Terri at city commission

Neither the letter nor Bradshaw’s message to which it responded has been made public despite State Journal open records requests to the city and KCDC. (Austin Horn | The State Journal)

Frankfort Mayor Layne Wilkerson has some decisions to make.

In the past month and a half, two members of the Kentucky Capital Development Corporation (KCDC) board have resigned — Frankfort Independent Schools Superintendent Houston Barber and local attorney Zachary Horn. 

Wilkerson gets to decide who to nominate to fill those vacancies, pending approval from a majority of the city commission. 

City Attorney Laura Ross said this week that there is no specific time period in which Wilkerson needs to fill a vacancy. Wilkerson told The State Journal that he has been actively considering candidates to replace Barber and Horn.

“I have people in mind,” Wilkerson said. “I was already thinking about Dr. Barber’s replacement, so I was already considering names and talking to people then. I’ve been evaluating, but I don’t have a timeline.”

The mayor said that the appointments were a good opportunity to “revisit what our goals are.”

“KCDC is a valuable asset to the community and I want to make sure that it’s doing all it can,” Wilkerson said. “Now is the time, coming out of a pandemic and with new leadership in place — it’s as good as any to revisit what our goals are and what our vision is to make sure we’re all working in lockstep.”

Wilkerson said that he had a meeting scheduled with KCDC CEO/President Terri Bradshaw this week to discuss her organization, as well as a potential request by KCDC to regain some funding lost as a result of the city’s fiscal year budget.

Just last month, both the city and the county finalized major funding cuts to KCDC. A majority of both elected bodies supported the cuts — with the Fiscal Court being split 4-3 and nobody in the five-member city commission speaking against the city’s $30,000 cut — but city officials said that organizations that were cut could come to the city and ask for budget amendments after the fact.

The Fiscal Court's cuts were in part informed by a letter written by Jim Daniel and James Inman, allegedly on behalf of a group of “concerned citizens,” highly critical of Bradshaw. In response to the letter and the cuts, business leaders took out an ad in the State Journal defending KCDC's mission and the quality of Bradshaw's work.

Wilkerson said that he believes his appointments for both Horn and Barber’s vacancies will be “close together” in time. 

The ideal new member, Wilkerson said, would be “someone who recognizes Frankfort’s advantageous position in the world,” and is creative as well as competitive. Land use ideas are something that he would consider in an appointment, as well, given a need to repurpose vacant buildings and lots around the city.

Land use has been a prominent topic for KCDC, as it participated as a voice against the controversial decision to block rezoning of the Blanton Crutcher Farm on Duncan Road. 

“Whoever I appoint to the board, I hope they have a sense of urgency and competitiveness,” Wilkerson said. “We’re in a daily competition for residents, jobs, tourists, dollars and more... I think it’s an exciting time for Frankfort, and we have tremendous opportunities right now.”

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