This is the second in a series of op-ed commentaries by Frankfort mayoral candidates. Bill May owns W.I. May Associates, specializing in public affairs consulting, meeting/event and conference planning, and training. He has served three terms as mayor and four terms as city commissioner.
In my nearly 20 years of service as a city commissioner and mayor, I have seen the issues that come before the city become more complex and multifaceted as Frankfort attempts to adapt to the increasing demands facing our community. Matters that were once easily handled within the confines of City Hall now require cooperation and partnership with county, state and federal governments and their leaders and the private sector. As our city continues to grow and develop it will require an established leader with experience well versed in these matters to continue building on those relationships and partnerships.
Job growth and economic development, public safety, women’s and children’s issues, helping our most vulnerable citizens, energy and the environment and quality of life are key areas of concern in addition to maintaining city services at their present level with limited resources.
The establishment of the Capital Community Economic and Industrial Development Authority in 1993 has brought industries and jobs to our community. The receipt of state and federal grants has revitalized the downtown area with unique shops, restaurants, and arts/entertainment venues. Streamlining the process for local businesses to receive licensing and permits as well as emphasizing the city’s use of local firms for city projects are an example of ways we have attempted to address job growth.
From day one, public safety has been of utmost concern to me. My persistence in pushing for equipment upgrades in weaponry, increase in manpower, and fire and rescue vehicles assures that our first responders will have the necessary resources to do the dangerous and demanding work of keeping our citizens safe. In 1993 I, along with other members of the commission, pushed for the establishment of a Domestic Violence Unit within the Frankfort Police Department. Our police, fire, emergency management and dispatch personnel went from working in woefully inadequate and dilapidated facilities to a state-of-the art public safety facility able to now address a major disaster should the need arise. One only has to look at the past few months of devastation brought by the most recent outbreak of tornadoes in our state to see the need for emergency preparedness and coordination of services to handle such an event. Along with several certifications in emergency management and the National Incident Management System, my experience in this area is a very important asset.
I have and will continue to fight for the city’s funding of the many social service agencies which address the needs of the most vulnerable citizens within our community. The Senior Citizen’s Center, ROSM, The Simon House, The Sunshine Center are just a few of the many agencies that provide valuable and much-needed services to the elderly, abused and those struggling to make ends meet.
As city commissioner, I worked to establish Frankfort’s first recycling program. Following that effort, the city then progressed to streamline the recycling program, making it easier for more citizens to participate. My concern for protecting Frankfort’s ridgelines led to the formation of the city’s first Tree Board, the establishment of a city arborist and the subsequent purchase of the Cove Spring area now serving as a major nature preserve with wetlands, wildlife and vegetation, walking trails, all within the city limits. I worked to pass a city ordinance to prevent future clear-cutting of trees along the ridge lines that surround our beautiful city. Meetings with state officials helped to secure funding for major drainage projects in the areas of West Frankfort and Holmes Street to prevent continual flooding, property damage and health and environmental damage to property owners and businesses.
Historic preservation, the leadership to make Fort Hill a reality, continuous support of and cooperation with agencies such as Downtown Frankfort, Chamber of Commerce, Frankfort/Franklin County Tourist and Convention Commission, the establishment of the Capital City Museum, all work toward making Frankfort, Kentucky’s capital, an attraction for visitors and tourists – which translates into a positive economic impact for local businesses. Improved parks and recreation facilities, new football and soccer fields and walking and bicycle trails have improved the quality of life in Frankfort.
In my past three terms as mayor, I worked to diversify all city boards and commissions by appointing more women, minorities and citizens with differing political views to better reflect the makeup of the community.
Let me be clear. None of the accomplishments mentioned above would have been possible without the cooperation and efforts of both past and present members of the City Commission, local and state officials and certainly the department heads and city employees who work day in and day out on the front lines making sure that all the services provided to our citizens are delivered in the most efficient and effective way possible. Due to these efforts, Frankfort has received national recognition and was named the second-best micropolitan city in the South, and number 17 nationally. Frankfort was also rated as one of America’s Dreamtowns and also as one of the best communities to retire in. These awards were based on tax structure, low crime rate, cultural activities and city services.
As I have said before, I want to continue working to make Frankfort one of the safest, most livable cities in America, where there is opportunity for all. We have come so far in the last few years in meeting these goals and I want to continue that progress by using my experience to keep moving Frankfort forward. Frankfort needs a leader with experience. And, someone who will listen to you before making important decisions. I have never forgotten that you elected me to serve you and I humbly ask for your vote on May 22.
Next week: Kyle Thompson.