Meet the candidates: city and state races

Published 10:19 am Friday, May 13, 2022

The second part of the Sun’s series on the views of local candidates ahead of next Tuesday’s primary election voters features candidates for city office, state representative and one magistrate.The responses below are from candidates in city and state races that replied to the Sun’s email survey. In the interest of fairness and space, all candidates answers were kept to a minimum character limit. In addition, in response to reader feedback we have included the list of other candidates running but who did not chose to respond to our survey.

Clark County Magistrate

Dr. Mark Miller (4th District-Republican)

Tell us about your background?

After graduating from Chiropractic School, my wife Dianna and I relocated from Davenport, Iowa to Kentucky in 1986. We have two daughters, Lauren and Karah, and 4 Grand Dogs. I’ve Practiced Chiropractic in Winchester since 1988 My passion has been world missions for the past 30 years.

Why are you the best candidate for this office?

It’s not that I would describe myself as the better candidate, I just want to be a voice for my constituents. I can do that by keeping my constituents more informed on decisions that are being made and provide them with a way to express their views. I always desire to cultivate common ground, and try to understand opposing views. I am a man of conviction, but I am willing to change my view when provided with more factual information. I’m an organized, analytical and logistical thinker, and encourage cordial, rational debate.

What do you think is the most pressing issue affecting us in this election cycle?

The $7 million from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Let’s use it for:  1) Ensure broadband Internet to every household in Clark Co. 2) Install a sewer service on Rockwell Rd to replace the aging package plants in our trailer parks, diverting an environmental disaster. 3) Install sewer service on the eastern Bypass to stimulate business growth.

How would you address this issue in your elected office?

I would address this issue by first consulting with all the other magistrates for their viewpoints and suggestions. Then I would start the researching process for the best providers on each of these projects, ensuring the best products for the most reasonable price, and to be completed in a timely manner. Keeping these contracts local, would be my desire for the benefit of our community, but if we are unable to find the appropriate provider or unable to come to an agreement, I would not be opposed to outside sources.

State Rep. for 73rd District

Rory Houlihan (Democrat)

Tell us about your background.

I have worked at Lowe’s Winchester for 23 years.  I have been married to my wife Teri for 33 years. I majored in economics, political science, studied physics, chemistry, international law, constitutional law, the history of World War I, Europe and the Pacific. I have been the treasurer of ECDC and the Lowes Kids Captain.

Why are you the best candidate for this office?

23 years at Lowe’s has taught me key traits needed. Customer focused listening. I will listen to you and look forward to serving you as I have done for 23 years at Lowe’s. My moderate Christian values: being a humble servant, doubting my own infallibility, listening, weighing the pros and cons, team building and looking forward to working hard with others. My 23-year honed ability to find solutions and solve problems. My good nature and my ability to see the good in others. All needed for this position.

What do you think is the most pressing issue effecting us in this election cycle? (300 characters or less)*

Extremist liberal and conservative “my way or the highway” grid lock. Time to show them the highway and hire a moderate who will listen to you and work hard to solve the problems like the weather nows of fire, flood, and freak from climate change. The solution is not complicated. Solution simple

How would you address this issue in your elected office?

Find an issue, like building two hydroelectric dams in eastern Kentucky that many fellow legislators will want to work on. Use this issue to build a working rapport with as many fellow legislators as possible and create a team building issue and build a team. Do this over and over.

Other Democrats running for the seat: Tommy Adams.

Winchester Board of Commissioners (Non-Partisan)

Kenny Book

Tell us about your background.

I have 26 years experience on the Board of Commission. I was on several boards such as CCGIS, Public Works Committee, Winchester Clark County Parks Board, the Generation Center board, Strode Creek Conservancy board, Kentucky Waterways alliance.

Why are you the best candidate for this office?

I have 26 years experience and I know the budget.

What do you think is the most pressing issue effecting us in this election cycle?

The drainage issue all over town. Continue to bring jobs in, low income houses, finish Lincoln Street.

How would you address this issue in your elected office?

Put so much in the budget each year to fix the storm water issues. And work with Habitat for Humanity. Work with Work Camp every year and the churches to fix houses.

Shannon Cox

Tell us about your background.

I have been on the commission since 1999. I retired as a teacher from GRC. I serve on the board of Habitat for Humanity, Brooks Place, Central Ky FCA and the parks board. I am chair of the Salvation Army and Winchester Work Group, who use volunteers to work on local resident’s homes.

Why are you the best candidate for this office?

I am the best candidate because I have the knowledge, experience and still maintain the passion for the job.  The city budget requires a great deal of work. I do not have to learn the job, I know it.  I have an attention to detail and am not afraid to ask the tough questions. Every day, I strive to make Winchester the best it can be. I also love Winchester. I am a proud resident of Winchester and brag about our community continually. I also have the vision to ensure that our town is a better place next year, for the next generation and the generation after that.

What do you think is the most pressing issue effecting us in this election cycle?

We have many pressing issues. Economic development is a priority. Fostering not only industry but aiding local people who want to open a small business.  Public safety, having fully staffed fire/EMS and police departments and making sure they have the equipment and training to do their jobs.

How would you address this issue in your elected office?

We need to continually chase the businesses that we can bring to Winchester. We have to continue to make our community more attractive to people and have the infrastructure that make development here possible. We also need to provide the amenities that make Winchester a destination.

As for public safety, we need to actively recruit and provide training to first responders. We need to look at GRC and BCTC as a place for future applicants. I have even suggested pursuing those who have retired from other agencies. I also know we have issues with infrastructure, broadband, drugs and housing.

John F. Flynn

Tell us about your background.

I work at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown where I have been employed for over 26 years. My current position is team leader of HRD 3Pillar Promotional Group in the Power Train Department. GRC assistant football coach for 6 years.

Why are you the best candidate for this office?

I am a dedicated hard working individual that doesn’t accept it can be done or we can’t do that as an answer when working on an issue. The management tools and skills I use and teach daily at Toyota will drastically improve the functioning of the City Commission through leadership, problem solving, budget management and respect for all. I understand what companies and businesses are looking for in a community and know all too well the difficulties with manpower issues we currently face. I love Winchester and the people in it and I will always treat everyone with respect and kindness.

What do you think is the most pressing issue effecting us in this election cycle?

Lack of growth in Winchester is one of the biggest issues. We have had zero to negative growth in Winchester over the past 10 years. We need to be investing in our community to make Winchester a place people want to relocate their business, company or family to.

How would you address this issue in your elected office?

I will work to eliminate the red tape and reduce fees for start up companies. We have to be more inviting if we want businesses to move to Winchester. We run more people off than we get due to the hassle over getting permits and high start up utility fees. That has to change.

Roi Mayes

Tell us about your background.

I was born and raised in Winchester and spent time in the navy. I have spent 37 years as a truck driver and mechanic. I have always loved the small town feel of Winchester. I have a wife and four children–most of who have moved away. I want Winchester to be the kind of town I grew up in.

Why are you the best candidate for this office?

Because I have new ideals  on how to make our town better for our young people and our older people; how to get new restaurants here, not just fast food; how to clean up our town and show off things we are famous for: beer cheese, friendly people, college park, and all of the areas around us like Red River Gorge. I want this to be the great little town I know it can be and I will work hard to make it so!

What do you think is the most pressing issue effecting us in this election cycle?

Our town is looking tired and  run down. Our downtown is full of empty shops. Our bypass is underused. We need to keep our money here, not send it to other cities. We want to have good paying jobs here so we keep our young people here were their family and friends are

How would you address this issue in your elected office?

Put together panels of people to find restaurants, jobs , and ways to clean up our town. I love this place. We have all of the pieces to make this a blue ribbon city, all we have to do is make it happen.

Kitty Strode

Tell us about your background.

I grew up in Lexington and moved to Winchester in 1975. I have a daughter and three granddaughters that live in Florence SC. I’ve been involved in our community all my here. I sit on the Chamber Board, Bluegrass Heritage Museum, Vice Chair of Tourism, Chair the Daniel Boone Festival, Main Street Board, beautification, Beer Cheese and have been a City Commissioner for 5 terms. Have a love and passion for our community.

Why are you the best candidate for this office?

My commitment to these organizations give me an understanding and overall experience of what we have and need in Winchester. My years on the commission have been an education to how the city works and networking with other organizations to further our vision for a better town. Our downtown has been revitalized in recent years as new entrepreneurs are buying buildings, opening new businesses and living on the second floor. A huge plus for us! We are putting in new sidewalks, have completed depot street, working on code enforcement and other projects that improve quality of life for all citizens. Our downtown is the center of our community and companies always want to see what the pulse is — ours is alive and well and growing! I’m committed to making us better and constantly want to learn new ways to promote why Winchester is so special!

What do you think is the most pressing issue effecting us in this election cycle?

The drug problem is ongoing and a constant challenge for our city. We need to be more aware of ways to  work with agencies that help with addiction and recovery. We need a presence of police downtown as well as in our community to stop vandalism and burglaries. A safer atmosphere. We have storm water issues all over town that have to be addressed now with a plan to fix them in the coming years.

How would you address this issue in your elected office?

I will encourage and promote hiring more police to help make for a safer community. Working with code enforcement to stay on owners of dilapidated and vacant buildings which ncourages more people to invest in our area. Winchester is such a special town and one is the prettiest in Central Kentucky. Let’s work together to make it the most appealing for new buyers!

Paula Branham Thomas

Tell us about your background.

My name is Paula Branham Thomas and I have been married to Ricky Thomas for 42 years. I  have lived here most of my life. I have worked at Shearer School for 29 years. I am running for City Commissioner to make Winchester a better, safer and more affordable place to live for everyone!

Why are you the best candidate for this office?

I am the best candidate for City Commissioner because I believe in Winchester and all it can be. I would like to have good paying jobs, a variety of restaurants and an improvement in salaries for our city employees. Our police officers and firefighters put their lives on the line for us and we need to acknowledge them with pay raises but not raise our taxes. I think we can improve our budget and make Winchester a place where all people can afford to live. Everyone deserves a piece of the pie!

What do you think is the most pressing issue effecting us in this election cycle?

Better paying jobs and affordability to live in Winchester. The incumbents that are in office have bragged about being in office for 16 or more years and bringing 7000 jobs here. That is only 437 jobs a year. We can do better than that. I’m prepared to do the work to improve Winchester.

How would you address this in your elected office?

I will be dedicated to meeting and working with the county to accomplish our goals and checking what kind of industry that Winchester needs here. Also, I would like to see where WMU could take us in recycling.

Hannah Toole

Tell us about your background.

A George Rogers Clark graduate, with a bachelors degree from Queens University. I work in beverage sales and distribution. I’m also active locally having been appointed to the City Ethics Committee, a member of Winchester Young Professionals, Legacy Nights committee and the Chamber.

Why are you the best candidate for this office?

I feel the shift in our town, continued growth and progression is happening and I’m here for it! In the past years, we have had low growth projections for business, population and development growth. However, continued support of our current programming, growth in our economic industry authority, keeping our streets clean and safe can turn that projection around. If you’re tired of the same thing, give something new a try. Start from a clean slate. I am eager to learn, grow and mold our town with fresh ideas from behind a new set of eyes.

What do you think is the most pressing issue effecting us in this election cycle?

Time wise, wastewater from the Old Town branch, restructuring downtown infrastructure to limit flooding.

How would you address this issue in your elected office?

Teamwork. This will take a team of dedicated citizens, as it is quite an intricate project. However, it also affects many other areas of interest and issues for our town. If we invest in our downtown infrastructure, making it more safe and accessible will ideally result in more businesses able to operate in the Main Street area. Ideally, bringing in more opportunity for tourism, economic development, as well as lowering crime and drug usage on our streets. It is all a piece of the puzzle to make our town the place people continue to want to be.

Greg Yates

Tell us about your background.

I am a retired military officer after serving almost 25 years in the US Army and Kentucky Army National Guard. I currently serve as the Executive Director for Partners In Education. My family has lived in Winchester for 17 years.

Why are you the best candidate for this office?

My leadership, organizational management and long range planning skills make me an excellent candidate for this position. I am involved with a variety of education related committees and currently serve as the President of the Winchester Kiwanis Club. These connections will allow me to network with a variety of community members to get things done.

What do you think is the most pressing issue effecting us in this election cycle?

Lack of economic growth is hindering our ability to get new businesses into our community.

How would you address this in your elected office?

We have to find a way to expand and improve our infrastructure. This will in turn encourage developers to build more homes in our community. We need more starter homes for young families who are starting out. More rooftops will in turn bring more business.

Other candidates running for the seat: Robin Kunkel.