Candidate forum for city commissioners is Monday, Oct. 20

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By The Staff

Four seats are up for grabs on the Cynthiana City Commission. Eight candidates are each looking to fill those positions.

To assist voters in the Nov. 4 election, The Cynthiana Democrat is hosting a candidate forum on Monday, Oct. 20, with the commission candidates.

Seven of the eight candidates have committed to participate in the 7 p.m. event, which will be held at the County Extension Office on New Lair Road.

Incumbent candidate Jimmy New will be unable to attend due to a family obligation.

Candidates Jack Keith, Cherity Christopher, Elizabeth Vaught, Mark Mattmiller, Price Mitchell, Amanda Moore and Scott Smith will be answering questions posed by Becky Barnes, Democrat editor, and Gary Brunker, former Cynthiana commissioner.

Charlie Garnett, financial center manager/vice president at Fifth-Third Bank, will serve as moderator and time keeper for the evening.

Keith is the only other incumbent seeking re-election. Both James Martin and Bill Doan withdrew from the commission race. Doan has since announced his candidacy for school board member in Division 3.

Smith filed the necessary papers to run as a write-in candidate. Only candidates who have filed with the county clerk as official write-ins will be counted on Nov. 4.

Voters are welcome and encouraged to attend. Questions will not be taken from the audience on the night of the forum.

Amanda Moore

211 Raintree Drive

Husband: Shayne Moore

Immediate family (children): Whitney B. Whitaker, Carter Moore

Education: Graduating May 2009 from the University of Kentucky with a BA in marketing and a minor in political science

Occupation: Surgical technologist

Cherity Christopher

203 Broadway

Husband: Wayne Christopher Jr.

Immediate family (children): Kacy Christopher and Brady Christopher

Education: Graduate of Harrison County High School

Occupation: Florist and full-time mom

Price Mitchell

102 N. Main Street

Wife: Angelia Mitchell

Immediate family (children): Price Mitchell III, Angela Mitchell, Diane Spencer, Lance Mitchell

Education: High school graduate, correspondence Chicago Bible College

Occupation: Retired from U.K. Now conference evangelist for 13th Episcopal District AME

Elizabeth J. Vaught

205 N. Miller St.

Husband: Gregory Vaught

Immediate family: William Jones, Rebecca Jones

Education: High school graduate, one year of LPN, two years environmental science

Occupation: Water treatment operator for Kentucky American Water, Lexington.

Mark Mattmiller

117 Grandview Drive

Wife: Linda Mattmiller

Immediate family (children): Scott and Thad Mattmiller, Scott and Terry Herrington, Beth Carr

Education: BA, MA and Education Rank I, University of Kentucky

Occupation: Teacher

Jack Keith

1035 Ky. 36 East

Wife: Donna Keith

Immediate family (children): Dr. John A. Keith, Lee Andrew Keith

Education: Bachelor of arts, master of arts, juris doctor

Occupation: attorney-at-law

James R. New*

139 Taylor Drive, Cynthiana

Wife: Mary E. New

Immediate family members: Katherine, Patrick and Thomas

Education: Harrison County High School Class of 1953, Georgetown College, 1957

Occupation: Retired Cynthiana Police Officer, U.S. marshall

Scott Smith (write-in)

191 Spruce Drive

Wife: Kary Mattox Smith

Immediate family (children): Wesley, Cynthia and Camryn

Education: High school graduate, some college

Occupation: Computer programmer for 3M


Amanda Moore

Previous work experience/political: Surgical tech for eight years

Military experience: No personal military experience, but husband served in the U.S. Marine Corps for four years.

Community affiliations: Co-chair for Harrison County Relay for Life

I am running for office because: I believe that Cynthiana has the potential to be a great city like it once was in years past, but there needs to be change in our leadership to help us realize all of our potential. There needs to be changes in our city’s direction and vision to help better align us with our goals.

I am the best candidate because: I can give a new perspective on ways to solve some of our city’s toughest problems like drugs, crime and our stagnant local economy. I will work hard for our citizens and take a bottom-up approach to governing. By going to city workers, business owners and our citizens to get their input on what they feel are the biggest issues that we face as a city and suggestions on how to begin to solve these issues, maybe we can start to make some progress.

Most pressing issue: I don’t believe there is just one issue that needs to be addressed. There are several areas that are in need of improvement. Drugs, crime and the local economy are all on top of the list. The best way to approach any of these issues is by getting our local government to consider what is in the best interest of our citizens and act accordingly. There must be teamwork and cooperation between every member of our commission and the community, or we are not going to see any changes, only the status quo. Positive change starts with good leadership, but it certainly does not stop there. Our citizens must also take action to help our community be successful.

Platform: If elected city commissioner, I will help our city redirect its resources so that we can start to see improvement. I intend to capitalize on what we have here to make our city a place where people and businesses want to come. I want to move us in a direction to be competitive with other surrounding communities while still holding on to what makes us unique.

Cherity Christopher

Previous work experience/political: Small business owner

Military service: n/a

I am running for office because: I was once told, if you complain, then do something about it. So, I decided that maybe I could make a difference. I think Cynthiana has the potential to be great. With a lot of patience, hard work and new ideas, I believe we can achieve anything.

I am the best candidate because: I don’t know if I’m the best. I feel like that is for the public to decide. If elected, I will definitely do everything possible to help accomplish all that we need to do in fixing our problems and to start to move Cynthiana in a new direction, forward.

Most pressing issue: We need to hire more police officers. We have laws to protect our residents and property, but we can’t expect two or three cops on each shift to enforce all of them. You can only be in one place at a time.

Platform: We need to clean up all of Cynthiana, not just Main Street, start enforcing all city ordinances, hire more police officers and find ways to occupy our youth. By working together instead of every man for himself, I believe only then will be have a town we can be proud of.

Price Mitchell

Previous work experience/political: Security for U.K., former pastor of St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church

Military service: None

Community affiliations: Member of Cynthiana-Harrison County Ministerial Association

I am running for office because: I was encouraged by friends to run for this office because of my values and concerns for the community as a whole. I’ve been in attendance at all City Hall meetings.

I am the best candidate because: I will be a full-time commissioner. I’ll always be available to listen to concerns of the people, and I will be their voice ... I’ll represent them fairly.

Most pressing issue: Cynthiana needs to have more opportunities created for its citizens, young and old. We have to provide incentives for industry to come to our town and stay here so our young workers won’t have to move away from home to seek employment and so the older workers will be able to work close to home and be able to retire here.

Platform: I will represent the concerns of the citizens fairly, encourage business growth, give city employees better salary and equipment they need, beautify the city, provide youth programs and recreational programs, assist elderly needs, promote tourism, repair the dam and build flood gates, and see that your tax dollars are spend wisely.

Elizabeth Vaught

Previous work/political experience: I hold an LPN nursing license and 4th Class water treatment license and have worked for KAWC for 20 years

Community affiliations: None

I am running because: I’d like to see our distribution system in better repair. Streets repaired, improved traffic flow, new businesses, recreational opportunities for our young people and strengthen our law enforcement and bring in new business to grow our economy.

I am the best candidate because: I have 20 years experience in water treatment. I believe with the support of the community our small town can grow into a place we can all be proud of.

Most pressing issue: Improving our infrastructure -- roads, sidewalks, distribution of water, leaks in both water and sewer lines; Also, restoration of existing properties to revitalize downtown, garbage pickup and recycling programs.

Platform: Recruit and hire people with the education and experience to run these departments. Support each department in its effort to improve, and find ways for more efficient and cost-effective ways to deliver public services. I also welcome the community organizations’ involvement in forming committees to help reach these goals. I will always be available to my department as well as the citizens of Cynthiana to provide any assistance or support they may need.

Mark Mattmiller

Previous work experience/political: Salesman, plant manager, area supervisor of marketing for Ashland Oil Inc.

Military service: U.S. Army Reserves, 1966-1973

Community affiliations: Many school and youth organizations and activities

I am running for office because: Every citizen in our democracy should serve his community at some time during his/her lifetime.

I am the best candidate because: I am organized, I work hard and I want to do well.

Most pressing issue: To learn as much as I can as quickly as I can.

Platform: If elected, I intend to listen to all of the residents of Cynthiana. I will strive to establish goals and a comprehensive plan for city improvement. I will work to improve communications with all of our citizens.

John M. “Jack” Keith

Previous work experience/political: College teacher 1968-1971, Maysville Community College, Maysville; attorney-at-law 1970-present; Commonwealth attorney for 26 years, Cynthiana  City commissioner for one term

Military service: n/a

Community affiliations: First United Methodist Church, Harrison Memorial Hospital board of directors, Cynthiana Lions Club, advocate for Maysville Community College, Licking Valley Branch

I am running for office because: I had serious concerns about the City of Cynthiana and realized there were a number of important needs that I felt needed to be addressed. At that time, I did not know whether they were being addressed in a manner I felt was appropriate. I decided that I would become involved in the local issues in an effort to try to upgrade this community.

One does not have to be a rocket scientist to see the problems that exist for Cynthiana. Identification of our problems in only a first step and, at that, a relatively easy step in comparison with actions necessary to solve the problems. Many of these problems are far more complex than at first viewing and I have the time, energy and desire to try to work out these issues.

I am the best candidate because: I have experience in city government. I approached this position as City Commissioner without any agenda other than to try to improve the quality of life for our citizens. I am willing to listen. I recognize that this is really a temporary job, although I cannot say it is a part-time job. I have found that it takes near daily, if not daily, involvement in the activities in the areas in which I have been involved including, but not limited to, utilities, water and waste water treatment.

I believe that this job requires that one be willing and able to devote sufficient time to accomplish the goals I believe are important--that is, improving city services and their delivery to the citizens of Cynthiana. I have the experience and ability to recognize those issues and to attempt to resolve those issues in the best way we can. I must admit that I have much to learn, but believe I have demonstrated the interest, concern, and ability to work with other members of our community. I have tried to make myself as aware as possible of the needs of our community, and I am willing to devote whatever time it takes to pursue the goals I believe necessary to solve the problem.

Most pressing issue: I don’t believe we have one pressing issue -- we have several. One of these is a lack of funds with which to make needed improvements and sustain the improvements already made. The municipalities in Kentucky have limited sources from which to obtain revenue. In the current economic climate, it is even more critical for us to make prudent use of our funds for salary enhancement to maintain and enhance, if possible, our current salaries and maintenance. We need grants and funds from outside sources. Securing additional funds to alleviate many of our needs is just part of what needs to be done.

Although it is evident that some members of our community have made efforts to improve their property, many property owners have failed to maintain their property as they should. Therefore, upgrading of code enforcement is critical. We need to restore the pride in our community, and improving the attractiveness of our community starts with city government. For this to be better, we must reinvigorate pride in our property -- public and private.

Platform: As commissioner, I will continue to make efforts to ensure a cleaner and healthier source of water for our community. We have made positive improvements but more needs to be done.

Cynthiana needs additional opportunities for our citizens, and our best alternative for growth would be employment opportunities.

I pledge to continue to be receptive to positive ideas in an effort to make our community a better place in which to live.

James New

Previous work/political experience: 29 years with the federal government, 10 years Cynthiana Police, two terms as Cynthiana City Commissioner

Military service: 26 years with U.S. Army Reserves

Community affiliations: Berry Lions Club, Elks, American Legion, Rotary Club, Marine League

I am running because: I care about the future of Cynthiana for this generation and future generations.

I am the best candidate because: having been employed by the city and serving two terms as commissioner I have experience and insight that someone inexperienced would not have.

Most pressing issue: Lack of money. We could do more repairs, streets, sidewalks, upgrade some of our public works equipment.

Platform: To continue to try to get the best job done at the least expense possible for the taxpayers. I think that my experience for the past two terms speaks for itself. We just finished switching over our sanitation services to a private firm. My intentions for the people of Cynthiana is for the best of their needs for the future.

*New will not be participating in the forum due to a family member having surgery the same day.

Scott Smith

Previous work experience/political: Chief financial officer for hotel management company serving 26 hotels, former constable

Military service: None

Community affiliations: Rotary Club, member of Indian Creek Baptist Church

I am running for office because: I want to see Cynthiana prosper. I am tired of seeing poor decisions being made that negatively effect our citizens as well as our service workers.

I am the best candidate because: I research. I am a team player. I don’t assume I am the only one with the right answer. I’m not in this for me only. I have a deep passion for the town and its future as well as to restore the quality of life for Cynthiana’s citizens.

Most pressing issue: Changing the culture without losing small-town values. We need to make decisions that are fair and best for everyone.

Platform: As commissioner, I intend to raise salaries for service workers, take advantage of grant money, reinstate the  home-fleet program, lease all new cruisers, begin rebuilding the streets and infrastructure of Cynthiana; get the people involved in their community that can make things happen.