Mayoral and commission candidates speak at forum; Peay absent

Natalie Hayden

While mayoral candidates Joe Denning and Bruce Wilkerson were discussing their concerns about Bowling Green at a forum Tuesday night, the third candidate for the job was noticeably absent.

Brandon Peay, a WKU sophomore and candidate for mayor, was in night class.

Peay also did not attend a mayoral forum that took place last Thursday.

Last night’s forum focused on concerns about Bowling Green’s growth and traffic issues during a forum

“Scottsville Road is a state-maintained highway, and with its growth will have to come some changes in our highway structure,” said Denning, who is currently mayor. “We need to look at what we can do to the roads going in that direction. But we don’t want to stop growth.”

Growth will benefit current residents of Bowling Green by bringing in more tax money, which may lower the taxes that citizens pay now, Denning said.

Denning and Wilkerson, a current city commissioner, both said they would not support any additional tax-funded programs in Bowling Green.

“When we have 8.7 percent unemployment, the worst thing I could do is raise taxes because that’s going to put an additional hindrance on the employer as well as the employee,” Wilkerson said.

Commissioner candidates also spoke about Bowling Green’s economy.

Candidate Robin Baldwin said her vision for Bowling Green is to be out of the recession.

“The vision for a city commissioner is to watch over your tax dollars,” Baldwin said. “It’s our responsibility to use your money wisely. First and foremost, the vision has to be to take care of your first responders. They’re crucial for communities.”

All commission candidates said they believe the police and fire departments to be the most important services the city government provides.

However, the next important thing is living within our means, said candidate Melinda Hill, a current city commissioner.

The commission election is a special one for Hill’s seat only. Hill and Baldwin are running against candidates Bill Goodwin, Mark Bradford, and Grant McCullum.

“Unless we keep a balanced budget and live within our means, we can’t provide other services,” Hill said. “After providing great public safety, then we can focus on other opportunities to help our neighborhoods.”

Another topic discussed was revisiting the smoking ban, which the City Commission voted approved in January. All but one commission candidate said that they would not revisit the ban. However, Goodwin thinks it would be a good idea.

“I want to readdress it and write it right,” Goodwin said. “We don’t know if the law is here, we don’t know if the law is there — it’s not actually written properly. It’s a great try but it’s after Lexington, Ky., not Bowling Green.”

Other major issues discussed were human rights and the revitalization of downtown Bowling Green.

The next forum will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Parks and Recreation office.