Three things to watch in 2020 …
City commission makeover
Mayor Bill May’s decision to end three decades of continuous service on the Frankfort City Commission signals what could be the most significant change in the city’s elected leadership in half a century.
Expect one, maybe two, incumbent commissioners to join May in hanging it up at the end of this term. Throw in a reelection defeat for one of the incumbents, a mayoral bid by another and Frankfort could see all five of its elected positions change hands. At least four seems likely.
May’s announcement will trigger one or two more mayoral candidacies by people who’d been sitting on the fence, awaiting the incumbent’s decision. Also look for a flurry of city commission qualifiers before the Jan. 10 deadline.
Word from city auditors that Frankfort needs to spend down a surplus in reserve funds will bring renewed attention to major capital needs in the community.
The few million that city leaders need to spend to get the reserve funds to recommended levels won’t fund everything, so interest groups will be jockeying for position at the till. The Franklin County Humane Society already is well organized in its push for a new animal shelter. Newer but no less energetic is the citizen group pushing for significant upgrades of athletic fields at Capitol View Park. The need for a new City Hall is always lurking and might gain some funding momentum in 2020.
Interesting is the lack of a citizen push for a new events venue. Those who predicted that the loss of the Frankfort Convention Center would be the death of downtown might want to speak up now while some funds are being doled.
The return of a Democratic governor in a Democratic town might open some lines of communication that went silent during the term of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.
Frankfort, as the seat of state government, has much to gain, or much to lose, from its relationship with the state, especially the executive branch, whose administrative decisions can have a major impact on the local economy.
Gov. Andy Beshear’s decision to make the Governor’s Mansion his full-time residence is encouraging and might signal a return to the mutually beneficial relationship that Frankfort long enjoyed with its anchor employer.
Steve Stewart is publisher of The State Journal. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.