Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 30, 2012

Three vying for Gate City mayor

Carrie Stambaugh
The Independent

CATLETTSBURG — Three candidates are squaring off in a special election to be Catlettsburg’s mayor on Election Day. They include former mayor Pauline Hunt, whose resignation triggered the election, Randall Peterman, whose been serving as mayor for the last year, and a former councilman William “Billy” Cornette.

The winner will finish the remaining two years in the term. Catlettsburg elects its mayor every four years.

Hunt, who left just nine months into her first full term as mayor, was first elected mayor in 2008 during a special election to replace a mayor. She was elected to a full term in 2010, but vacated the post in 2011. She now wants her job back.

Hunt denied she had quit the job because of disagreements with council members, saying “I resigned over a sickness in my family. That relative has recovered and no longer needs my attention.”

However, her resignation letter cited “verbal abuse” from two council members as her reason for resignation. She also told an Independent reporter “five members of council constantly criticized my performance as mayor.”

If re-elected, Hunt said she believes she can “absolutely” work with the same council, which includes five of the same members it did when Hunt resigned.

 She said Tuesday she is seeking re-election because “there were goals that I hadn’t completed that I would like to.” Hunt cited creating a tennis court on 11th Street, providing more activities for youth, including a potential youth center, and developing the riverfront as her additional goals.

In her opinion, Catlettsburg’s population loss is a pressing issue that can be addressed through economic development.

“I've got the experience to understand the finances of city government and I fought to eliminate the city sticker tax and I will carry the fight to see that the property and sewer taxes are not increased. Working men and women need help in these troubled times,” she said.  

Peterman is a longtime councilman who was appointed mayor after Hunt’s resignation. He said he’s running for mayor in order to continue the momentum the city has picked up in the last year under his leadership, and that of the entire council, which has been working together well, he said.

“We have had several good council meetings and it’s been real great. I’d like to see Catlettsburg move forward,” said Peterman.

He said he is “tired” of the pattern he’s seen over the last six or seven years and wants to change it for good. “We’d pick up ground and move four or five steps forward, then something would hit us in the face and we’d move back three notches. The council is tired of that, too,” he said.

Peterman promised consistency in his leadership. “I ain’t no quitter. I’ll stick through it thick and thin. This is my home and we’re going to stay here.

 “Right now things look good for Catlettsburg. We have stopped spending where it didn’t need to be spent,” he said, noting the city’s most recent audit was presented to council this week and painted a similar picture. Under his watch, the city has paved more streets and fixed more sidewalks than it has been able to afford in the past because of the belt-tightening.

Catlettsburg has also been able to secure a record number of grants over the last year compared to previous years solely because it has sought them out, he said. Grants have been secured to buy new computers, fire equipment and improvements at the station. He said council members are specializing in specific areas of interest and expertise, but “before we do anything we all confront each other. If there are any expenditures, all my councilmen know it.”

Cornette has sought the mayorship unsuccessfully twice over the last six years after have served as a councilman for six years in the early 2000s.

Among his priorities, if elected, are a balanced budget and lowering city sewer rates.

“They are outrageous for people,” he said, referring to the utility rates. “Third priority would be no raising of any kind of taxes whatsoever. People cannot afford it in this day and time.”

Falling revenue and population loss are the biggest challenges facing the city, Cornette said. His solution? Annexation. “There are people wanting to come in,” he said.   

Cornette said, as mayor, he would also work to hold the owners of dilapidated buildings, especially those in the central business district, responsible.

“We need to do something about them,” he said. “Don’t leave the eyesores in the middle of town,” he said. “All the houses that are condemned, have the building inspector do his followups.”

Catlettsburg’s city council members are up for re-election. Candidates include: incumbents Tim Thompson, Leo Zornes, Jimmy Shivel, Sheila Lambert, Charlie Caperton and Carl Stanley and challengers Jessie Fields and Paul David Conley.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.