Since he is the only candidate for Ashland mayor and is certain to be elected to a four-year term on Nov. 6, Chuck Charles had no one to debate at Tuesday night’s candidate forum sponsored by the Ashland Human Rights Commission at Ashland Community and Technical College.
Thus, Charles seized the opportunity to share his vision for Ashland with the approximately 50 at the forum.
“I have a lofty goal because I believe in having high aspirations,” he said. “I want Ashland to be a city of choice, not just for the Tri-State and for Kentucky, but for the entire United States.”
Charles, the chief fundraiser for Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital and former president of Summer Motion, said he thought his greatest strength was his ability to get people to work together.
Charles said he wants to set clear goals for the city and unite city employees, fellow members of the Ashland Board of City Commissioners and city residents behind those goals.
“If you don’t know what your goals are, how do you know what you are striving for and whether you are succeeding?” Charles asked. “I plan to have clearly defined goals that you can measure.”
After graduating from Paul G. Blazer High School in 1968 and earning two degrees from Morehead State University, Charles spent 13 years with the FBI in Washington, D.C., before returning home to Ashland.
“I came back home because Ashland is a great place to raise kids,” Charles said.
Under his leadership, Charles said every person in Ashland will be a part of the mayor’s team he hopes will be pushing to achieve common goals.
He said he plans to organize “walks with the mayor” where residents will walk around their neighborhoods with him and share opinions of the city. Charles said he wants other members of the city commission to join him in becoming “city ambassadors” who will regularly meet with business owners, store managers and people who work in the city to discuss shared concerns.
“I consider myself a good listener and I want to hear from anyone with a question about the city,” he said.
Charles stopped short of supporting beer and wine sales at events on the new riverfront, but agreed “that may be something we will want to look into a little bit more.”
Charles said he wishes he “had an answer” for filling the G.B. Johnson building and other vacant structures downtown. However, with a new president of the Ashland Alliance, a new president of Ashland Community and Technical College, a new director of the Ashland Area YMCA and a new mayor, Charles said Ashland has attracted a solid group of outstanding new leaders and he wants to work with them in pushing for common goals. He said he also is very supportive of the regional approach to economic development, but admitted his main objective is promoting Ashland.
Charles’ term will begin in January when he succeeds former Ashland Police Chief Tom Kelley as mayor.
JOHN CANNON can be reached at email@example.com or at (606) 326-2649.