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West, Cassidy face off for Judge-Executive

From staff reports

Jessamine County will have two candidates to choose from for Judge-Executive Nov. 6, incumbent David West and newcomer Mike Cassidy.

West has been Jessamine County Judge-Executive since 2015. A Republican, he resides in Nicholasville and graduated from Jessamine County High School. He is a graduate of Mid-American College of Mortuary Science, holds an emergency medical technician license and continues to receive hours towards continuing education.

He has served as the funeral director and embalmer for Betts and West Funeral Home since 1979 in Jessamine County and currently serves as chairman of the board for the Kentucky Funeral Directors Association. West also serves as executive director for Bluegrass Area Development District, chairman of the Metropolitan Planning Organization and chairman of the Regional Development Advisory Committee.

He is a member of the board for the Jessamine County Health Department and Jessamine County Extension Office. He is a committee member for Work Ready Jessamine and a former member of the Nicholasville Planning Commission and Comprehensive Plan Committee as well as a former member of the Nicholasville Jessamine County Park and Recreation Board.

West’s civic involvement includes the Kentucky Counsel of Church Camps (Disciples of Christ), Jessamine County Schools’ volunteer, PTA President Brookside Elementary, PTA President Rosenwald-Dunbar Elementary, Chairman-Project Graduation, Committee member for Alternate Schedule Study Committee, former board member of Jessamine County Chamber of Commerce, president and coach for Jessamine County Youth Soccer League, coach for Jessamine County Youth Baseball League and coach for Jessamine County Youth Basketball League.

Cassidy is a Democrat who resides in Nicholasville. He has worked 17 years for the Jessamine County Fiscal Court and 18 years for the Jessamine County Fire District. He is the director of home incarceration and drug monitoring for the Jessamine County Detention Center.

Cassidy’s civic involvement includes volunteering with the Jessamine County Fire District, two years serving on the Jessamine County Fire District Board of Trustees, three years as a basketball coach for Jessamine County Parks and Recreation, Leadership Jessamine County Class of 2006, vice chairman for the Kentucky Solid Waste Coordinators Association for one year, vice president for the Kentucky Animal Care and Control for two years, president of the Kentucky Animal Care and Control Association for three years, Kentucky Horse Council Health and Welfare Committee for two years and chairman of the Kentucky Animal Care and Control Advisory for two years.

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

DW: I will continue to improve the efficiency of Jessamine County government to ensure tax dollars are used to provide the best services possible for the people of Jessamine County. Establish a fleet replacement protocol that ensures updated equipment in all departments. Launch a regional salary study to institute a schedule for employees to attract and retain quality persons for Jessamine County departments. Continue to strive for efficiencies in government while providing the best services for Jessamine County citizens. Build upon programs for our youth, expand our fairgrounds and increase our offerings to attract new businesses.

MC: That’s a tough question because I have several priorities. I want our county to focus on bringing jobs to Jessamine County, so our citizens don’t have to travel to surrounding communities to earn a living. I also feel revamping our parks and recreation program is a top priority which will assist in attracting business — lowering crime rates and establishing a good quality of life for our citizens. I also will make public safety a priority by reviewing and revising the budgets of our emergency services so they have the tools necessary to perform their duties.

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

DW: Experience. As you can see above, I have dedicated myself to the life of Jessamine County, not just since seeking office but for more than 40 years I have tried to be involved for the right reasons to build a better life for all. I hold some unique positions in the region and state that can benefit our county. My administration, it’s about team, has received more than $1 million of discretionary funds for projects in the last four years. The ability to work with and form relationships with people in positions able to offer assistance is key.

MC: My 18 years of hands-on experience in county government makes me the best candidate for judge-executive. During my career, I have led several different departments for the fiscal court which has given me not only the experience necessary to lead our county, but has created working relationships with nearly every department. I was born and raised in Jessamine County and my wife and I are raising our children here. We are invested in our community and want to make Jessamine County a better place to raise our families.

JJ: What professional/political accomplishments are you most proud of in your life?

DW: Serving the families of Jessamine County during a time of loss, celebrations of life and recovery have been most dear to me. Interacting with people has been a profound blessing. Being selected to serve as president of a statewide association such as the Kentucky Funeral Directors Association has been a tremendous experience. Assisting in managing more than $200 million in assets in the funeral directors trust fund has provided me with the background necessary to understand complicated financial matters. Of course, being elected in 2015 and serving as your Jessamine County Judge-Executive has been an honor.

MC: I am most proud of the more than $1 million grant funding I have been able to obtain for various projects throughout the years. The money from these grants have given our community the funds to help build a new animal shelter, provide community cleanups, resurface playgrounds, improve our recycling program, pick up litter off of our roadways and help citizens dispose of debris after flooding. Without these grants, our community would have had to pay for these programs with Jessamine County tax dollars or possibly not provide the services at all.

JJ: What is the biggest challenge our community faces?

DW: Without doubt the drug and addiction crises. There are no clear answers, we must continue to battle on all fronts — prevention as well as recovery. We formed a local drug task force, joined a lawsuit against drug companies and offer assistance for recovery. A new joint economic park will bring jobs. New jobs provide funds for improving our infrastructure, updating our buildings (look for courthouse renovations in spring 2019) and improving our services. Providing recreational opportunities for all ages is important as we continue to discuss with both Wilmore and Nicholasville how to better partner to make our community flourish.

MC: The biggest challenge our community faces is the opioid crisis. As a first responder, I see firsthand our community is losing the battle to this horrific drug. Nearly every Jessamine County family has been touched in one way or another by this epidemic. It has been proven jailing these individuals with no treatment is not helping our situation and we have got to start giving these individuals the tools they need to overcome the addiction.

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

DW: Anyone willing to participate in committees or boards are welcome to discuss their interests. There are regular nominations that come before the fiscal court and we strive to match the interest level with the position. All court meetings are open and citizens are welcome to make comments. Perhaps the most efficient method is to engage your magistrates and county judge to discuss options available to address concerns. I have an open-door policy and am glad to discuss any item with anyone.

MC: I plan to make the Jessamine County Fiscal Court more transparent. Fiscal Court meetings are held at 4 p.m., which is nearly impossible for the average citizen to attend. If elected, I plan to schedule the fiscal court meetings at a time citizens can attend and have the opportunity to watch their government work. I also plan to live-stream the meetings so citizens can watch the meetings from their home. I also plan to publish the agendas of the meetings so if there is a topic that interests a citizen, they could have an opportunity to attend.

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

DW: The industrial park is a big step. Attracting jobs will provide more payroll taxes. We will be in a good position to be aggressive in drawing new employers to Jessamine County. We also have to focus on the important agricultural industry as a vital factor in our economy. Grants and incentive money must continue to be pursued for projects such as road repair, recreation and equipment updates. Government must be continually examined to make sure it is efficient. We have continually asked questions about what areas we can improve in and consolidate.

MC: Instead of focusing on residential growth my administration would focus on industrial growth that would create jobs for our residents and create tax revenue from payroll taxes. I would also provide training to department heads for grant writing. There are funds available to assist with the operation of many of our county agencies, but our department heads need the training to be able to apply and administer these grants. Last, I would create an atmosphere with our county employees that encourages and rewards departments for being fiscally responsible with their budgets.

JJ: Do you have any additional comments?

DW: The recession that began in 2007 took a toll on Jessamine County finances. Reserves that had been built had to be utilized to provide necessary services. Taking office when resources were at a low point was challenging but the economic recovery is under way. Careful management skills were used to navigate a difficult first budget period. Jessamine County has begun its recovery. We are better positioned now to begin to update equipment, personnel policies and move to the forefront as one of Central Kentucky’s most progressive counties.

MC: I would like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement. I think Jessamine County is the best county in the state because of its people and their willingness to come together for their community. I want to build a community that puts its citizens first and not political agendas. Thank you for the opportunity to share my ideas and platform.