Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

December 7, 2012

The new mayor

Veteran councilman Kenny Fankell can lead city forward

The Independent

ASHLAND — The Olive Hill City Council made an excellent choice in choosing City Councilman Kenny Fankell to succeed Danny Sparks as mayor following Sparks’ resignation in the aftermath of being arrested on drug charges.

Fankell has been on the Olive Hill council for 12 years and probably knows city government as well as anyone. He is well liked and respected and has been active in local politics and school and civic affairs for most of his adult life. In choosing an experienced council member as the new mayor, the city council wisely avoided the necessary time it would have taken an outsider to learn enough about the day-to-day operations of the city to be an effective manager of city affairs, the primary job of the mayor in a mayor/council form of government.  

Sparks’ resignation was accepted by the counicl just six days after FADE drug task force detectives arrested him Nov. 28 near Olive Hill Elementary School after an investigation they said had been going on for several weeks. He was charged with trafficking in marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, which is a felony. The detectives also found an open container of alcohol in his vehicle, which is in misdemeanor violation of state law.

We will leave it up to the courts to determine Sparks’ guilt or innocence, but we commend him for resigning. Sparks could have remained as mayor until after his trial, which could be many months, but he recognized that a cloud would hang over city government and his leadership would be seriously hampered while awaiting trial. As he said in his brief, hand-written letter of resignation, “present circumstances” made resignation best for the city, the council and his family. His letter did not mention his arrest and pending charg-es.

“There are a lot of mixed emotions, but we need to move forward and that’s what we intend to do,” Fankell said upon having the council unanimously name him mayor (Fankell wisely and rightly  abstained).  He said he would meet soon with department heads to sort out budget issues and confront the city’s water problems, among other things.

The arrest and resignation won’t seriously harm Olive Hill, Fankell said. “People are ready to move on,” he said.

That’s exactly what the city should do, beginning with the appointment of a council member to replace Fankell.

When former Ashland Mayor Paul Reeves suddenly resigned after being charged with federal crimes involving child porn, the Ashland City Commission moved quickly to make the sudden transition in power with no noticeable impact on city services. We are confident Olive Hill will do the same.