Thursday, July 3, 2014

Candidates strike few sparks at Sparks in the Park

The annual Sparks in the Park community gathering for the Independence Day holiday had some mild sparks of another kind Thursday night, as candidates in the Nov. 4 election spoke to the crowd in Walter Bradley Park.

Most attention was focused on mayoral candidates Sharon Turner and Grayson Vandegrift, city council members who are in "a great race that we've already heard a lot of talk on the street about," master of ceremonies Jim McDaniel told the audience.

Turner, an association executive, highlighted her record as a council member since 2005 and secretary of the Midway Nursing Home Task Force since 2003. She said the city has kept its equipment up for public safety, noting impending delivery of a new fire truck, and now needs to work on water lines, sewer lines and sidewalks "and pay as we go . . . being self-sufficient but helping each other."

Vandegrift, a restaurateur, noted his leadership of the Midway Merchants Association, the Midway Fall Festival and the Woodford County Tourism Commission. He also called for infrastructure work and said "Midway is a special place that must be preserved. . . . With that delicate balance of progress and preservation, Midway could be the model for small cities in the 21st Century."

Mayor Tom Bozarth, who is not seeking a third four-year term, said both candidates to succeed him have the best interests of the city at heart, so "It's going to be in good hands in the future."
Council candidates (L-R) Steven Craig, Kaye Nita Gallagher, Sara Hicks, Dan Roller, Bruce Southworth, Libby Warfield
Candidates for the city council were scheduled to make short speeches, but the event ran late, so they simply gave brief introductions of themselves. There are seven candidates for six seats, and six of the seven attended. The incumbents in the race are Sara Hicks, Dan Roller and Bruce Southworth; the newcomers are Steven Craig, Kaye Nita Gallagher, Libby Warfield and Peggy Sharon, who was the only one not present.

The other face-off of the evening was between Democratic state Rep. James Kay and his Republican challenger, Ryan Schwartz, both of Versailles. Kay noted his ties to Midway and said he would continue to represent all the people of the district, which comprises Woodford County and parts of Fayette and Franklin counties. Schwartz said Frankfort needs leaders "who don't put politics first, who aren't afraid to lose their seats."

The crowd also heard from Bobby Gaffney, the Republican candidate for Woodford County judge-executive, who said the county needs more jobs and "We need to work toward that as hard and fast as we can." He also called for better long-range planning and said that as a Fiscal Court magistrate, he voted against building streets in Midway Station before employers located there. Few have. County Judge-Executive John Coyle did not attend.

The first speaker was Democratic congressional nominee Elisabeth Jensen, who gave a largely patriotic speech but did mention the "dysfunctional Congress." State Rep. Kim King spoke for U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, who had an official engagement in Nicholas County, McDaniel said.

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