Crowded fields in county's largest cities: Continued growth part of MW discussions

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2012 General Election

By Alex Wimsatt

 MOUNT WASHINGTON - Mount Washington residents voting for city council will have plenty of candidates to choose from when they go to the polls on Nov. 6. 

The six incumbents, Barry Armstrong, Lloyd "Shot" Dooley, Greg Gentry, Dennis Griffin, Sandra Hockenbury and Gayle Troutman will square off with five other candidates to hold onto their seats on election day. 

Former Mount Washington councilmen Gary Lawson and Brent Wheeler will join political newcomers Gregory Hilbert, Gary Meredith and Walt Thompson on the ballot. 

The candidates' professional and civic experience vary, but one thing they all share is the desire to serve in public office. 

Barry Armstrong, 70, said voters should grant him another term because of his general knowledge and experience from serving nearly 40 years on the council. 

The veteran councilman, who is an internet inventory specialist with Bachman Auto Group in Louisville, pointed out that he's served with several mayors over the years and has grown accustomed to implementing budgets, overseeing and controlling expenses and managing and working with many employees. 

"Mt. Washington, over the years has been a very financially sound government operation and while I certainly cannot take all the credit for this, I do feel I have contributed to sound management and good financial decisions that has the city in very good financial condition," Armstrong said. 

"I have been privileged to work with many of Mt. Washington’s good mayors...I learned from all of the mayors and the way they each, in their own way, implemented what they thought was the best for our city."

In addition to serving several terms on the council, Armstrong spent four years representing Bullitt County on the Kentucky and Indiana Planning and Development Authority board.

As for the issues most important to him in the race, Armstrong said traffic congestion is at the top of his list, especially at the intersection of Highway 44 and Old Bardstown Road.  

"I have presented a plan for the city to build a road that will divert a lot of traffic away from this intersection and in addition relieve traffic on Hwy. 44, as you come east into town from Shepherdsville," Armstrong said. "This is something that I promise to continue to work for until something is done to relieve this traffic."

Armstrong said he wants to see continued progress with the city's Main Street program and revitalization efforts.  

"There is a lot more work being planned and it is something that will make every citizen proud of their city," Armstrong said, adding that another issue important to him is focusing on fiscal responsibility, keeping taxes under control and watching the city’s expenses.

Asked for his definition of leadership and how he would provide that if reelected, Armstrong said leadership is being able to recognize the value of people and making a positive difference in the lives of others.

"I think a person shows leadership skills when they can motivate and encourage people to excel and want to perform because they can recognize the common good that is advantageous for all," he said. 

"I think a leader shows leadership if they are skillful, competent and big enough to admit when they are wrong. A good leader shows leadership when he is not afraid to see others succeed. Leadership is shown when he remains accessible, approachable and accountable to others. Leadership is expressed when you show the ability to think beyond today."

Lloyd "Shot" Dooley, 76, has nearly half a century of public service under his belt and the long-time city councilman is hoping the voters will grant him another term when they go to the polls on election day. 

"I believe that having worked with the citizens of this county and this city, that I am an honest hard worker," he said. "I will work hard to do everything I can to make the city one that we can be proud of."

Before he was first elected to the council 10 years ago, Dooley held the title of Bullitt County Sheriff for 17 years, longer than any sheriff in the county's history. 

Dooley said the most important issue in the council race is improving traffic congestion in the city, adding it was important the council continue working with state legislators in seeking solutions. 

Secondly, Dooley said it was critical the city attract new businesses to the Mount Washington Business Park and around the city, especially sit-down restaurants. 

Dooley also said the city could focus more attention on parks and recreation. 

"I would like to see the city be able to build a park that would be big enough for walking paths, ball diamonds and a place for young children to practice and play football and soccer," he said. 

Dooley defined leadership as, "A process where a person can help and support others to accomplish a job."

"If I have the opportunity to be in a leadership position I will work with others and support them to get the job done," he said.

Greg Gentry, 42, said voters should support his reelection for his experience with budgets and finance. 

The veteran banker, who is the First Citizens Bank Mount Washington branch manager, touted his extensive background in the financial industry and his commitment to public service.

"I can provide a strategic plan for future goals and objectives," he said. "I have worked and lived in this community my entire life and I believe in giving back and making Mount Washington a better place to live for my children and yours as well."

The incumbent said first and foremost to him the most important issue in the council race is making Highway 44 safer.

"It will be hard to accomplish but we have already started the process with the turning lanes at Armstrong Lane," he said, explaining that funding has been appropriated from Frankfort to align Fisher and Armstrong Lanes and construct turning lanes and a permanent signal. 

Gentry said the second most important issue in the race is promoting business development in the city's industrial park and on the Mount Washington Bypass. 

"We need to work closely with other community leaders in the county to promote Mt Washington as place that businesses can thrive and grow," he said. "We have a great deal of opportunity here for businesses we just need to be talking to the right people."

Additionally, Gentry said he would like the city to find land for the use of a new city park with ball fields, soccer, and other sports.

"If we can do this it would eliminate some of the traffic issues along 44 at our current ball park which we have outgrown," he said.

Gentry said his definition of leadership is having the ability to guide the city in the right direction for the future. 

"I think I can do that because in my current job I am asked to guide and lead the bank in the right direction for profitability," he said. 

Dennis Griffin, 61, said the people of Mount Washington should put him back on the council because he's committed to doing what's best for the majority. 

"I will continue to keep an open mind and base my decision on what I think is best for the city and not for a selected few," Griffin said. 

Griffin also said people should vote for him because he voted against unnecessary tax increases in the four years he's been on the council. 

A retired police officer who currently works as a security guard at University of Louisville Hospital, Griffin also served one term on the Lebanon, Ky., City Council. 

If elected to a third term on the Mount Washington City Council, Griffin said he would continue to work with city officials to find alternative routes to ease traffic on Highway 44. 

Additionally, he said he would continue working with law enforcement and other agencies to ensure they have the proper tools needed to fight drug abuse. 

When it comes to abandoned and neglected properties that have fallen into disrepair, Griffin said city officials should continue issuing citations and enforcing the city's comprehensive property maintenance ordinance, regardless of the offender.

Griffin said the definition of leadership is understanding what your role is and being able to provide positive results.

"You provide leadership by listening to the issue at hand and after making your decision stand by your decision," he said. 

Gregory Hilbert, 44, has never served in public office, but the candidate for city council said voters should support him because he has the best message and he can back that message. 

His message: "To empower the citizens of Mount Washington by not only giving them a real voice in city government, but by garnering their input and participation." 

Hilbert, a tool and die maker by trade and president of the Mount Washington Historical Society, said he's a skilled mediator, adding that he excels at bringing people with different ideas together. 

"Different ideas and input bring the best debate, and the best way to reach a good decision and get things done," he said. 

"The Mount Washington Historical Society is a great example of this. When it became the members’ society, we took off and flew. I bring some wisdom and energy to the table along with a real love for Mount Washington that is hard to match."

Hilbert said he has been and will always be devoted to the community and it’s people. He said the citizens need someone to stand up for the little guy, and the little guy, he said, is the majority. 

"I feel I am an integral, missing piece of the city council. I look forward to serving this town for many years to come, in any capacity," Hilbert said. 

Asked what he felt were the three most important issues in the council race Hilbert thrice repeated, "The citizens’ will isn’t being reflected to the extent it should be."

"That says it all," he said. "People feel they have no voice in city government. I am not afraid to speak up for people and have proven to be an effective leader, at work, home, and various ways working in the community."

As for his definition of leadership, Hilbert said leadership starts with empowering the people. 

"Finding their individual talents, ideas, and dreams, and putting them to use, doing the things they are good at and enjoy, is essential to leadership," he said. "A good leader knows from whence comes his/her help, and that leader leads where the people want to go."

Sandra Hockenbury, 50, said voters should support her reelection because she listens to the citizens of the community. 

"After hearing what they have to say I vote accordingly," she said. 

An IT asset & configuration manager with Humana, Inc., Hockenbury is seeking her second term on the council and she hopes to build upon the strides made during her first term. 

Hockenbury said the most important issues candidates for council face in the general election deal with infrastructure, quality of life and economic development. 

First, Hockenbury said traffic is a major problem in the community, adding that she would continue to work closely with state officials to find solutions to deal with the congestion.

With regard to quality of life issues, Hockenbury said she would continue to work with city officials to ensure the city budget maintains adequate funding for services such as street lights, police protection, road maintenance and water and sewer services.

Lastly, Hockenbury emphasized that new industry and business is critical to the city's prosperity. 

"We need more jobs in our community for our residents, to encourage businesses to locate in our business park," she said.

Leadership, she said, is the ability to guide and influence people toward a common goal.

"I will use my leadership abilities to strive for and sustain a great city government," she said. 

Gary Lawson, 60, said voters should support him because he's lived in Mount Washington for 60 years. 

Lawson, who previously served four years on the council, said he's concerned about business growth in the city and the safety of Mount Washington residents. 

As a local businessman himself, the owner of Mass Tire and Automotive for 25 years, Lawson said it's important to attract new businesses to the city. 

Lawson said it's important to him that Highway 44 is improved before any new businesses are built along the road. 

The former councilman also said the city should do away with "spot annexation. 

And with regard to public safety the candidate said it's important to bring the Mount Washington Police Department "up to big city standards," adding that it's time the city hire a new detective for the force. 

With that Lawson said better leadership is needed in all departments so the city can move forward. 

Gary Meredith, 65, said that while he's never held public office, the people of Mount Washington should elect him to the council because he's "a true servant of the people." 

Meredith said he's been involved in public service most of his adult life, touting his military service as a U. S. Marine Corps platoon sergeant during the Vietnam War, for which he earned a purple heart.  

The retired CSX locomotive engineer is currently a member of Salt River Lodge in Mount Washington, the American Legion, the Mount Washington chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons and the Mount Washington Lions Club.

Meredith has also served as president of the Lions Club and the Bullitt Central High School booster club in addition to serving a stint on the Mount Washington Fire Protection District board  

Additionally he's volunteered with numerous local youth sports organizationsand teams over the years. 

With regard to youth sports and recreation, Meredith said one of the most important issues in the council race is focusing on the city's children. 

Meredith said the city should pay more attention to children and their needs, especially when it comes to recreation and drug prevention. 

Another issue Meredith noted was traffic, stating that he would work assertively with state and county officials to improve roads and congestion.

Lastly, Meredith said water and sewer rates needed to be addressed.

Meredith said after years of rate increases he would work to determine if water and sewer rates could be leveled off or even reduced to encourage growth in the community.

According to Meredith, the definition of leadership is having the ability to work with people for the betterment of the community.  

"I will be an active participant in this position, one who will be ready to act and accept responsibility for my actions," Meredith said.

Walter Thompson, 39, said voters should support him in the upcoming election because he's the kind of fiscal conservative the council needs. 

"The council decided several years ago to make this a non-partisan race," Thompson said. "I am your fiscally conservative candidate and I am not embarrassed to tell you that I have been a registered Republican since I was 18 years old."

With eight years of service to several social service agencies, including the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice, and 12 years experience with Bullitt County government, Thompson said he has the experience needed to make a real difference on the council.

Thompson, who is a full-time instructional assistant with Bullitt County Public Schools, said the three most important issues in the race for city council are police support, infrastructure and accountability. 

"We must provide all necessary training and supplies that our Police Force needs to function efficiently," Thomson said. 

Thompson said the city's crime rate has risen, adding that he sees a serious drug problem in Mount Washington. 

"As a recent victim of a home burglary, I am certain that we have not done enough to equip our police department to handle the issues that this city faces," he said.

With regard to infrastructure, Thompson said it's critical the city better maintain its roads, and its water and sewer lines "that continuously fail."

 "We must take care in returning a property owner's yard to as close to original condition as possible when a water line is repaired," Thompson. "We must take care of our city roads and our city residents. This includes demanding professional and courteous service from all city employees."

Thompson said city officials are obligated to residents, as their employees, and shoule be held accountable as such. 

"They should take into consideration what is best for all residents of the City in every situation presented to them," Thompson said. 

Thompson defined leadership as the ability to move the city forward, in an effective and accountable manner. 

 "It is the ability to understand that the demographics of this community have drastically changes in the last twenty years, and to adapt accordingly," he said. "It is the ability to demand what is right, facilitate the follow though, and in the end, be accountable."

Gayle Troutman, 74, who is seeking his second term on the council, said he feels his experience on the council and working with people in every aspect of life have prepared him well for another term.

A retired funeral director and embalmer, Troutman served as Bullitt County Coroner for nearly 30 years in addition to serving as Mount Washington Fire chief for two years. 

Troutman said he would like to have the opportunity to build on what's been accomplished the past two years he's been on the council. 

"I feel we have made good progress by working well together, and that we still have things to do, and I would like to be a part of that," he said. 

Troutman said re-routing traffic in the city, completing the city's downtown sidewalks project and improving the city's parks system are the three most important issues in the council race. 

"We are in the process of obtaining more recreation parks. There are many more things being accomplished that I would like to see finished," he said. 

Troutman defined leadership as being able to work with people to get things accomplished. 

"I feel like I've done that and I will continue to do so if reelected," he said. 

Brent Wheeler, 43, said the voters should put him back on the council because having previously served six years in city government he has a strong record of supporting business, providing services and working to keep taxes and fees low. 

A tool and die maker by trade, Wheeler said he's always been and will continue to be available to discuss issues that are important to the public. 

"As a lifelong Bullitt County resident raised in Mt Washington my number one priority will be to make decisions the will lead to this community being a place my children will want to raise their families," he said. 

His take on the three most important issues in the council race: "I feel the three most important issues in this race are the safety and well being of our citizens, the vision of where we are going as a community and the ability to be progressive as a city while being fiscally responsible."

In order to provide these things, Wheeler said the council must keep a close eye on matters concerning proposed budgets. 

He also said it was critical city officials work together with county and state officials to plan for, and meet the demands of an ever-growing Mount Washington.

"Last but not least, we need to work to secure any available grants that we can use to improve the quality of life not only today but for the future," Wheeler said. 

Wheeler said having the ability to work together in a group to achieve a common goal is the definition of leadership, adding that he's proven that he could voice his opinion on a subject while taking the opinions of others into consideration. 

"In the end as a leader you have to learn to compromise at times to reach a decision that is in the best interest of all involved."