Western faculty member re-elected to city commission

Dave Shinall

Western figured decisively in Tuesday’s local elections.

Voters re-elected one Western faculty member to the Bowling Green City Commission but denied three others seats on the four-member commission.

Government department head Saundra Ardrey directed campaign strategy for incumbent Dan Hall, top vote-getter in the city commission race.

Journalism professor Jim Highland served as election night commentator and his students provided broadcast coverage for local media.

Other students campaigned for county candidates.

All city commission incumbents won re-election, including public relations instructor Alan W. Palmer. Palmer finished second behind Hall. Because of four votes, Palmer lost the position of Mayor Pro-Tem.

“It makes me realize Dan Hall worked a lot harder than I did for the votes, and I’m very happy that Dan was the one to finish first,” Palmer said.

“People trust him,” Ardrey said, referring to Hall. “Dan doesn’t say very much. He’s very soft-spoken. He has quiet leadership.”

Hall claimed 5,646 of the 35,551 votes cast for the eight candidates. Palmer tallied 5,642.

Ardrey said the fact that Palmer and Hall were incumbents was an advantage for them. She said the same was true for Jim Bullington and Joe Denning, and for any incumbent.

“Close to 96 percent of incumbents almost always win,” Ardrey said.

The four victors beat out challengers Ken Kuehn, Mike May, Brian Nash and Brian Strow because voters are happy with the way commissioners are running city government, Ardrey said.

Strow, an economics professor at Western, agreed with Ardrey that voters are satisfied with current city commissioners.

“The incumbents ran the boards,” he said.

Strow finished sixth in the election with 3,694 votes.

“I’ve earned the rookie-of-the-year award,” Strow said. “I’m the highest vote-getter of any newcomer.”

May, a geology professor at Western, finished seventh with 2,846 votes. He plans to continue to fight the Kentucky Trimodal Transpark.

“You bet,” May said. “We’re going to continue on the issues.”

The Transpark, a proposed 4,000-acre industrial park and airport, was a major issue in this year’s election. Incumbents supported building it. Challengers opposed it.

Kuehn, also a geology professor, finished last with 2,741 votes. He might try a run for higher office in 2004.

“I may be thinking about mayor,” Kuehn said. “That’s coming up next.”

The College Republicans helped Mike Buchanon defeat Harold Brantley for county judge-executive and helped elect Warren County’s first African-American magistrate, Cedric Burnam.

College Democrats helped their party retain three seats on the fiscal court and win the races for sheriff, jailer and county clerk.

“Many of them worked countless hours,” said Shannon Morgan, chairman of the Warren County Democratic Party. “They played a very integral part in the success of our party.”

Reach Dave Shinall at [email protected]