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9 compete for Wilmore City Council

From staff reports

Wilmore residents will have nine candidates to choose from when they head to the polls on Nov. 6: Jim C. Brumfield, Kim Deyer, Jeff Baier, David Riel, Leonard Fitch, Andy Bathje, Wesley Metcalfe, Jerri Hemenover and Wade A. Mitchell.

Brumfield is a graduate from Western Kentucky University with a degree in accounting. His professional experience includes working for the CPA firm from 1982 to 1983, Kentucky Egg and Produce from 1983 to 1984 and Asbury Theological Seminary from 1984-present. He is currently employed as a controller at Asbury Theological Seminary. He has 28 year’s experience on the Wilmore City Council. His civic involvement includes treasurer of Wilmore United Methodist Church and being former board member of the Wilmore Community Service Center.

Deyer graduated from the Art Academy of Cincinnati and she works professional as an artist. She is currently employed at Wesley Village as the director of food services and as a water exercise instructor. She has served on the Wilmore City Council for nine terms. Her civic involvement includes YMCA Board of Directors, Nicholasville/Wilmore/Jessamine County Parks and Recreation Board, Wilmore Community Development Board and the Architectural Review Board for Jessamine County. In 2016-2017 she represented Wilmore on the Wilmore/Nicholasville/Jessamine County Joint Comprehensive Plan Update Committee. She is the editor of the Wilmore Newsletter, member of Wilmore’s Festival Committee and Wilmore City Councilmember.

Baier is a graduate from Asbury University with a degree in broadcast journalism. He currently works as the director of business development for Kentucky Underground Storage, Inc. He has served on the Wilmore City Council for the past 12 years. His civic involvement includes Kentuckiana Contingency Planners, Leadership Jessamine County, Jessamine County Wilmore Joint Planning Commission, Jessamine County Habitat for Humanity, Nicholasville Jessamine County Parks and Recreation, Police Advisory Board, Wilmore Roads and Sidewalks Committee and Wilmore Cemetery Planning Committee.

Riel has a doctorate from Morehead State University. His professional background includes work as a teacher, principal and superintendent. He currently works as a director of clinical experiences. His past political experience includes township trustee for several terms in Ohio and he is finishing his first term on the Wilmore City Council. His civic involvement includes president of a credit union, president of a mental health and recovery board, lay leader in the United Methodist Church, Big Brothers volunteer, Black Achievers volunteer, Special Olympics volunteer, zoning appeals board member, member of Kiwanis, member of Wilmore Gideons, chamber of commerce member and a business advisory council member.

Bathje has a masters in clinical psychology. His professional background includes leadership development, service ministry and outdoor education. His civic involvement includes the Direct a Volunteer Organization, being an alumni of the Jessamine County Leadership program, being a volunteer on local trail committees and being involved in a local church.

Metcalfee is a graduate from Asbury University with a degree in business administration and equine management. His professional background includes being a business owner of Spraymaster Inc, equine management at Asbury University and commercial and residential building and remodeling. He is currently employed as a contractor and is a small business owner. His civic involvement includes Regular attendance at Wilmore City Council meetings, appointment to the Wilmore Parking Ticket Appeals Hearing Board, volunteer for the Asbury Equine Program during parades and community events and student of politics, working to stay informed, attending debates, rallies and helps promoting campaigns.

Hemenover holds a masters in Christian ministries from Asbury University, as well as a bachelor of arts degree from Illinois State University and a music performance major from Illinois Wesley University. Her professional background includes work as a teacher at KORE Academy, education director at Lord’s Legacy Ministries. She is a Former downtown business owner and human resources director for Johnson & Johnson, Inc. Her civic involvement includes being involved in starting a recovery group in Wilmore. Volunteering regularly as a teacher for Lord’s Legacy Ministries. Serving as a literacy tutor at Nathaniel Mission. She has been elected vice president of Student Government at Asbury Seminary, involved in fundraisers for local Wilmore businesses, promoted local Wilmore artists in her business in Wilmore, participated as a vendor in Wilmore Fall and Christmas events, a treasurer of West Jessamine Track Program and member of the Boosters as well as volunteering in the youth ministry at her church where she also served as a small group leader.

Mitchell has a degree in psychology from University of Kentucky and a diploma from Lexington Academy of Barbering. His professional background includes 10 years corporate human resources, operations management, sales and service, five years public administration and eight years as a barber and entrepreneur. He currently works as the barber and proprietor at Wade’s Corner Barbershop in Wilmore. His civic involvement includes volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass, serving with Lexington/Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, working with multiple non-Profits on the Inmate-to-Work Program in Fayette County, serving with the Wilmore Business Association and volunteering at Wilmore Elementary including being a WatchDog Dad.

JJ: What will be your top priority of elected to office?

JCB: Fiscal management to preserve and improve the police, fire and parks departments. It is foundational to everything else we do in our community—making sure our water/sewer, law enforcement and utilities infrastructure is maintained. I also have a keen interest in continuing our street maintenance schedule and supporting businesses and commerce that fits our unique community.

KD: My top priorities are to continue to support the police, fire, public works, utilities and recreation departments. Listening and acting on community concerns is very important to me, too. By making myself available to the concerns of my constituents via phone calls, text message, email or social media together we can get the answers or results necessary for the inquiry.

JB: Budget takes priority. The budget is leadership’s tool to plan initiatives regarding community safety and essential services as well as festivals and events to support and protect our quality of life. It is the council’s responsibility to understand and manage current funding to ensure those initiatives are protected. Thanks to the leadership of downtown building and business owners as well as our anchor businesses on East Main Street, we have seen momentum to revitalize the district. They deserve and demand city support for the great work they have done in developing and shaping Wilmore into the charming place it is.

DR: To continue to work with all stakeholders to keep Wilmore in the top ten safest cities in Kentucky while improving the collaboration between the city, our growing business community, our two educational institutions and the community members. We need to manage the growth that is coming to our town while preserving our recognition by Reader’s Digest as the friendliest town in Kentucky. To accomplish that priority, I will continue to use my strong communication skills to listen to everyone and facilitate a problem solving process that benefits every stakeholder. 

AB: To steward the good and promote “more in Wilmore.” I want to protect and increase the good things about our community – neighborly atmosphere, natural outdoor spaces, excellent educational institutions, vibrant faith communities, flow of international visitors and family friendly activities. I would promote “mor”’ by advocating for greater pedestrian traffic with trail connectivity, lesson the burdens upon local businesses and increase the value of our town as a destination.

WM: My top priority is public safety, especially drug crime and school safety issues. Business development, tourism, and community are all dependent on strong police and fire working to ensure our safety.

JH: I want to bring awareness to the problem of addiction in our community and collaborate with local individuals and organizations both in Wilmore and Jessamine County committed to recovery. I am passionate about helping local business owners thrive both downtown and in the community. It is our job as a council to be a compassionate partner with our local businesses and provide them the support they need. We need to be leaders in the effort to bring our community around them, so they can succeed and experience growth. This involvement needs to be more than just talking about the issues.

WAM: I want to start a response to changes that are happening, even now, around Wilmore. Some may not have noticed, but now that 68 is renovated Wilmore is becoming an attractive bedroom community. Families are moving here because it’s not 45 minutes on a dangerous road to get to Lexington anymore. That’s just a fact. This means Wilmore can’t stay exactly as it’s always been anymore. But it also means great families with great jobs are moving here. So, we can either resist it, or make it work for us. We must act soon.

JJ: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

JCB: I think of the city council as a team where we all bring our own specific expertise together to make holistically sound decisions for the town. My specialty is obviously financial management, but also historical perspective—my tenure on the council gives me context into what has and has not worked before as we grow and develop the town, and that insight helps prevent us from preventing past mistakes and accelerate new decisions that benefit us. I am also very open-minded to change and out-of-the-box thinking, and actively seek out ideas and concerns from our citizens to inform decisions that benefit as great of a majority as possible.

KD: My experience, knowledge and caring for Wilmore.

JB: I’ve had the opportunity to serve and connect with business and community leaders during my professional and political career. Conversation and discussion with fellow leaders have allowed me to understand concerns and formulate opinions and solutions to address issues before us. I have no personal agenda in my process and base my decisions on fact and feedback not only from our leaders but also the community as well.

DR: For my entire professional career that spans over 40 years, I have been in leadership positions. I have been able to develop and then use my skills of communication, collaboration and problem solving to facilitate people creatively working together to improve the world around us. I don’t just talk about leadership skills and civic involvement, but I have a very long track record of engaging in leadership activities and getting involved in civic endeavors.

AB: In my 20 years of Wilmore residency, I have worked for both Asbury University and a local nonprofit. I have developed relationships within the Asbury institutions, within town government and with families who have lived in the county for generations. I have supervised hundreds of staff and volunteers, developed new programs, raised funds, managed land and facilities, overseen budgets and coordinated boards.

WM: As someone considerably younger than everyone else, I have a unique perspective to offer during discussions and provide a fresh voice on the council. Yet my relationships with local leaders, who have encouraged me to run, and my consistent attendance at council meetings provide a basis of sincerity. I’m a successful business owner in the construction industry. I think my experiences in the competitive business world would bring helpful insight in city governance and local business growth. Also, as an Asbury University graduate and former employee, I have a big picture appreciation for town and gown cooperation.

JH: I love Wilmore and am passionate about serving our community. I want to lend a compassionate voice on behalf of all our citizens and businesses. My experience as a former business owner on Main Street gives me a deeper understanding of the issues and struggles that come with having a small business in Wilmore. As a graduate of Asbury Seminary, I understand the need to bridge the gaps that exist between our educational institutions, Wilmore citizens and businesses. I am an advocate for addressing challenging issues such as addiction and poverty and have done work in both arenas.

WAM: Most important- I have the will and the energy to do what needs done. This is no vanity campaign. I am action-oriented, and I feel strongly about wanting to be that guy that helps Wilmore improve. Second – my experience in the business sector coupled with city government means that I understand how both sides work and why they work that way. I can facilitate cooperation in a way most candidates just can’t.

JJ: What professional/political accomplishments are you the proudest of?

JCB: Driving growth in Wilmore without sacrificing our unique town identity. I have been a part of many capital improvements to Wilmore such as Centennial Park, the Wesley Village Senior Citizens Center, the Wilmore water treatment plant improvement, the downtown green which host the Stonebridge and gospel summer concerts.

KD: One of the most treasured accomplishments as a community member and council member is seeing the growth of Wilmore’s Downtown Green. Over 20 years ago the land where the Downtown Green is located was before planning and zoning with a proposal for duplex housing, it passed. Many folks in my neighborhood were upset. Wilmore City Council denied the request. Land was then offered to the City for purchase. After the City did purchase the property, the land now houses our local doctor’s office and is home to summer concerts where thousands of community members and visitors have been entertained.

JB: I secured the services of Municipal Revenue Solutions to help collect

delinquent funds identify new business and ensure incoming dollars are properly distributed to our city from business license and net profit income. Not only were revenues identified and collected, MRS coached our City Hall staff in working through the process. This effort has increased our General Fund revenues by tens of thousands of dollars.

DR: Being elected two years ago to serve on the Wilmore City Council would be very near the top of my list. To become a part of the leadership team here where there is a long track record of people working together for the improvement of the community might be the most humbling experience I have had. I have loved helping people solve problems and being part of a team who 100 percent puts the good of the community first. These past two years are ones that I will forever cherish

AB: I have directed a nonprofit through multiple and significant transitions, such as moving operations to a new state (Kentucky), spearheading an organizational re-branding campaign and the purchase of a camp property in Wilmore. I also found it rewarding to participate in a committee that renovated the Asbury University Student Center building, working to retain the beauty of the original historic structure while repurposing the interior for maximum functionality – on a strict budget. I later managed this facility. I developed and launched a wilderness orientation program for Asbury students that has continued 20 years. I co-founded the Kentucky Challenge Course Forum.

WM: I’m proud to have graduated from Asbury University as a business management, equine management, dual-major while working full-time. I’m also proud of the success of Spraymasters Inc., and the incredible list of people and companies that we have had the privilege to work with. Some of my proudest were Rupp Arena, the Kentucky governor’s guesthouse, and the president’s home at the University of Kentucky.

JH: I created a comprehensive educational program at Lord’s Legacy Ministries, which serves intellectually disabled adult, working as a K-12 teacher at KORE Academy, a school that educates students with learning differences. Recovery is important in our community. I started a recovery group in Wilmore that supports families affected. I’m a former downtown business owner in Wilmore, which marketed my local landscape and portrait photography. As part of my business, I supported local artists by showcasing their artwork. I earned my master’s degree from Asbury Seminary in Christian Ministries and worked as a Human Resource Director for Johnson and Johnson, Inc.

WAM: Making the decision to work for myself was huge. I gave up a successful career of 15 years to do it. With help from many, especially my family thanks to you all, we worked hard, overcame obstacles, stuck to the vision and made gradual improvements. Now, Wade’s Corner Barbershop is a thriving business here in Wilmore since 2012. Also, after studying for over five years, last year I earned the privilege to teach tai chi to good people here in Wilmore. That’s a source of great pride and reward for me.

JJ: What is the biggest challenge our community faces?

JCB: The same one that every town seems to be facing right now—the opioid epidemic and substance use. It’s not just about curtailing the crime associated with drugs, though it is also about the welfare of our own citizens suffering from addiction. My hope is that by leveraging federal, state, and local grants and programs we can pull our families, friends, and neighbors out of these cycles of personal destruction and in turn bring redemption to our community as a whole.

JB: The biggest challenge the city faces is upgrading and maintaining existing

infrastructure. We know there are issues of flooding in some sparse areas, sidewalks in disrepair, aging water and sewer lines as well as road paving projects. We need to be intentional in our capital planning to fund infrastructure maintenance, replacement and upgrades. I’m interested in looking at innovative ways to find revenue streams that we can allocate dollars to those areas.

DR: Most importantly, we need to find better ways to communicate with each other. I want to be proactive in helping the Butler and Woodspointe areas to feel more connected with the city. I want to expand the ways that the city works together with Asbury University and the Seminary. I want to make it easy for people to not only know what is going on, but also be able to express their frustrations and/or get answers to their questions. As we grow this will become increasingly challenging.

AB: Changing while staying the same. The population of Jessamine County is growing faster than any adjacent county, even Fayette. Wilmore has become more accessible in recent years with improved roads. Our greatest challenge is to maintain the charm, values, neighborliness and low crime that makes Wilmore special while benefiting and adjusting to county population growth. While there are countless positive elements, there are also societal problems that need recognition in and nearby our community – rampant drug addiction, people facing poverty and individuals without adequate housing. I have been involved in addressing these issues and would like to see more collaboration.

WM: Residential taxes can’t be raised any more, but demand for city services are expanding which costs money. The biggest challenge is a lack of thriving businesses. We have a handful but need more to adequately serve our population and reduce money spent in Nicholasville and Lexington. Local businesses provide jobs, which often lowers crime, keeps our money here, builds community and tourism and produces new tax revenue. The new tax revenue would allow us to stay out of debt, provide better service and reduce the residential tax burden.

JH: The biggest challenge faced in Wilmore is the lack of support of our local business owners. Businesses in Wilmore continue to have a difficult time thriving. While there are new businesses that have opened, our leadership must find ways to promote them and encourage community support. There needs to be more dialog between our city council and our businesses. This includes having more opportunities for open discussion beyond council meetings. Inviting the community to do volunteer service work to give our aging buildings a facelift downtown is one example. As leaders we need to emphasize “shopping local” as a mindset.

WAM: Like it or not, Wilmore is at a crossroads. We need to determine what kind of community we want to be and take action to make it happen. Doing things “like we’ve always done it” won’t work anymore. Nowadays, I see problems outside my shop window that I never used to see here. It doesn’t have to be that way. The challenge will be accepting and embracing control of our own destiny in Wilmore. Let’s make Wilmore what we want it to be.

JJ: How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in our town?

JCB: As in the past, I take a personal interest in the issues all of our residents have. My office at Asbury and home in Talbott is always open for a visit, and I make myself accessible to everyone I can via the normal channels of email/phone/text/social media. Most of all, though, I always encourage citizens to take advantage of the opportunity to attend city council meetings and voice their ideas and concerns to us as a group.

KD: Community residents are welcome to attend Wilmore City Council meetings and Wilmore’s Community Development Committee meetings. To keep order, be heard and on the record please call Wilmore City Hall to request to be an Agenda. Ideas, suggestions and concerns are always welcome. Any and all council members are available for community input. To contact us please visit us online at Wilmore.org or contact Wilmore City Hall. The mayor and city council are tremendously accessible.

JB: We need to make sure citizens are aware of the access they already have. City council meetings are public meetings and can be attended every first and third Monday of each month at 6 p.m. You can bring your concerns and be heard publicly. Council meeting minutes are posted on our website with voting record included. Council e-mail addresses are listed on the site as well and allowing each council member to respond to any correspondence received. We will need to consider having a stronger social media presence for future communication avenues.

DR: In order to involve residents in the decision making process you need to know what they think. I will continue to be involved in community activities/organizations where people are gathered. I will be proactive about asking people how they feel about certain topics and will monitor local social media outlets to know what people have on their minds. I would love to see the newsletter started back up again and would love to see more people attend city council meetings. Broadcasting meetings on local cable might also be an option.

AB: I have always led by listening. As I have canvassed, I have been learning common complaints that I plan to explore addressing with other council members. There also may be more opportunity for town committees, such as the Wilmore Community Development Board to be active in finding solutions to our community’s problems. These committed civic volunteers have been instrumental in making vibrant improvements to places and events in Wilmore, and others may want to serve in similar committees and boards.

WM: I would like to expand on the good things that the city already does. While the city already hosts public council meetings at city hall, we could mobilize council meetings to different locations around town a few times a year reaching out to different areas. The city website and Facebook page are great communication tools, including publishing council agendas online. A smartphone app that works in tandem with the website would also be nice to have for sending notifications. Publishing and advertising the information is key, including contact information. Continual website improvement is necessary for accessibility and ease of use.

JH: I would like to see regular town hall meetings open to the community to give residents the opportunity to share their ideas and concerns. This would ensure that the ideas proposed at the town hall meetings would be addressed by the council. I want to improve communication between council members and residents. Having a social media platform that would allow residents to contact council members directly would open the communication. I would like to see greater steps to publicize our council meeting information to the community. Using different social media platforms to communicate meeting agenda, meeting dates and decision making.

WAM: I’ll have a go-to place via Facebook, Twitter, or a blog where citizens can go directly for real-time input and updates from me about what the council is doing. There are easy-to-use surveys out there for people to give their opinions about issues. I’ll post agenda items in advance with how I intend to vote and why. Citizens will be encouraged to give feedback and maybe change my mind right there on the site. After council meetings, I’ll post about what items passed/failed and report how I voted and why.

JJ: If elected, what three steps would you take to put our city in a firmer financial footing?

JCB: If you look at the numbers, our city is actually in a good financial position. To sustain that, we will need to continue to make decisions that do not hinder future generations with unnecessary debt commitments.

KD: Wilmore is financially sound considering the unique tax base. Wilmore has received good audits and has a balanced budget. The mayor, city council and city treasurer work very hard on the budget. Financial reports are given at most council meetings. The tax base in Wilmore has several large institutions who are tax exempt making Wilmore unique in that respect. We are very thrifty in our spending and take responsibility for the way that money is spent and the projects that need funding.

JB: Wilmore has had shining audits during the years I’ve served the city and well prior to that. That is largely due to the history of elected officials as well as city staff being prudent stewards of the city’s budget. With that being said, we need to continue to make sure existing businesses and institutions are supported. Provide a friendly and inviting environment for new business opportunities. Provide strong broadband connectivity for our residents and businesses that is tied to a clear economic development plan.

DR: Look for outside funding opportunities in the form of grants. Continue to support our local businesses as their success benefits us all. Support our city workers as they strive to keep everything that we have maintained well so that we get the maximum use out of it.

AB: First, I would do a careful study of the current budget and the process of decision-making. I would examine trends in the city’s income generation in previous years and ensure that all potential income is collected. I would seek new funding for city improvements. There is a significant amount of grant monies we are fortunate to have a community culture that richly benefits from institutions of higher learning and numerous local non-profits. These organizations regularly have initiatives and events that are open to everyone in the community. However, many are not aware of all that is happening.

WM: I would search for ways to reduce current costs, work to attract and incentivize local business development, and work to ensure future town and gown cooperation. If we can improve government efficiency, attract more businesses, and achieve a high level of cooperation with the current financial pillars we will be on much firmer financial footing.

JH: First, we need to identify what properties the city owns and move toward selling them. If they are purchased by business owners not only would the purchase itself provide revenue it could bring additional services and job opportunities to our residents. This could also have the effect of making Wilmore a more attractive destination city, which would financially benefit our businesses. Secondly, we have a responsibility as a council to ensure that our tax dollars are being allocated wisely. An independent auditor could look at our city budget to determine ways that we can make improvements, if they are needed.

WAM: First, vote no on the city purchase or acquisition of any more properties in town without a full plan for how the taxpayers will gain from it. We have acquired several such properties recently with little or nothing to show for them. Yet, we are told we cannot afford to fix our sidewalks. That seems backwards to me. Second, talk with other towns similar to Wilmore and think outside the box on new revenue streams. Third, promote Wilmore as a bedroom community to attract new citizens with families and good jobs. They will become taxpayers.

JJ: Are there any additional comments that you would like to add?

JCB: As a life-long resident of Wilmore, I know this is the best place in the world to grow up, get an education and maybe even have a career. Wilmore made me who I am today, and I am forever grateful for this village that raised me. Serving on the city council is the best opportunity for me to maintain the small-town charm of our city, making it the best possible place to live, work and play—and I hope to have my neighbors’ support in that cause.

KD: Many thanks to the Jessamine Journal for giving all the future elected officials the opportunity to voice our answers and concerns involving Wilmore.

DR: I love the city of Wilmore. I simply cannot imagine a better place to live. Being around the people of our town inspires me to work hard for them. It may not be a perfect place, but it is as near perfect as I have ever found. As we work together to make it even better, we will want to be careful that we preserve the qualities that make Wilmore the town we all care so much about.

AB: I love this town – it is both intimate and global at the same time. I would like to serve the community and the wonderful people who live here.

WM: Thank you for your time and consideration. If you want a new young face on the council, and honest, hard-working leadership I would greatly appreciate your vote on Nov. 6.

WAM: I love me some Wilmore- and I don’t want to fix what isn’t broken. But I know what I see first-hand. I see too few nice businesses down on Main Street making a go in an area that is otherwise stagnant, even decaying. And I see a community that seems out of ideas to fix that. It doesn’t have to be that way. Towns all over Kentucky have turned it around. Let’s talk to them and come up with a real plan that will work for Wilmore and keep it the great place we all love.