Tuesday, November 8, 2016

McDaniel, Simoff join council; Craig is odd man out

John McDaniel and Steve Simoff posed at City Hall last winter after
filing for city council. McDaniel signed Simoff's candidacy papers.
By Evan Merrill, Alexandra Kerns and Claire Johnson
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

The presidential election was not the only big race on election day for citizens of Midway, as seven candidates vied for six seats on the city council – a council that will have a new look come January, as Council Member Dan Roller did not seek re-election and incumbent Steven Craig was the odd man out. Newcomers John McDaniel and Steve Simoff were elected.

Incumbents re-elected were:
  • Sara Hicks, 64, a family therapist who returned to the area just 12 years ago and was encouraged by friends to run for a council seat in 2014. She received the most votes, with 457, which will make her mayor pro tem.
  • Bruce Southworth, 61, the former wastewater plant operator in Midway, who received the most votes in the 2014 election, will serve his third term after getting 438 votes.
  • Nita Kaye Gallagher, a well-known food server in Midway and a state-government retiree, will return for a second term, receiving 426 votes.
  • Libby Warfield, 64, the only council member besides Craig who voted against the “fairness ordinance” banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, finished in sixth, with 388 votes to win her second term. Craig got 355 votes.

McDaniel, 67, is the Midway correspondent for the Woodford Sun and a former police officer who served time for drug possession in the 1990s but just had his civil rights restored a year ago. He received 413 votes.

Simoff, 67, operates a bed and breakfast and is a racing official who has worked in the horse industry and lived in Midway for 15 years. He came in fifth with 408 votes.

Both spoke at length in their Midway Messenger profiles of a longtime dream or desire to hold a council seat. For both, that desire has been fulfilled.

Craig, 45, lost in the 2012 council race, when he finished in ninth of 10 candidates, but was elected in 2014.

Asked why he thought he lost, "Well, you know, I don't know. I don't think I have the answers to your questions. How about if I just make a comment? As far as going into how things feel and that stuff, is kinda irrelevant."

His comment was this: "I congratulate everyone that won. I'm glad they won; it is a good thing for them. I congratulate Sara Hicks on making vice mayor, and I want to see them keep doing good things for Midway and I think they will. I wish them all the best."

The new council of Hicks, Southworth, Gallagher, McDaniel, Simoff and Warfield will look to work with Mayor Grayson Vandegrift – who is in the middle of a four-year term – to address some of the issues in the election, such as repairing water and sewer lines, promoting tourism, and upgrading roads and sidewalks.

One voter for Simoff was Barb Wanner, 53, a Midway citizen for six years. She said in an interview that she voted for “the two candidates that came to the door,” including Simoff.

Wanner was one of several voters who said they did not really know the council candidates well enough to vote for them. Nathaniel Wyatt, 33, said he voted for only one candidate, McDaniel, because he knows him.

Geddy Walker declined to reveal his council choices. “I know most of those people because I work down at the drug store, so I did kind of find it hard to just exclude one,” he said. I think it would be better if there were more people running for that, because it’s almost a shoo-in that you’re going to get in if you ran for it.”

Information for this story was also gathered by Alexandra Kerns and Olivia Jones.

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