MOUNT WASHINGTON – With the general election a little more than a month away, the Mount Washington Fall Festival presented an opportunity for candidates in a couple of races to introduce themselves to an audience.
Candidates for Second District magistrate and Mount Washington City Council were given the opportunity to speak during forum, sponsored by The Pioneer News.
When Dan Kelty resigned as magistrate on Bullitt Fiscal Court to pursue a new line of work, Rick Clements was appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear to fill the term until the November general election.
The Bullitt County Democratic Party nominated Clements to run on the November ballot for the remaining two years of the term. The Republican Party nominated Robert Hunt to be its candidate on the ballot.
Clements said he and his wife were riding through Mount Washington 35 years ago and stopped to visit some friends. They found a home and have been in the community ever since.
While in the county, Clements said he has gotten involved in the community, primarily through his involvement with youth sports, including his role as co-director of the Mount Washington parks and recreation program, and as an umpire.
Over the past six months, Clements has served on fiscal court and it has been a learning experience. During that time, it has also had its challenging issues.
In serving, Clements said he brings several assets to the table. He is open-minded and has been involved in business, particularly the banking business, which gives him knowledge of setting and following budgets.
He also knows that when the community wants services, there will be a cost.
“I will do the best I can,” said Clements.
For Hunt, he has been in the community for the past 45 years and he has seen it grow.
He believes Bullitt County can be a leader in education, industry and providing a quality community in which to live.
Due to the county’s location and the transportation system, Hunt said he doesn’t see why the area can’t be a leader in job growth.
“Nothing should hold us back,” said Hunt.
He likes Bullitt County as it is a great place to raise a family. It is a place where people will always help one another.
However, Hunt said, the county can do better. He supports low taxes and spending the available money in the best way possible.
Hunt said he would be a full-time magistrate and he will listen to his constituents.
He pledged to work with the county judge and magistrates no matter their party affiliation.
Mount Washington City Council
Barry Armstrong is a long-time veteran of the council. Over that time, Armstrong said the city has done some good things and some not-so-good things.
But from each decision, Armstrong said it has been a learning experience.
With 35 years of work in the financial industry, Armstrong said he brings knowledge of budgets and how to work within the framework of a budget.
His goal has long been to alleviate some of the traffic congestion in Mount Washington.
Highway 44 and the intersection of US31E continues to be a nightmare. Armstrong said the city is working with KIDPA officials to see if anything might be done.
Re-routing some of the traffic through alternate roads remains an item of study.
Greg Gentry is another incumbent who is seeking re-election.
Seeking his third term, Gentry said looking to the future is a key for the city.
He is pleased with some of the work done by the city over the past few years but it must continue to look down the road.
Gentry, who is also in the finance field, believes the city is in good fiscal shape but there must be more growth in the future.
Some of his goals would include looking at a new recreational facility, including more ball fields. Gentry knows that Highway 44 is a headache and solutions are costly. He felt encouraged by interim improvements, such as the turn lanes on Highway 44.
Dennis Griffin said he is the voice of the people.
The two-term incumbent got to experience government life early as his father, Sid, was mayor and a long-time councilman.
“I will get an answer to your complaints,” said Griffin.
He supports the city employees, especially the police department.
He would continue to vote against raising taxes and his decisions would be based on what is best for the city.
His goals include luring more family restaurants to the city and trying to get more jobs in the city’s industrial park.
Greg Hilbert has enjoyed his time as leader of the Mount Washington Historical Society as he has witnessed a rebirth of the group and of the Lloyd House museum.
He is proud of the work done by the Main Street committee and leader Dale Salmons.
In running for office for the first time, Hilbert said the people need a real voice in government. There are needs for more services for the youth and the elderly of the community.
Hilbert, whose uncle, Ed, served as mayor and councilman, said he would like to look at an amphitheatre, youth activity center, civic center or the bike park.
“Your voice will be my voice,” promised Hilbert. “I will be your leader. We’re going to take this town somewhere.”
Incumbent Sandra Hockenbury said she has learned a lot during her first two years on the council.
She enjoys listening to the concerns and then trying to find a solution.
“People want their problems fixed,” said Hockenbury.
Her goal is to allow the city to continue to grow in a positive way.
She said quality of life issues are important. The city needs to continue to provide services – such as roads, trash, snow removal, streetlights and animal control – to the public.
Hockenbury is proud to serve the people and looks forward to serving for another two years.
Gary Lawson said he wants Mount Washington to be a better place to live for the youth.
He would support a bike park, which is currently being discussed.
Previously serving four years on the council, Lawson said he is eager to return once again.
During his time on the council, Lawson said he listened and voted the way people wanted him to. And he was proud to have helped get a guardrail installed outside a day care on Bardstown Road and a light warning motorists of an upcoming traffic signal on the bypass.
His goal over the next two years is to help improve the community.
Gary Meredith doesn’t have anything against anyone who is running for the six council seats. But he believes that having a new set of eyes on a situation can be helpful.
Meredith hopes he can bring his commitment to community service to the council.
“I want to give back,” said Meredith.
He knows that the mayor and council have to work as a team to get things accomplished.
He pledged to not make any rash decisions and that he would try to get back to his constituents within 24 hours with an answer.
Brent Wheeler served six years on the council and was pleased with the strides made, especially in the area of beautification.
With three children, Wheeler said a main goal would be to make sure Mount Washington is a place that they would want to stay and raise their families.
Wheeler wants to continue the progress made in the city and he said the leaders must have a vision for the future.
He added the city must support its business community.
Lloyd “Shot” Dooley, Gayle Troutman and Walt Thompson are also running for the council seats but were unable to attend the forum.