinity.”
In response to the question of whether they would support eventually merging the city and county, Bottom and Hunn said they would not. Hunn said he would also keep the school districts separate. Atkins said he would take leadership from the citizens, and said he doesn’t think there’s a move right now from citizens to make a joint government.
Another question asked about Planning and Zoning, how the city and county might grow in the near future, and how to address housing issues.
“I think growth has to be generated by public and private investments in our town,” Atkins said.
He said growth might come through smaller, 50-employee companies, maybe high tech types of things that don’t necessarily take up much space, new electric car or battery manufacturers that are coming to Kentucky, and businesses connected to that.
Atkins said affordable housing means something different for everyone, and they have housing shortages at all economic levels.
“Whether you’re on the low, middle or upper end of the socioeconomic status in our community, it’s still hard to find a place to live if you want to buy,” Atkins said.
Hunn said there are a few new housing developments happening in the city which will be considered affordable housing, as the city commission recently voted on the St. James Place development. However, he said they need more affordable housing.
“What can we do to really help these builders to really come back into our community and build these homes,” Hunn said. “We have to have those jobs where people can afford those homes, so what type of incentives are we giving for manufacturers and investors to come and create some of those jobs?”
Bottom said she doesn’t see much growth happening right now out in the county in the more rural parts. She said they need affordable housing everywhere in the county.
“When you talk about affordable housing, you have to think about all the concepts that go into making housing affordable, so you have land price, cost of materials … then it boils down to what’s affordable to you. What’s affordable in Perryville may not necessarily be affordable in Junction or Danville,” Bottom said. “Then you have to consider employers and what benefits or services they can provide to their employees to help them be able to afford a home.”