Ransdell: New mayor could affect WKU

Joe Denning leaves Bowling Green City Hall for the first time as the Mayor Pro Tem of Bowling Green. Just one month ago, Denning was surprised by the news that he would hold the position after former Mayor Elaine Walker was chosen as the new secretary of state in Kentucky. “Bowling Green is our city, and I am ready to get to work,” Denning said.

Caitlin Carter

President Gary Ransdell said changes in the Bowling Green City Commission could potentially mean changes for WKU.

Elaine Walker attended her final Bowling Green City Commission meeting as mayor last week and was sworn in as Kentucky’s new secretary of state on Saturday.


Commissioner Joe Denning was sworn in as Bowling Green’s mayor pro tem on Saturday and will serve for 30 days while a new mayor is sought.

Ransdell said the pending decision of Bowling Green’s next mayor is one of great importance and could come with changes.

 “Whoever serves in that role could affect (WKU’s) relations with the city,” Ransdell said. “So I hope we have someone that understands the university.”

Ransdell said relations between WKU and Bowling Green were good when Walker was mayor.

He said that he and Walker would communicate several times in any given month, discussing matters of importance that would affect both the Bowling Green and WKU communities.

Ransdell said he knew he could always speak with Walker in confidence, especially when discussing sensitive matters.

“Elaine was always someone I could talk with and trust,” Ransdell said.

While Walker was mayor, Ransdell said he and Walker worked hand-in-hand together with the creation of the WKU Gateway to Downtown Bowling Green project.

“She was very instrumental in getting that legislation through,” Ransdell said.

With Walker now in Frankfort, Ransdell said her new position should positively affect WKU.

“It’s always good to have someone who knows us — understands us — as we’re engaged in a political environment in Frankfort,” Ransdell said. “Rarely would the secretary of state come into play in a matter that would be on our strategic agenda in Frankfort, but it’s always good to have friends in high places.”

Robbin Taylor, vice president for Public Affairs, said the secretary of state doesn’t necessarily play a direct role in postsecondary education.

But, like Ransdell, Taylor said it’s always beneficial to have someone from Bowling Green who is knowledgeable about WKU in such a prominent position.

“Any time we have someone from our community in a position of prominence in state government, it is good for Bowling Green and, therefore, good for WKU,” she said.

Taylor said she is assured that Walker will continue to work in the best interest of WKU.

“Mayor Walker has been great to work with on a number of initiatives where the city and university have partnered,” Taylor said. “And I expect she will continue to be helpful in any way she can in her new position.”

At the conclusion of her last city commission meeting as mayor, Walker said it had been a privilege to serve as mayor of the city of Bowling Green.

“I’ve always attempted to do what I thought was in the best interest of our citizens,” she said.