Prioritize Paducah

Priorities

Paducah After COVID-19

The pandemic placed an economic strain on all communities, and  since being elected in November of 2020, in the middle of it, I have  demonstrated disciplined, responsible leadership and as a result  the City of Paducah’s financial status is the strongest it has ever  been. We have hired a new City Manager and Director of Planning and we are searching to replace our retired Director of Engineering, seeking administrators who share a vision of responsiveness and  growth.  

No one really knew what COVID would bring but Paducah came  through that crisis stronger than ever. The pandemic made all of us  more mobile and gave many people the chance to reframe their  work lives. We saw the opportunity and incentivized remote workers, recruiting new residents to our community. Seeking to make  interacting with the city more convenient, we have completed the  installation of a new software program that allows a more efficient  means of accessing city resources and paying tax bills online. We  are focused on your customer experience when you interface with  the city. 

I have led through the challenges of COVID and the compressing  economy it threatened. We led the city through belt tightening and focusing on the really important things, and came out better when it  was over. Leadership mattered then and it still matters today. A vote  for George Bray is a vote for experienced responsible leadership. I  respectfully ask for your vote in the November election.

#OnePaducah

I believe strongly in the future of Paducah. I believe our best days are  before us and that belief is coming true! With increased interest and  the increased opportunity for involvement of the community in how  decisions are made, we are empowering the citizens of Paducah.  We have a common home and a common goal for our city, if you  have ideas to move us forward I am and will continue to be readily  accessible by email, cell phone, Facebook, Instagram, or Messenger to discuss it.

If you want to meet with me, I will make myself  available. This is an exciting time for all of us and a true leader  recognizes the strength in uniting our city’s residents. We will  continue to pull together as a community and together will move forward. During my first campaign I introduced and then implemented a vision for the path forward, ONE PADUCAH. My  vision is embedded in all aspects of my platform and challenges our  citizens to be more involved. Character and drive, not the color of  our skin, economic status, or background is the most important  factor. Whether it be volunteering to serve on a community board or  simply volunteering your time, I will continue to do everything in my  power to continue to enhance and promote that unity. We know it  won’t happen overnight, and my plan, “ONE PADUCAH,” will  continue to incorporate the following essential elements.

Open & Transparent Government

When I began as Mayor of Paducah, I immediately committed to  more Transparent Leadership. So, exactly what is Transparent  Leadership? It is the open communication with and broad stakeholder representation of YOU, the taxpayer. It is the  opportunity for you to see what goes on, even if we know you may  not like it. Government transparency provides objectivity to the  decision-making process that helps increase the community’s  awareness and full understanding of the reasons behind the  decisions being made. We will all never agree on everything, and I  am sure the average citizen sees things at times that they do not  agree with. However, officials are elected to lead and make  decisions in the best interest of all constituents. I urge Paducah  citizens to pay attention to the actions and statements of  government and its leaders in order to have a greater voice. I know  that people are empowered and engaged in decisions when they understand the WHY and HOW behind them. Even if we may not  totally agree my goal is to be open and to continue to empower the  citizens of Paducah. If we are to be truly be One Paducah, transparency must be the key to lead to an effective and vibrant  government.

    Leadership must: 

    • Communicate
    • Analyze
    • Evaluate
    • Decide
    • Communicate

      It is important to ask citizens for their insights, welcome their input,  and just as importantly, effectively listen to their recommendations.  When we analyze and evaluate information, it is critical that we  continue to communicate with those who elected us, of the  specifics we reviewed in that process. In the end, we may still  disagree, but you will have been heard, and you will know that we took into consideration your concerns and all the information available when making a decision. 

      I cannot promise to always agree with you as there will always be differences of opinions on matters related to government, and it requires strong leadership to review and move any project forward. I will always listen, and I have demonstrated the openness, and the  skill sets we need to unite our community around a common vision  to move Paducah forward – One Vision, One Paducah.

      So how have we provided Open and Transparent Government? 

      • I have maintained an open-door policy for our citizens and  have been accessible by phone, email, and social media. Citizens can speak at City Commission meetings without being  on the agenda.
      • We have made the city and our meetings more accessible by  moving commission meetings out of City Hall to various  venues around the city.  
      • Our communications office consistently sends out social  media posts and emails with city commission agenda followed  by the meeting minutes.  

      • Ordinances and policy changes are openly discussed by city  commission members prior to bringing them to the commission meeting for a vote. It ensures citizens are aware  of city actions that could potentially impact them.

      Economic Development

      Economic development is the lifeblood of our community, and while we have made progress we  need to continue to improve. Expanding good-paying jobs – driving job growth, good jobs that can  help provide an income to support a family, continues to be critical to our future. I am very focused  on maximizing the opportunity to drive job growth.  

      Doing so requires a great deal of collaboration which is why I work daily with the Greater Paducah  Economic Development (GPED), the Kentucky Economic Development Commissioner, the  Governor and the state of Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the McCracken County  Fiscal Court, the WKCTC Workforce Development team, surrounding cities, towns, and counties,  and anyone else willing to roll up their sleeves. As one example, it’s through cooperation and  collaboration that this diverse group was able to assist HHO Carbon Clean Systems in securing the  needed assistance to open their new facility and create jobs for Paducah and McCracken County.  

      It’s the same drive for collaboration that is leading this same group to step up our discussions with  the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management on the future reuse of the  Paducah gaseous diffusion site. I meet regularly with individuals seeking to start a new business or  grow an existing one and to achieve job growth I will continue to utilize a development  incentives strategically and when necessary. Beyond collaborating, as Mayor, I will continue to  individually do everything in my power to influence outcomes. 

      I will continue to work with GPED our local Chamber of Commerce and the private sector to assist  existing small and medium-sized businesses in expanding and retaining jobs through all means  possible, including both financial assistance, and personal support. Economic development is a  task that is never complete, and always in motion. I’m confident that the effort we’ve made so far,  along with the drive and effort we continue to exert will lead to more success in the future.

      Optimize Our Financial Resources

      The City of Paducah is faced each day with questions where the answers are critical to making good  financial decisions. Every day we have to ask, 

      • When is it best we hire a consultant? Who is the best? 
      • What projects should be prioritized? 
      • Do they align with Commission priorities? 
      • What is the true value of each project to the City? 
      • How do we finance our projects? 
      • Are there grants we can pursue? 

      … and a great deal more. 

      While our City’s revenues seem large at approximately $40M annually, we spend the majority of that  on Police and Fire protection, Engineering and Public Works, and our Parks department. That leaves  a smaller portion to be allocated for Economic Development and other projects and initiatives. As a consequence, we have to carefully look to each of these questions to prioritize projects and ensure  we are providing you the best value from our limited resources. 

      So how have we best optimized our Financial Resources over the past four years? 

      • By involving you, our citizens, in decisions. 

      • By prioritizing our needs over our wants. 
      • By highly valuing growth and development while balancing that with critical day to day  needs. 
      • By benchmarking our City with other cities in similar circumstances and of similar size.  By investing in the 300+ city employees who make a difference for our citizens each and  every day. 

      When I was first elected, I committed to you that I would be a good steward of the city’s resources.  That is a commitment that is as strong today as it was then.

        Improve Our Infrastructure

        Infrastructure is the word we use to describe Paducah’s essential facilities, services, and  community-owned structures. It is critical and directly impacts the safety and wellbeing of our  citizens every day. That’s why we focus and prioritize the infrastructure needs of our community in a  manner to provide you the greatest safety, value and quality of life. We listen to residents and we  are continuing to make progress on our primary needs. Of those, one critical project has been  completed, one is progressing to completion, and one continues to need our attention. 

        Infrastructure Needs and Priorities-

        • Airport Terminal 

        The new terminal has been completed and is now functional at Barkley Regional Airport. That  airport generates $55M in economic impact to our region and while we are all proud of the new  terminal more work needs to be done. It is a key factor in economic development for our region and  is a key to attract industry. In order to grow the airport however, we must continue to improve:  operations, the route options for our passengers, and a more seamless customer experience.  

        • 911 Service 

        911 is finally on track to be significantly upgraded at a cost of $10M plus. This joint city/county  project, overlooked since being identified as in need of critical upgrade in 2016, has direct impact  on your safety and will provide that our first responders will get where they need to be in a timely  manner.  

        • Storm Water Remediation 

        The City continues to need a long-term plan for Storm Water remediation. Through our efforts this  issue, which was not moving forward, finally received an injection of $4M to complete two long  overdue projects. There are additional major upgrades still required and while the idea for a  stormwater utility did not gain favor, it is an issue that I will bring to the forefront again in the future. 

        We have a stormwater plan, professionally developed and paid for with taxpayer money. We must  put ourselves on a path to fully enact it and make needed changes for the future. We must drive  collaboration among our business owners and residents and find the political will so that together,  we can move this project forward. 

        • Floodwall 

        The floodwall is a structure that the city maintains and spends over $1M on annually. This structure,  completed in the early 1940s, that most of us assume will always protect us from the Ohio River,  must be constantly monitored and is arguably our most important asset.  

        • Maintenance of City-Owned Buildings  

        Any city-owned building is a part of the city infrastructure and must be maintained and eventually  either upgraded, replaced, or razed. The renovation of City Hall was a good example, and there are  other examples where buildings must be routinely evaluated and plans made for upgrading or  replacement. In 2019 the city did a complete evaluation of all city buildings. This study led us to the  decision point of renovating the Cherry Civic Center and consolidating the Parks & Recreation  offices into the building along with upgrading the community meeting space that so many people  depend upon.  

        There are needed upgrades to current fire stations as well as long term consideration of both a new  fire station and new police station. Under my leadership the city is now investing in a long-term  capital asset fund that will allow us to replace large assets in the years to come.  

        Emphasize Our Transportation Assets

        Paducah is in an ideal location in relation to much of the population of the United States. We sit  well positioned on I-24 between St. Louis and Nashville, which drives much of our tourism and  cultural expansion. Our position at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers, as well as our  proximity to the Mississippi, has led to the development of a mature and still growing river industry.  P&L railroad, the Paducah railroad shops, and the triple rail site located adjacent to the Ohio River serve as both major employers and a significant economic development opportunity for logistics  using rail, river and road. Combined with commercial air service through the new state of the art  terminal at Barkley Regional Airport, Paducah is well positioned to meet the transportation needs of  industry. 

        Why is all this important? 

        Because transportation is one of the single largest drivers of the U.S. economy, and Paducah is  well-positioned. What have I done to make a difference? 

        • I work almost daily with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) District 1 to improve  the road structure in Paducah. As an example, Highway 45 (Lone Oak Road) which runs  through the intersection of Broadway at the refurbished Coke Plant and is set for a major  upgrade to relieve traffic. 
        • I helped lead the fundraising, plan development, and construction of the new Barkley  Regional Airport terminal and I continue to work to support the expansion of flights to hub  cities more convenient for our travelers. 
        • I work closely with the ever-important river industry to ensure that we support their growth.  We host the annual River Bell luncheon where the leaders of the river industry all convene in  Paducah each January. In addition, we recently hosted the prestigious waterways  symposium here in Paducah. This meeting, held in major riverport cities like New Orleans  and St. Louis, chose Paducah to bring all their industry leaders. That underlines the  importance of Paducah as a river city. 

        In short, I understand well the transportation assets we enjoy and will continue to lead the City in  promoting and taking advantage of these assets.

        The Projects I’m Committed To

        Paducah McCracken County Sports Complex 

        I am committed to the completion and successful operation of the new outdoor sports complex.  Scheduled to come on in late 2025 or early 2026, this project targeting sports tourism, will drive  more hotel stays and restaurant revenue. The new complex will allow our local athletes to play  sports on state-of-the-art facilities, and it will expose visitors to our amazing community further  promoting tourism and relocations.  

        Riverfront Development Project 

        In 2019 Paducah received a federally funded BUILD grant to improve our riverfront. This includes  building a state of the art dock for our growing riverboat cruise business and transforming the old  Executive Inn location into a river recreation area. This will promote even more events like Barbecue  on the River. The city is set to receive an additional $3.5M grant from the State of Kentucky and  Paducah will kick off the project in 2024.  

        Paducah’s Southside 

        One of the first projects I committed to was rejuvenating the Southside of Paducah. To accomplish  our goal, we have introduced both commercial and residential incentives. Our approach is to  revitalize both the neighborhoods and businesses that exist and create an environment where they  can thrive. We want to bring more shopping options for residents and build more traffic for  business. While I know this is a long term project we are committed to investing the time effort and  resources to rebuilding the southside neighborhoods, improving property values, and sparking new  development opportunities. 

        Further Development and Extension of the Greenway Trail 

        When businesses consider location in an area, quality of life attributes are a major requirement.  The Greenway Trail represents a key asset for anyone relocating here and for those of us living and  working here today. There is an opportunity to improve and extend the Paducah Greenway Trail outside of city limits and even connect it to other communities in Western Kentucky. We are  working with community partners and citizen groups to identify the cost, direction, and manner in which to accomplish our goals. Like so many City of Paducah projects, this one will require time,  commitment, and money in the form of grants and taxpayer funds. We will evaluate this opportunity  carefully and proceed after implementing a strong long term plan to accomplish our goals.  

        Preserving Cultural Assets 

        Paducah collaborated with the Rhodes Heritage Group to identify Paducah’s cultural assets that  should be preserved and invested in and two projects emerged as priorities. The COLUMBIA  THEATRE is one of the assets identified as one to be preserved. To ensure it remains viable, the City  has set aside funds for stabilization, but it will likely require the vision of a developer along with  broad community support to bring the project across the finish line. The HOTEL METROPOLITAN, an  historic black owned and operated hotel famous for hosting sports and entertainment figures  during the pre-integration era, is our other asset identified for preservation. It is a top tourism  destination for Paducah tourists and will require our investment. The City looks to more formalize  its relationship with the hotel and is working with the Hotel Metropolitan Executive Director and  Board to attract a major grant to jumpstart the restoration, upgrade the physical assets, and to  transition leadership to ensure ongoing preservation and programming.  

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