Denning begins as Bowling Green mayor Feb. 15

Elizabeth Beilman

“I think the history of the city of Bowling Green has always been one to have a close relationship (with WKU),” Joe Denning said on Wednesday after he was appointed mayor of Bowling Green.

Denning, who was serving as mayor pro tem, was announced as mayor through November 2011 at a press conference at the Sloan Convention Center.

Denning will be serving in place of Elaine Walker, former mayor, who was appointed as secretary of state by Gov. Steve Beshear last Saturday.

President Gary Ransdell previously told the Herald that the next mayor could affect WKU’s relations with the city.

“So I hope we have someone that understands the university,” Ransdell said.

Denning insists he’s ready to fill that role.

He said at the conference that the city has always had a “working relationship” with the university and will continue to do so during his term.

Denning will be mayor starting Feb. 15 “for the remainder of the year, at least until November when a special election will occur,” said City Commissioner Brian ‘Slim’ Nash.

Nash said Denning’s appointment as mayor was determined by the city commission in a unanimous decision.

Commissioner Bruce Wilkerson said the process of finding someone to fill Denning’s recently vacated spot as a commissioner will start at the next city meeting.

“We want to make sure not to just pick somebody,” he said.

Denning said he would be running for a full term as mayor in the upcoming elections.

Wilkerson has also filed to run in November.

Denning said although they will be competing, there will be no ill feelings between the two.

“Bruce Wilkerson is my friend now, and Bruce Wilkerson will be my friend regardless of how things turn out,” he said.

Denning said the most pressing issue  he will tackle as mayor is job creation within the city.

He also stressed the importance of community with the residents of Bowling Green.

“This is our city,” Denning said. “This is not Joe Denning’s city.”