By Portia Williams
FLATWOODS, Ky. — In the race for the Flatwoods, Ky., mayor’s seat, the four candidates met for a public debate in the Municipal Building Tuesday night. The successor will replace Bobby Crager, who has served as the mayor of Flatwoods for 25 years. From the May 20, primary election, the two candidates that receive the most votes, will debate in the November general election.
For 90 minutes, candidates Jerald Hicks, Doug Spillman, and city councilmen Joe Gray and Ron Fields, were asked a series of questions on topics consisting of economic development, the importance of transparency, and overall ways to improve the city of Flatwoods.
The initial question was about their priorities if elected as mayor. Youth programming was at the top of the list for Hicks, as well as finding ways to expand the county water supply. Gray said his first point of business would be to upgrade city communications.
“The first thing I think we need to do is upgrade the city’s communication system within the offices. We need to look at upgrading our infrastructure. We need to look at getting new water meters, ones that are more accurate than the older ones that we have. Over the next four years, we need to grow the city, we need to invest in the city, and look at trying to increase the population,” Gray said.
Health safety and preparedness for emergency were among Spillman’s priorities if elected as mayor.
“Health and safety needs to be number one in any organization. One of the things that we need to do is have a plan, if we don’t, and we need to enlist some of our churches,” Spillman said. He also said the installation of sirens for severe weather conditions would be a priority.
As did Spillman, Fields said improving the communication would top his list.
“I’d like to upgrade also the computer and IT systems for better communications, operations in the city,” Fields said. He also said like to see new meters, and programs for senior citizens and youth in the city.
The last question of the debate was about the candidates thoughts on eminent domain, which was first asked by Hicks, who failed to comment on the issue, due to his own self-proclaimed lack of knowledge of what eminent domain is.
Regarding eminent domain, Gray said it is something that can be under used, or overly used.
“I understand eminent domain to be taking someone’s property for public use. I tell you what, if somebody comes here to Flatwoods, and wants to take somebody’s property, they better have a pretty good excuse, or reason to do it,” Spillman said.
Fields stance on eminent domain resonated with Spillman’s, that it be implemented only when necessary.
“I don’t think we need to be taking anybody’s property, whether it be the county, state, city of Flatwoods, unless its a have-to case,” Fields said.
After the conclusion of the debate, the four candidates remained to entertain questions from those in attendance.
Portia Williams can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 286, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.