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Crowded fields in county's largest cities: Financial situation at top of Shep. issues

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2012 General Election

By Thomas Barr

      SHEPHERDSVILLE - When voters go to the polls on Nov. 6, they will have a full plate of candidates to select for the six seats on the Shepherdsville City Council.

     Six Democrats and six Republicans will be on the ballot. The top six votegetters overall will serve the next two-year terms starting in January.

Bernie Brown

     With over 20 years of experience in local government as both a councilman and as mayor, Brown feels his past knowledge could be a key to solving some current and future problems in Shepherdsville.

     In his first term on the Shepherdsville council, Brown said he is fully aware of the serious financial problems being experienced by the city. Those conditions required drastic measures but those decisions have led to a gradual improvement in the city's situation.

     In terms of the most important issues facing the council over the next two years, Brown said the financial situation remains at the top of the list.

     He pledges to stand firm on conservative budgets, watching all expenditures and holding city officials and personnel accountable.     

     Brown also wants to make sure the city remains cooperative with regulatory agencies at the state and federal level. The federal EPA has mandates in which the city is operating under at this time.

     He would also like to see the city begin some strategic planning. He said leaders who can think outside of the box would be needed.

     The Republican candidate said he is a person who can say "no" at times when spending requests are made.

Jose Cubero

     As a businessman, Jose Cubero has had many opportunities to sell and to service a product. He has been very successful in the business world.

     It is that experience that the Republican feels is needed to help the city of Shepherdsville move forward.

     Seeking his first elected office, Cubero said that he believes his ability to communicate and to work with others would be important in the city's future, as well as dealing with its current financial situation.

     The most important issue facing the city is tackling the debt. He believes there can be a system implemented to prevent this from happening in the future.

     He also believes there are opportunities in social and retail services for the people. Bringing in services and businesses to keep people in Shepherdsville is important and that involves marketing the city.

     Job creation is another key to success. He hopes to see businesses get more involved with the education system, especially through its vocational education program.

     Cubero feels he is a person who has the skills to be a leader. He points to his honesty and his ability to build a team of individuals who can tackle a problem. And then the resolutions must be communicated well with the community.

Robert Flaherty

     With 12 years of experience in county government, Robert Flaherty understands what the city of Shepherdsville needs to do to move forward. And he believes steps have been made during his brief tenure to deal with the overriding issue - the city's debt.

     After years of excessive spending and poor decisions, Shepherdsville finds itself in a debt of over $30 million in the sewer department alone.

     Flaherty believes the city leaders are going in the right direction as they made some tough decisions and are now watching expenditures much closer. In the end, however, it will be a commitment to some long-range planning which will be the key.

     Flaherty is working with mayor Scott Ellis and the Kentucky League of Cities about a possible partnership in developing a long-range plan for Shepherdsville. He is also encouraged and supports the work of a countywide strategic planning initiative.

     The Democrat said that his work in leadership roles, including chairman of the American Red Cross advisory board, his eight years as deputy county judge/executive, board member of the Chamber of Commerce and four years as assistant county attorney, puts him in a position to help Shepherdsville move forward in the next two years.

     To move forward, the city leaders must regain the trust it has with the citizens. Overcoming past decisions and concerns, Flaherty said the public needs to know that their issues and problems are important and the city leaders are willing to work together to find solutions.

Larry Hatfield

     When Larry Hatfield took office as mayor, the city coffers were pretty bare. As Hatfield runs for another term on the city council, those coffers are bare once again.

     In deciding to run for another term, the long-time city official knew one thing - someone had to stop the spending.

     "If we don't slow down, we're never going to be able to put money aside for an emergency," said Hatfield.

     His goals for the next couple of years deal with finances. He wants to get the spending under control and he wants to make sure employees are paid proper wages.

     Benefits must be examined and the current debt must continue to be paid off.

     The Democrat is looking forward to the completion of the interceptor project and then start to make sure the bond issue reserve account is funded, as required.

     Once some of these measures are done, Hatfield said then things such as looking at sewer rates might occur.

     He is in favor of abolishing the civil service system and looking at the options MSD might offer, if any is presented down the road.

     While he knows it would never happen, at least during his tenure, Hatfield said looking at creating just a single fire district for the county could be in the best interest of everyone.

     Hatfield said people know he will state his opinion and he has the experience which is valuable to city government.

Dana Bischoff James

     As a school teacher and founder of Cheer-Bling Sports Ministry, Dana Bischoff James is not afraid to make bold statements - and then back them up.

     Having done her homework and having talked with various members of government at various levels over the years, James feels she is very capable to making a difference as a Shepherdsville councilmember.

     James, a Republican, sees serving as a councilmember as a way of giving back to the community. She feels the community needs to focus on electing people who are able to make sensible decisions based on their life experiences and their positive goals for the future.

     One of her goals is to encourage job security for the fire and police personnel. A former Louisville Metro police recruit, James sees too many of the local emergency responders working too many hours and having little incentive to remain with the city.

     She said the council needs to help motivate and support those who risk their lives every day to protect the city.

     She is also against raising taxes while decreasing services. She is also an advocate of a balance budget.

     Another goal is to see the city promote healthy and steady growth. She sees the growth at Kart Kountry, which is owned and operated by her father-in-law's family, as one major success story. She believes city leaders must promote and encourage positive growth and more business opportunities, which will eventually provide more jobs for Shepherdsville citizens.

Clinton Kline

     A resident of the city the past four years, Clinton Kline is making his first run at public office.

     As an owner of a trucking company in Louisville, Kline would like to make the argument to his partners that the operation should move to Shepherdsville.

     But that might take some changes in Shepherdsville, according to the Republican candidate.

     Fiscal responsibility must be undertaken by the city's elected officials, said Kline.

     He said the officials can't continue to approve spending measures and then pass along the cost to the taxpayers.

     He said as a councilman he would look closely at every expenditure being made.

     Kline would also support any revisions and improvements to the county's land-use plan.

     He said that the plan is something which should be followed. Instead of relying on the good old boy system to get things done, Kline said specific KRS chapters must be followed.

Garland "Corky" Miller

     As a long-time football coach, Miller knows that every play can't result in a touchdown.

     He knows that sometimes players have to get into the trenches and battle to survive.

     As a member of the Shepherdsville City Council the past 18 months, Miller has seen how much hard work is needed, especially when coming into office facing a tremendous debt.

     "My answer for the city is not more taxes," said Miller, who is currently the ISAP instructor for Hebron Middle School. "It is spending intelligently."

     Miller said his goals for the next two years are to finish the south sewer project and to entice more businesses to locate within Shepherdsville. He would like to see a major retailer, such as Wal-Mart, and some more nice restaurants.

     Miller would like to help make Shepherdsville a better place to live.

     "It is all about making the citizens proud to be part of the city," said Miller.

     During his tenure on the council, the former mayor of Fox Chase believes it main purpose has been to work for the people.

     He said honesty and integrity are important. Also, there must be dedication to show the people that you are working on their concerns.

     "The citizens put you here to work for them," said Miller.

Faith Portman

     In her three terms on the Shepherdsville City Council, Faith Portman has seen herself as being the voice for the people.

     She intends to keep that trend going over the next two years.

     As a councilmember, Portman said her role is to listen to the people and then decide what is best to keep the city moving forward.

     She is against making the taxpayers pay for any misuse and abuse of tax dollars by elected officials.

     The most important issues in the race is to keep track of the tax dollars by looking at spending in every department; to work to lower sewer rates and to keep tax rates low; and to make sure there are enough police officers and firefighters on duty to keep the community safe.

     To be a leader, Portman said it is important to take responsibility and not make excuses. It means that you must work as a team with the mayor and other councilmembers to provide positive answers.

     And her primary role is to take the concerns of the public to city hall to seek out solutions.

Depp E. Rasner II

     Over the years, Rasner has been able to lead teams and has seen a common denominator on success ones - strong leadership.

     He believes that he can offer that leadership on a city council that is still struggling financially.

     The former Bullitt County Deputy Judge said that the $3 million debt must be addressed. He believes there should be spending on essentials and using the surplus to pay off the debt.

     Rasner, who owns his own photography and graphic design business, said that another goal is to look at planning and zoning. A more common sense approach is needed and the comprehensive land-use plan must be updated.

     He would also work on getting a strategic plan for the city's future. He would like to see a plan to deal with controlled growth and would work with the current efforts in Bullitt County to develop a strategic plan.

     As a good leader, Rasner believes he can set goals, listen to other ideas, take initiative, accept responsibility, use foresight and lead by example.

     "As a city councilmember, I will bring these characteristics as a means to help lead Shepherdsville to growth and prosperity," said Rasner. "I am interested in making Shepherdsville a better place for our seniors, our families, our children and our visitors."

Gloria Taft

     As a homemaker and small business owner, Gloria Taft understands the economy and how hard it is to survive.

     She also knows how important it is to set a budget and stick to it.

     The Republican is making her first run at public office this fall.

     "I will value their input and concerns," Taft said of the public. "The people are, or should be, in charge."

     A major concern is the city's debt. She said the city must stop overspending and find ways to increase the tax base.

     She is against raising taxes because that will ultimately drive away businesses.

     She also wants to work with the school system to raise the level of technology education so that students are better prepared for better jobs which could be lured to the community.

     In talking with the voters, Taft said that she is a Christian woman who will not be easily swayed from what she believes is best for the people of the city.

     She is also a person who leads by example, which means that she means what she says.

Sherman Tinnell

     Sherman Tinnell, who has served two terms as mayor, is seeking a place on the Shepherdsville City Council.

     "I think I still have a lot to offer," Tinnell said of his decision to run.

     Tinnell said a lot of people encouraged him to run.

     His goals include protecting the city's sewer department and the employees. He's not sure the MSD proposal will be good for the city. With control of the sewer plant, Tinnell said it puts Shepherdsville in a very good position to handle future growth.

     In running the sewer line to Highway 245, Tinnell said he knew it would open up vast amount of territory for future development. Plus, Jim Beam Distillery is paying the bond issue for that portion of the line.

     The Democrat wants the city to get back to beautification and its park expansion. He said a lot of businesses were committed to the First Street Park and that took nothing out of the city's general fund.

     He wants to finally get the ball fields ready so tournaments can be hosted, bringing in dollars to the community.

     He was also proud of the part-time workers he employed who helped to keep the city clean.

     Paying for both the police and fire departments is a question the next council would have to answer. He said both are excellent departments and they have a great facility.

     In looking at the budget, Tinnell said public works needs more employees.

     Understanding the city's debt situation, Tinnell said it was not something he simply created and left for his successor. Instead, he said some of the shortfalls were inherited by his administration and the sewer plant had to be improved as part of federal EPA mandates.

Robert Watkins

     The Democratic nominee said people of Shepherdsville are fed up and they can't take any more increases in fees and taxes.

     "They swallowed all they can swallow," said Watkins.

     He said the sewer rate increase was too much and that his goal would be to see if that could be lowered in the future.

     He would also hold the line on all spending unless it was absolutely necessary.

     Watkins said he felt the current revenue could be spent in better ways. Until the city gets better control on its spending, the debt can never be erased.

     He said all city services need to be evaluated on how money is spent. For example, he didn't understand why two large pieces of fire equipment needed to be at the scene of a fender bender.

     "We have to study all this," said Watkins.