As a new year begins, here are a few of our hopes for this community, region, state and nation for 2007:

-- We hope the new leaders voters elected in 2006 will join with those re-elected to create a renewed spirit of cooperation and bring some creative and progressive new ideas to the table in 2007. When the Boyd County Fiscal Court next meets, it will have two new members as new Judge-Executive William “Bud” Stevens and Commissioner David Salisbury join incumbents Carl Tolliver and Marvin “Coach” Meredith on the county’s chief governing body. At the same time, newcomers Paula Hogsten and Cheryl Spriggs will join Commissioners Larry Brown and Kevin Gunderson and Mayor Steve Gilmore on the Ashland Board of City Commissioners. New blood on any governing body can be a positive, and we hope this is the case in both Boyd County and Ashland.

Voters in Greenup and Raceland also sent a rather clear message in November that should end the political turmoil that has hampered progress in both cities in recent years.

On the national level, Democrats will assume control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 12 years. Whether this will end the divisiveness that prevented Congress from enacting any meaningful legislation in 2006 remains to be seen. Our hope is that both Democrats and Republicans will get serious about finding real solutions to real problems instead of wasting time trying to score political points. Congress is in desperate need of leadership. Let us hope the Democrats can provide it.

-- We hope that in 2007 we see some actual construction taking place on Ashland’s riverfront. Until this happens, the tremendous potential the riverfront has for sparking revitalization of the entire downtown will not be realized. And speaking of downtown revitalization, as the ongoing Streetscape moves to the block of Winchester Avenue between 15th and 16th streets, we hope more care is taken to ensure that the work causes the least amount of disruption to businesses as possible. After all, with Community Trust, the Pendleton Art Center, the Putnam Agency, Don’s Men’s Shop and other businesses, the block is one of the busiest downtown.

While the work done on the blocks between 13th and 15th streets looks great, we think a little more planning could have made that work less disruptive to the businesses. We recognize that progress requires some inconvenience, but disruptions should be no more than necessary.

Finally, we hope to see some progress on the one block on Winchester Avenue that is most in need of a facelift — the one between 17th and 18th streets. Our hope is that by the time this year ends, construction will be nearly completed on apartments planned for the property where the former J.C. Penney’s building now is, and that the old Sears building will no longer be an eyesore in the heart of Ashland’s downtown.

-- Only the state’s constitutional offices — governor and lieutenant governor, attorney general, auditor, treasurer, secretary of state and agricultural commissioner — are on the ballot in 2007, and of those, all of the incumbents except Treasurer Jonathan Miller are eligible for re-election. Miller is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

One thing is certain: Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s re-election will not be the cakewalk former Gov. Paul Patton’s successful bid for a second term was in 1999. As this is written, the state’s two Republican U.S. senators — Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning — have not endorsed Fletcher’s re-election. Neither has Kentucky Senate President David Williams, the most influential Republican in the General Assembly. It is as if they are waiting for another strong Republican candidate to run against Fletcher. Meanwhile, no clear-cut favorite has emerged among the Democrats seeking the gubernatorial nomination.

Our hope is that this year’s gubernatorial campaign will concentrate on the issues and not sink to the mud-slinging that dominated last fall’s congressional races. Kentucky voters deserve candidates who offer fresh and workable ideas on public education at all levels, Medicaid, mine safety, economic development, meeting the challenges of an aging population, and the myriad of other challenges the governor will face. Shallow promises and personal attacks will not cut it.

-- The Kentucky General Assembly will meet in a 30-day session in 2007, and for the first time since voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing annual sessions, legislators will be able to offer the kind of session legislators promised in advocating annual sessions.

By being limited to meeting for only 60 days every two years, legislators argued that there was not enough time to do all the work expected of them. In fact, they contended that so much of the biennial sessions were consumed by budget issues, they had no time to tackle other, non-budgetary issues. They would use the 30-day sessions to concentrate on important issues not directly involving the budget.

However, because of the failure of the 2002 and 2004 General Assembly to enact a budget, the first two 30-day sessions in 2003 and 2005 were completely dominated by approving a budget a year late. So much for concentrating on other issues.

Well, this year the budget is not on the agenda for the 30-day session. That means legislators can concentrate on other issues like increased mine safety, added protection for social workers, what to do with the budget surplus and the like.

-- Finally, we repeat a hope from 2006 — “that this is the year when the troops begin to come home from Iraq in large numbers and when a strong, democratically elected government takes charge in Iraq.”

Frankly, the prospects are not encouraging. While President Bush seems undecided on what to do in Iraq, some are calling for more troops — at least for the short term. And as long as the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki tolerates the disruptive actions of the supporters of Moqtada al-Sadr, it is only adding to the turmoil in Iraq. A change is government may be necessary.

We remain convinced that the U.S. has an obligation to help clean up the mess it created in Iraq, but that will require more creative action than the Bush administration has offered to date.

As we indicated Sunday in reviewing our hopes for 2006, it was not a particularly good year. Here’s hoping 2007 will be much better.

Trending Video

Recommended for you