City Council candidate profiles 2016

Steven Craig focuses on utilities, including electric
By Alexandria Kerns
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
The city of Midway is undergoing great changes due to new plants coming to the Midway Station industrial park; Steven Craig says his skills could help ease the transition if he is re-elected to the city council.
“I have a skill set that applies to any city. . . .
I’m all about taking care of problems.”
Craig, 45, was born in Midway, and has spent his entire life in the town. He has one daughter who is 23 years old, and he has a brother, former magistrate Larry Craig. The council is Craig’s first political position.
Craig has worked in the Georgetown College facilities department for the past 20 years and also works for the Woodford County Fire Department.
He said the traits he learned in trade school and his Georgetown job gave him knowledge that appeals to the council.
“I have a skill set that applies to any city. My skill set is water, sewer, and electric. All of these things a city needs and I am very functional at them,” said Craig.
“With the growth coming in from the industrial park, there’s a lot of things in there that certain people wouldn’t ask certain questions about that would help keep things running smoothly.”
Craig was on the committee that came up with the city’s plan to help property owners renovate dangerous sidewalks.
Craig said that he knew that this would be a touchy subject for citizens, but with the great amount of foot traffic the city sees, he believed that this was crucial to the city’s continued growth, and he understood that citizens may not have the funds to fix their sidewalks.
“I’m all about taking care of problems,” said Craig. “I’m all for redoing this sidewalk thing, but I’m also all for working with people too.”
Craig has several ideas for the future payroll-tax income from new plants in Midway Station. He would like to see this money pay off the loan for the sewer plant.
This could potentially decrease residents’ water-sewer bills or save the money to put into the city’s infrastructure. Craig said he would leave this decision up to the citizens.
While many typically define infrastructure as water and sewer lines, Craig also adds electrical systems to this definition. Midway’s water and sewer lines have a problem with leaking, and currently need to be updated. The electrical system could also be updated, he says. If the citizens chose to put the money into infrastructure, Craig said, he would like to update the electrical system and move it underground.
Craig said the city would help pay for the update but Kentucky Utilities would still own the equipment.
Craig said this would be beneficial for both the city, which would be more prepared to handle bad weather, and the electric company, which would not have to spend as much time repairing the equipment.
Craig is the only candidate who opposes city involvement in creating public restrooms downtown, saying such facilities are the responsibility of businesses.
In May 2015 Craig was one of two council members to vote against the “fairness ordinance,” which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
The ordinance exempts religious institutions but not people acting on the basis of their religious beliefs. Craig said the ordinance should also protect such people’s rights, and would like to see the ordinance amended.
Craig said he is not anti-gay, and does not want anyone to be discriminated against.
Craig said he does not want to be re-elected to gain fame from the community; he simply wants to use his skills to better Midway.

Kaye Nita Gallagher sees more potential in tourism
By Olivia Jones
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
Kaye Nita Gallagher draws on her experience with tourism as she campaigns for another two-year term on the Midway City Council.
“I heard someone say once that you just take a left
off of Leestown Road, and you go back 75 years.”
Gallagher said she attended the University of Kentucky for one year but then “opted to start working for state government instead.” She worked in Kentucky State Parks personnel and payroll for 27 years. Eleven years after retirement, and several tourism-related jobs, this focus is still in the front of her mind.
Gallagher started restaurant work at 12, wiping tables at the Midway Café, owned by her grandparents. She grew up in Franklin County but attended school mainly in Scott County, where her mother was a special education teacher. She finished her last two years at Franklin County High School.
She moved into her grandparents’ house 25 years ago. Standing outside City Hall, Gallagher pointed to a tidy, blue house: “See that? That’s where I live. I can walk to work.”
Gallagher enrolled in the first night program at Midway College, now Midway University, studying business and organizational management. “I am about 15 hours away from a bachelor’s degree,” she said. “I keep thinking about going back.”
Gallagher is a server at Mezzo Italian Café and Provisions, which occupies the building where Mayor Grayson Vandegrift’s restaurant, 815 Prime, operated until it closed in 2015.
Gallagher said she has dabbled in a wide array of jobs in addition to purchasing a small business. “I work at Kohl’s part time, help over at Equus Run Vineyard whenever they need it, serve at Mezzo, and the kettle corn business,” which she bought from John Maybriar in 2014 and runs with her friend Courtney “every weekend in the fall.”
In an interview, she commented on the little shops, fairs, parks, railroad and the overall ambiance of the city, emphasizing her priority to bring in more tourists. “Midway is such a cute little town,” she said. “I heard someone say once that you just take a left off of Leestown Road, and you go back 75 years. It’s true.”
She shared some ideas to improve tourism, which included encouraging businesses to stay open later, and pushing for a breakfast restaurant, and a small hotel.
The hotel idea has long been on the city’s mind, but the prospect lies mainly with Dennis Anderson, who owns the small Green Gables development in the south side of I-64. It includes a plat for a hotel, but the other city in Woodford County may see one first.
“Versailles is getting the hotel—even though we’re right off of the interstate,” Gallagher said. However, the Holiday Inn Express in Versailles may not be built until a sit-down restaurant is secured.
New plants in Midway Station, across the interstate from Green Gables, could increase prospects for a hotel. They will certainly bring the city a windfall of new payroll-tax revenue.
Asked what should be done with the funds, Gallagher said a few sewer lines need to be fixed and some sidewalks should be repaired.
During her last two years on the council, Gallagher was appointed to the committee that came up with the plan to help property owners repair the sidewalks the city considers most dangerous.
Gallagher said she’s running for re-election because the same people who prompted her two years ago are prompting her now. “And I’m doing it for the money,” she said with a laugh (council members are paid $50 a month). She clarified that people run for council “because we want to see things happen.”

Sara Hicks aims for clean energy and cooperation
By Ben Wolford
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
Environmentalist and long-time family therapist Sara Hicks aims to keep her seat on the Midway City Council in the Nov. 8 election.
“I really care about all parts of our society. I really
 care about justice and respect for all people.”
Hicks, who spent much of her childhood on Hicks Brothers Farm, now named Lantern Hill Farm on Leestown Road, said in an interview that she moved to Los Angeles at 26 to pursue a film career.
“I was a musical theatre major and that’s what took me to Los Angeles,” said Hicks, 64. “I wasn’t very good at it. I became a therapist out there, and that's what I really loved doing. I did that for 30 years.”
Hicks moved to Naples, Florida, where she had spent part of her childhood, to continue practicing therapy. In 2004, an ice storm ravaged Kentucky, and she returned to her home state to care for her mother, who was living alone.
“My mother lost electricity for almost two weeks and no one came to get her out of her house,” she said. “So I said ‘I’ve got to go home, this is my job.’”
Hicks began working at The Nest, a center for women, children and families in Lexington, saved money and bought a home across the street from the church she grew up attending, Midway Presbyterian, where she uses the community garden.
Hicks said friends encouraged her to run in 2014. “They knew that I really care about all parts of our society. I really care about justice and respect for all people,” she said. “I’m really passionate about it. I’ve spent my whole life working for non-profits and never wanted to get rich on someone’s back.”
She added, “When I decided to run I just really started thinking . . . What is the role of a city official, what do I want my legacy to be? What do I want our legacy to be?
Where do we want the town to move into the future? It is important to consider in order to clarify for oneself the parameters of your responsibilities.”
Hicks presents a goal-oriented, cooperative but occasionally persistent demeanor in meetings. She said that unless she “finds it very important, won’t talk about it,” but in the recent case of a Midway resident’s pet cat killed by a trap set for groundhogs, Hicks pressed the council to do something.
Hicks spoke to the idea of working with other council members to find solutions that are appropriate for the whole, not the individual.
“It’s important to know that each council person has different goals and things they care about. If you don’t think it’s a bad idea and you can tell it’s something they are passionate about, it’s important to support them,” she said. “In turn, you hope they will support you in the things you really care about. I think that’s how things really get done.”
If re-elected for her second two-year term, Hicks said she would “work towards cleaner energy, water system repairs and improved sidewalks for the city.”
“The first thing we need to do is lock down our sidewalks and lock down our water system and sewer system,” she said.
“We have to start moving into geothermal and solar power. It would attract a positive populace to the town.”
Hicks said those who “feel the same about the environment would be drawn to Midway.” and has ideas of how to reach this goal.
“Midway should probably be in the energy business,” she said. “The city could do geothermal and solar for city hall to save money in the long term and to be a leader or example of what is possible for private citizens.”

John McDaniel favors tourism committee, Main Street manager
By Evan Merrill
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
Correspondent for the Woodford Sun, president of the merchants association and director of the Midway museum, with a family legacy of giving back to the community: Many things qualify John
“Midway’s never had like a five-year vision plan;
everything’s done according to a crisis.”
McDaniel, 67, for a city council seat, and he has long wanted one.
“For me it’s all about Midway,” he said. “I don’t have any other agendas or anything like that. Everything I do is for Midway.”
His desire couldn’t become a reality until 2015, when McDaniel had his voting rights restored. He had been convicted of drug possession, which resulted in his imprisonment for three and a half years, ending in 2000. That came after stints with the Midway and county police forces and owning a business that left him with a back injury. He began selling his leftover painkillers and moved on to other drugs, he told the Messenger in 2012, and that led to prison. However, he feels that he turned the experience into a positive.
“It’s actually the best thing that ever happened to me, in the standpoint that it got me out of all that and it got me back to Midway again,” McDaniel recalled. “I got involved, started the museum, I started writing when I was in prison. It was a learning experience. I never did drugs myself.”
In some communities it may be tough to re-establish trust after crime. Not in Midway, according to McDaniel.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “I’m not sure you can do that in just about any town. He said he is “really confident” that he has re-established trust with the community. That appeared to happen quickly; he was named the town’s Citizen of the Year in 2002.
McDaniel said he has attended council meetings since he was 10, when his father was chief of police.
“John has attended more council meetings than anyone,” former mayor Tom Bozarth said. “He always wants to know what is going on in Midway and how he can help. When I was in politics, I would ask John his opinion on certain matters to give me a different perspective on an issue. He helped me see both sides in a different light.”
Such experience gives McDaniel an unusual amount of experience for a non-incumbent, having attended council meetings and being a good friend of a two-term mayor. According to McDaniel, he met with the former council under Bozarth after meetings on many occasions.
Looking ahead, McDaniel says Midway needs a tourism and economic development committee, as well as a paid Main Street manager, which the town once had.
“We could coordinate more downtown activities,” he explained. “We’ve missed out on a couple of good downtown businesses that we probably could have had, had we had a Main Street manager, a tourism committee, or an economic development one.”
With increased payroll taxes from Midway Station, McDaniel would like to see another project: “Redoing the water and sewer lines and setting up a plan for that. Midway’s never had like a five- year vision plan; everything’s done according to a crisis.”
He would also like to see the alley behind some stores converted into parking, and see council members and the mayor get a pay raise.
For citizens on the fence, Bozarth gives his best pitch for McDaniel: “John does not have an agenda and more importantly, John will ask questions, which I feel is much needed on the council.”
So, can the man who wrote the 16-year-old Bozarth a speeding ticket, the man who overcame tough times, the man who has served numerous roles in Midway – achieve his aspirations of being on the council? On Nov. 8, Midwegians will decide.

Steve Simoff looks to preserve Midway as it grows
By Kaitlyn Taylor
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
Some children know exactly what they want to be when they grow up; that is when Steve Simoff knew he wanted to be part of a city council.
“I look at the big picture, long-term picture, not just
what we need now, but what are the future citizens
of Midway and Woodford County are going to
need and acquire 50 years from now.”
Living in Orient, Iowa, population 427, Simoff grew up attending council meetings with his father, who managed the local grain elevator. When his father wanted to do certain things, he went to council meetings to seek approval. Simoff didn’t fully understand it until his father told him about the importance of being involved with the community and having its respect.
Simoff, 67, was born in Orient, southwest of Des Moines, but raised in Kentucky. He said he has lived in Midway for 15 years. For 18 years he was a trainer at a public racing stable. After that he was a manager at a race horse center in New Mexico for three years.
He said he moved to Midway to work as operations director for Margaux Farm, worked there for five years, and is a certified racing official and has worked part-time as a placing judge for three years.
Simoff is single and has a 33-year old daughter who lives in Indiana. He has two grandchildren, aged 4 and 6.
The first-time candidate says he has a duty to fulfill: “giving back to a community that has looked after me; it is my turn to look after it.” He says he is confident that he has the community’s best interests at heart and has tremendous respect from his neighbors.
Simoff said his father taught him to be genuine. “The best way to live life is to be genuine,” he said. “If you are genuine with others, respect, truth, trust and support come with it.”
Simoff served on the Citizens Advisory Committee that spurred improvements at Walter Bradley Park. Asked what he can bring to the table as a council member, he said he would listen to the community and get citizens involved with council meetings.
“Our job is to be stewards of Midway,” Simoff said. He said that if elected, he wants to go through neighborhoods to bring residents to council meetings because they deserve to know what is going on.
Simoff said the council must look at the big picture when making decisions. “I look at the big picture, long-term picture,” he said, “not just what we need now, but what are the future citizens of Midway and Woodford County are going to need and acquire 50 years from now.”
With new plants coming to Midway Station, “keeping Midway intact” should be taken seriously “with the thought of future generations kept in mind,” Simoff said.
He said he is for development and growth, but “We have to continue to protect the city as it now stands. . . . The growth does not take away the uniqueness of our community, but at the same time, we have to be aware that there are growth issues that we have to face, and I believe I can help with the making of those decisions.”
At a candidate forum, he said that as Midway grows, it will need to expand fire and police services, have long-range plans and fix problems with the sewer and water systems, which have been “neglected for a long time.”
He said the increased payroll-tax revenue from Midway Station won’t arrive for two years, but there are things that need doing, such as sidewalk repair and the entrance to Midway.
Afterward, he said the money “should probably be used for the infrastructure of the city, repairing water lines and sewer lines, and paving more roads – or at least a good share of it.”

Bruce Southworth favors upgrading utilities and sidewalks
By Matthew Hunter
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
After holding several leadership roles in different areas of public service, most recently the Midway City Council, Bruce Southworth hopes that experience earns him another two-year council term.
"I want to be a good steward for the taxpayers'
money. . . . I hope I've done a good job for them."
The Scott County native was Midway’s wastewater plant operator from 1992 to 2000, then was utility manager for the water and sewage department in Versailles, ultimately moving up to public works director.
“I will use my professional experience to continue to develop Midway,” Southworth said in an interview.
“I’ve been useful with the water and sewage. I have a lot of administration experience in Versailles and a lot of city experience with departments.”
Southworth said that during his two terms on the council, Midway’s water and sewer department have improved.
“Work still has to be done,” he said, “but it’s functioning well and moving in the right direction.”
Water-sewer bills are a major complaint of Midway residents. At a council meeting early this year, he noted that Midway’s water rates are lower than in most small cities in the Bluegrass.
However, the sewer bill, which is based on the water bill, is higher because the city had to build a new, updated sewage-treatment plant in 2000 before the old plant had been paid off and is still paying off both plants.
After receiving the largest number of votes in the 2014 council election, Southworth has served as mayor pro tem, filling in for the mayor when he is absent.
In 2015, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift appointed a committee of council members to address Midway’s sidewalk dilemma, with Southworth as chair. The committee came up with a plan for the city to help property owners repair the sidewalks the city deemed most dangerous to the public, up to $500. The council, which had budgeted $25,000 for the work, raised the limit to $1,000.
“We have a plan in place where we’re offering incentives,” Southworth said. “The extra revenue from factories and developments could go toward helping repair them.”
The cracks, which rise and dip in some areas around downtown and in local neighborhoods, create a tripping hazard for those wishing to walk. Midway painted some of the hazards with yellow lines to make them more visible, but it is not a long-term solution.
At a recent forum, Southworth said the city “has made some real progress,” including passing the “fairness ordinance” to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and attracting major employers to the Midway Station industrial park.
Southworth said he wants to see Midway Station continue to develop, including keeping the utilities and infrastructure upgraded.
“I want to be a good steward for the taxpayers' money,” he said.
As a result of the new plants in Midway Station, the city will get an estimated $200,000 more per year in payroll taxes. Asked what the city should do with the money, Southworth said, “Improvements in the wastewater system in infrastructure. We need the city to run more efficiently.” At the forum, he also mentioned sidewalk repairs.
Southworth, 61, said he encourages citizens to call or email him when they have questions, comments or concerns.
“I hope I’ve done a good job for them and they see fit to elect me once again,” he concluded.

Warfield says water and sewer are her top priorities
By Marissa Beucler
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
Libby Warfield is not only a Midway City Council member running for a second term, she is a mother, church organist, interior designer and cancer survivor.
“As a council member I try very hard to not
have any ulterior motives of any kind and
always think how will the decision I make
affect my neighbors, my friends, my
family, church members and myself.”
Warfield, 64, was born and raised in Midway. She was married in 1972 to David Warfield and has a daughter and a son. Serving the community runs in the family. Her son Matt was a council member for two years, and her mother, Jean Clifton Sharon, was a member for 12 years and was a correspondent for The Woodford Sun.
Warfield filed to run for the council in 2012, but pulled out of the race because she was diagnosed with stage-four cancer of a salivary gland. Given a 30 percent chance of survival, she underwent successful radiation and chemotherapy, but the cancer grew into Warfield’s facial nerve trunk, permanently paralyzing one side of her face.
Five months after her treatments, Warfield said, she was again playing the organ for her church, a role in which she has volunteered since the age of 16.
Warfield’s passion for the community’s needs and issues are seen in council meetings. She often speaks up to voice her opinion, and can get emotional when certain issues are brought to the table.
“As a council member I try very hard to not have any ulterior motives of any kind and always think how will the decision I make affect my neighbors, my friends, my family, church members and myself,” said Warfield.
Asked what issues she cares about most, Warfield replied, “Citizens need to be responsible for their own properties.” She said keeping Midway beautiful and safe for families is essential for residents and tourists.
As for her goals as a council member, she said she wants the city to live in harmony, with citizens respecting each other’s choices and space: “We must learn to live with each other as peaceably as possible.”
Warfield was one of two council members who voted against the “fairness ordinance” that bans discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The ordinance exempts religious institutions but not people acting on the basis of their religious beliefs.
“The fairness ordinance is fair to everyone except some religious persons who cannot find scripture that allows them to support it,” she said. “For these who try to study and find guidance in the Bible there must be scripture to support arguments that dictate daily living.” She said she tries to represent all Midway residents as individuals.
Midway will be receiving more payroll-tax money as a result of the new plants in Midway Station, and Warfield has several ideas about what to do with the funds.
“The number one thing that I see as the problem is the water and sewer pipelines,” she said “They are older than me and I know how I feel when I get up in the morning.”
The resurfacing of roads and improving the quality of sidewalks in Midway is one of Warfield’s main concerns, she said, because it benefits all who live and visit Midway. But such work is expensive. “This month it will cost around $75,000 to resurface Northside Drive,” she noted.
Warfield has visions of a visitor’s center that would attract more tourists and generate revenue. She said the city could acquire a business storefront or house, or build new, financing it with its own tourism commission and bed tax if a motel or hotel comes to town.

Profiles of candidates for 56th District state representative

Republican Dan Fister says it's time for a change
By Claire Johnson
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
From a farmer in high school, to a Fayette County jail sergeant and senior accountant for a multinational corporation, a now-retired Daniel Fister wants to be a state representative.
Dan Fister
At 58, Fister has lived his entire life within 15 miles of the hospital where he was born in Versailles.
Fister said he never wanted to be involved with politics, until early December, when his father-in law, Jack Kain, suggested the idea of running against Democratic state Rep. James Kay of Versailles.
Kain said in an interview, “The county Republican Party approached me and asked if any of my sons wanted to run. He said he thought his son-in-law would “be perfect for this” because he is a good man with a great family.
But the biggest factor Fister had going for him, Kain said, was that he was not a politician, but still experienced for the job.
“Dan’s been here for over 20 years,” Kain said. “He knows the problems we have, and I am with him all the way.”
Fister said that as he was testing the waters, his deciding moment came while he read The Woodford Sun’s coverage of the county’s heroin problem, and “There was a news report about a shooting in Lexington, and my granddaughter was sitting on the floor playing,” Fister said. “She was five at the time.”
“I took a look at her and a cold chill went down my back. These kids have got to have something better.”
If elected, Fister said, he would get to know community problems by weekly town hall meetings.
“I want to pass laws and make decisions based on right and wrong,” he said, “not on what is politically correct or who I’m going to offend.”

Democrat James Kay says his experience trumps his age
By Elizabeth Allen
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media
At just 33 years old, James Kay is one of the youngest members of the Kentucky House of Representatives, but says he is not lacking in experience or knowledge of state and local issues as he seeks re-election.
James Kay
Kay was nominated by Democratic Party officials and won a special election to represent the 56th District in June 2013 after the resignation of Carl Rollins of Midway.
Kay said he is one of the busiest legislators, claiming that he has more committee appointments than most of the other representatives and has passed three bills into law, “more than the entire freshman class of state representatives in the House.” Kay is not really a freshman, because he served most of Rollins’ term.
Another prominent issue in Kentucky is the heroin epidemic, which Kay said may be the most important issue throughout the state. Last year, he said, nine Woodford County residents died from overdoses.
Kay’s plan begins with limiting doctors’ abilities to prescribe pills.
“While I know that it is a drastic measure, desperate times call for desperate measures,” he said.
He also calls for more funding to improve the quality of treatment to break the addiction cycle; increase funding for law enforcement, first responders and the health care community; and “We have to crack down on the dealers of death, who are dealing heroin, because they are literally killing our citizens.”
As Republicans push to gain control of the House, Kay calls himself an independent voice working to address the needs of all the people of his district.
“I’ve worked as hard as anybody to make real changes in Frankfort,” he said. “No one tells me what to do. I listen to the voices of my constituents.”


By Paige Mullen
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

With almost two years on the city council under his belt, Grayson Vandegrift is hoping to be the next mayor of Midway.

Vandegrift said he had no intention of running for mayor two years after being elected to the council, but gained confidence and received encouragement and support from many people and decided to run.

His opponent, Sharon Turner, is running on her greater experience. Vandegrift said that he respects her but they just see things differently.

He said that his experience of running a business during a massive recession, and his involvement in many aspects of the community, have qualified him to be the best candidate.

“Sometimes there is a time when you feel like maybe it’s time for a new voice, maybe it’s time for a step in a little bit different direction, a different way of thinking about things and I feel like I can provide that better than anybody,” he said.

Vandegrift is 32 years old and was raised just outside the city limits.

He said that as a child, he took piano lessons and taught himself to play guitar, and was captain of his high school basketball team at Sayre School in Lexington. He went on to study English and history at Wittenberg University in Ohio as well as the University of Kentucky.

Today, Vandegrift says he loves U.S. history and is an avid sports fan, as well as an animal lover who has two dogs and a cat. He also enjoys volunteering in community organizations.

“It’s just fun to be a part of something bigger than yourself and it is fun to be able to work for the people and see results of improving your community,” he said.

Vandegrift and his fiancé, Katie Brown, plan to marry in May 2015.

When asked to name the most influential person in his life, he said it was his father, Rob Vandegrift, from whom he learned a lot about business and how to treat people.

“I think I learned a lot from how fair he is,” he said.

Vandegrift and his father opened the 815 Prime restaurant in the heart of downtown Midway.

 “I learned a ton about what it really means to run your own business so, it’s been an enjoyable experience,” he said, adding that running a business is a lot like government.

Vandegrift paraphrased Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a former restaurateur: “All public officials should run a restaurant first.” He said Hickenlooper was probably referring to budgeting, dealing with criticism and many different people from all walks of life, and making quick decisions.

Vandegrift got his foot in the door early with Midway civic affairs.

At 25, he was elected president of the Midway Merchants Association. He has been chairman of the Woodford County Tourist Commission, as well as coordinator of the last two Midway Fall Festivals.
“I think we had some success in those organizations in what we were able to accomplish, and from then on I got more and more involved with all of Midway,” he said.

Turner said of her opponent, “I think Grayson has been great on council. He asks great questions and he gets out there and works. . . . I’ve always liked and admired Grayson. I think he’s done a great job the past couple years.”

At the Oct. 2 candidates’ forum, Vandegrift said the downtown is “in good shape” and citizens want to see rest of the city get the same attention.

When asked about the civic group Midway Renaissance, which had some conflict with the city before he joined the council, he said he can bring the city together.

“I don't have any enemies and I don't think anybody considers me their enemy, so I think I have a unique ability to do that,” he said, “because I have done it before with bringing merchants together, which can sometimes be difficult and bringing other facets of the county together to work on projects.”

Vandegrift said that no matter the circumstances, citizens will be welcome to the table to voice their ideas and opinions.

“I just don't want to see it split into factions,” he said. ”We have seen other parts of the county where there are different groups and they are kind of working towards the same team but their almost working against each other duplicating efforts.”

Vandegrift said he would assemble a committee of Midway citizens, council members and experts to draft a plan to work on the city’s infrastructure: water lines, sewers and sidewalks.

“If you put enough people together and you work towards something, you can get it done,” he said. “I think that Midway could be one of those places you hear about getting an award for being greatest small city in Kentucky.”

Vandegrift said he would be a mayor of action, but “We are not going to change Midway. Midway is great the way it is; we are just going to make it better.”


By Nicole Hennard
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Sharon Turner knows Midway like the back of her hand. Her love for the community drives her to better the town, and she says that’s why she’s running for mayor. 

Turner has served on the City Council since January 2005. She fills in for Mayor Tom Bozarth when he is absent, serving as mayor pro tem, a job that by tradition goes to the highest vote-getter for the position – which was her in all five council races she ran. She chairs the finance committee and sits on the cemetery, ordinances and policy committee. 

Turner is also well known for her work with the Midway Nursing Home Task Force for its entire 16 years, and serving as the group’s secretary for the past 14. Its efforts have produced a senior-living community, the Homeplace at Midway, due to open soon. But her work for seniors goes beyond that.

“Something a lot of people don’t really know about Sharon personally is, through the years Sharon has helped a lot of us senior citizens with our computers when we would have problems,” said Ola Moore, a Midway resident and good friend of Turner. “I think that says a lot about her, that she takes time out of her day to look out for us. She’s really just a wonderful person.”

Turner, 52, says she wants to be mayor to further her service to the community.

“I think experience and a common sense approach will go a long way,” she said. “I think if we were in a bigger city, there would be more direct paths laid out for us because it’s to a grander scheme. Being in a small town, we still have the ability to use to common-sense approaches and be more efficient and fine tune, while still allowing these people to do their jobs every day without micromanaging.”

Friends call Turner selfless and dedicated.

“She’s really true to Midway,” said Moore. “She’s been here all of her life and she’s going to put Midway first.”

Turner said she and her family moved back to Kentucky three weeks after she was born in Van Buren, Ark. Her father was in the Army at Fort Chaffee. Turner and her brother, who lives in Midway, and her sister, a Lexington resident, grew up working on a farm on Old Frankfort Pike raising Thoroughbred horses, corn and tobacco. 

Turner is still close to her family and she attributes her passion for serving to her parents’ love of the community. When asked who has inspired her the most, Turner named her mother, Kathy Alexander.

“She stayed home and took care of us kids and got us all through school,” said Turner. “She made sure that we all did what needed to, first.”

Turner has business experience. She started keeping books for the family farm while a student at Woodford County High School, and keeps books for four businesses out of her home office in Midway.

Turner and her family bought Kentucky Beverage Journal, a 68-year-old monthly magazine, in 1992. She works in Frankfort running a trade association for a group of beer distributors, which keeps her there much of the time during legislative sessions. Turner says she can do mayoral work from her Frankfort office.

Turner says she is running on both her “business experience and personal life experience,” and her vision for Midway is to make it an ever better place to live by becoming more efficient, with better policies and procedures to make city government more transparent. 

Turner has noted that during her tenure on the council, the city’s budget surplus has increased from $25,000 to $600,000. Asked how much credit she takes for it, she said she is the chair of the finance committee and works closely with the mayor to make the best decisions for the town. 

“Not one person can take the credit; it takes all of us,” she said. “We are using our money to work for us. We have cut out things that we got in the habit of using, but didn’t really have to have. Under Mayor Bozarth, we have been under budget all eight years.”

Turner says she plans to continue to lead through efficiency, managing the budget, public safety, and water, sewer and sidewalk projects. She said that because a water and sewer plan is in place, she wants to immediately start work on sidewalks, and would start with the issue the needs the most attention, take care of it in a timely fashion and work her way through a prioritized list of problems. 

“Sharon is a hard worker,” said Charlann Wombles, who served on the council with Turner for more than seven years. 

Grayson Vandegrift, the other candidate for mayor and fellow council member, says he respects Turner’s abilities.

“One thing about Sharon I've always admired is that she sticks with what she believes,” said Vandegrift. “She has always been diligent in looking at a budget and how you work with it.”

After years of working to serve Midway and the community, Turner wants to keep working. 

“I have the time and the ability to do this,” she said. “I am willing to serve.”


By Sarah Brookbank
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

The City Council election in Midway is simple this year. There are only six candidates for six seats, so there is no true race. There will be some new faces, but you might recognize them.

The council will lose Aaron Hamilton, who has been on the council for eight years. Council Members Grayson Vandergrift and Sharon Turner are running for mayor, since Mayor Tom Bozarth is not seeking a third four-year term.

New to the council will be Libby Warfield, Kaye Nita Gallagher and Steven Craig. Returners will be Sara Hicks and Bruce Southworth, starting their second two-year term, and Dan Roller, who will be starting his third.

Craig, who placed ninth of 10 candidates in the 2012 council election, is the brother of Magistrate Larry Craig, who was defeated for re-election in the primary.

Warfield, whose mother and son have been on the council, was among several people who applied for appointment by the council to fill a vacant seat in 2012. The seat went to former council member Charlann Wombles.

Warfield and Gallagher discussed what they wanted to do during their term on the council during a candidate forum at Midway College on Oct. 2.  The candidates both stressed improvement to the city of Midway, but in different ways.

Warfield led with a wish list of things that she would like to see in Midway: a pavilion for the cemetery and an urgent care clinic. At the top of her wish list is an ambulance station closer to the town, something the county government is slowly moving toward.

“Once again I feel that we have begged and pleaded long enough for an ambulance hub closer to Midway,” Warfield said. “If you have ever sat with a loved one that you weren’t sure was going to make it, that’s the longest 20 minutes you’ll ever sit waiting for the ambulance just to get to you before they start to move the patient to somewhere to get them some help. It’s terrible.”

Gallagher stressed the need for Midway to boost tourism and mentioned bringing a small hotel to Midway, noting that when people come to town, there is only one bed-and-breakfast. She stressed the need to keep those tourists in Midway instead of letting them stay in Frankfort, Georgetown or Lexington.

“I’m just interested to see how things can be changed to bring more tourists to Midway since a lot of people come for the horses, for Keeneland and for the dining destination, and hopefully we can get that to grow as well,” Gallagher said.

Asked why she was running, Gallagher said “Several people asked me to run. I’m retired from state government, where I was in tourism. I’ve worked at Equus Run. I’ve waited tables for the past 30 years in downtown Midway.”

In a telephone interview, Craig stressed the need for the council to be fiscally responsible. He also said that a big obstacle that the council will face is that many of the council members are going to have less experience than usual.

Warfield said one of the most important things a new council member can do is research and learn. She frequently attends council meetings, and recently confronted the council about adherence to the state Open Meetings Act, noting that enough council members to make a quorum spend time downtown after meetings. Council Member Bruce Southworth replied that such meetings are legal as long as city business is not discussed.

In October, Warfield submitted to the council six questions, which she said were written by her son Matt, about the proposed tax-increment financing of the public infrastructure for redevelopment of Midway Station.

One of the biggest topics among candidates for city office is infrastructure. During and after the forum Council Members Sara Hicks and Dan Roller stressed the importance of fixing the infrastructure, as did the new candidates.

Craig said in the interview, “We have to make sure we do our homework right.” He said the council as a whole will have to think in advance to make sure that projects are properly executed and funded as there are many large projects to be done.

“We’ve got some really big projects coming up; we have to be accountable,” Craig said. He also said that the projects like revitalizing infrastructure need to be researched and planned before they are started.

At the forum Hicks said, “I would like for us to fix our sidewalks. I would like to solve the problems of the water that’s brown for some of our citizens. I would like to fix the problems where the grade on some of our roads isn’t working correctly.”

Warfield agreed that sidewalks and streets need to be fixed. She also stressed the importance of fixing water problems.

After the forum, Roller noted that Midway has received a low-cost loan to fix water lines on Higgins Street, but fixing the lines is just one step. Both mayoral candidates hope to fund infrastructure projects with revenue from developments at the Interstate 64 interchange.

“We have no street cleaning equipment, so anything that goes on the street ends up going into our storm sewers,” Roller said. He also said that this doesn’t help with the road grading issues that need to be fixed.

Roller said he feels confident in working with all the candidates for the council, and while each of them will bring something new to the table, they’ll be able to work toward the same goals. “We’ll work with anyone if they’ll work with us,” he said with a laugh.

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