Profiles of candidates for the Midway City Council were written by students in the University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media. They appear in alphabetical order by candidate name.

Adam Bailey says he's focused on helping local businesses

By Heston Bates

City Council candidate Adam Bailey has no prior experience with elective office but says “I want to give back to the community that has given myself and my family so much.”

Adam Bailey
Bailey, 34, is director of community outreach and marketing at Trilogy Healthcare, a senior-living community in Lexington. He earned a business degree from Western Kentucky University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Midway University. He has lived in Midway for five years with his wife Amy and his two daughters, Harper and Scarlett. His father, Freeman Bailey, is director of the Woodford County Emergency Medical Service.

Bailey says one of his main goals if elected is to work more closely with local businesses to help them navigate the difficult economic climate of the pandemic. 

“I think it’s critical that we support them,” he said in the candidate forum sponsored by the Midway Woman’s Club and the Midway Messenger.

Bailey said he would love to give businesses another round of relief grants “if that’s in our budget” and suggested that the city work with the Woodford County Tourism Commission “to see what we can do.” 

He also suggested that instead of continuing to lower property taxes as real-estate assessments rise, some property-tax revenue could be used to help businesses:  “I think we should talk to the citizens and say, we can cut this property tax, or we can keep it and use that revenue to help support our small businesses.”

Another chronic issue facing the council is speeding on city streets. The city has tried a number of measures to deter speeding, such as new speed-limit signs and placing an empty police car on South Winter Street. Asked what he believes the council should do about speeding, Bailey said “We need collaboration from the state, the police department and us to come up with a plan.”

Midway recently bought a ladder truck that doesn’t fit in the fire station, so Mayor Grayson Vandegrift raised the idea of building a new fire station at Midway Station. Bailey said, “It’s definitely something we need to explore. I would love an opportunity to talk to the fire department and see what they think.”

Another issue at Midway Station is the proposed buffer zone. The Economic Development Authority has offered the city 38 acres along the highways in return for debts it owes the city. The property would be a buffer zone separating the industrial park from the highways. Bailey said “It sounds like a fair trade and good deal, but I would need more information to say I support it one hundred percent.”

One question facing the council is whether to keep pursuing industrial development once Midway Station is fully developed. Bailey said the urban service zone should not change. “It’s important that we do create growth opportunities” he said, “but at the same time make sure we keep that small town culture that I think is Midway’s allure.”

The historic Odd Fellows Lodge at 116 W. Main St. is another issue that the council may have to handle. The building inspector has required the owner of the property to make repairs to the building by Oct. 31, and it looks unlikely that the owner will get the repairs done in time.

Asked what the city should do about the building, Bailey said “It’s difficult because it is a historic building and I think it should be protected by Midway, but at the same time it is very rundown; it’s dangerous.” He added, “I think we should reach out to the community and get their opinion and see if we can find a way to keep the building.”

Kaye Nita Gallagher says her experience is needed at a critical time

By Heston Bates
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Running for a fourth term, City Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher says she believes that her six years will be crucial in helping Midway navigate the unpredictability of the pandemic and other issues.

 “I think it helps,” she said in an interview, “because I know what’s going on especially with Midway Station and the sewer project.”

Kaye Nita Gallagher
Gallagher, 56, is a retired state employee, assistant manager at the Brown Barrel restaurant, and runs a mobile kettle corn business, 2 Ladies and a Kettle. She also works part time at Kohl’s in Frankfort. Gallagher said she believes working a variety of jobs helps her council work because the jobs provide connections to the community.

Gallagher grew up in Franklin and Scott counties, attended the University of Kentucky for a year and worked in personnel and payroll for Kentucky State Parks. She said she has lived for nearly 26 years in her grandparents’ old house in the 100 block of West Main Street.

What goals does Gallagher have if elected to another term? “I would like to see Midway Station at 100 percent occupancy.” The city has already filled the industrial lots but still needs to sell the commercial ones to complete development. “I want to see all the lots filled before my time on the council is over,” she said. In the forum, she said, “Once we get Midway Station full that’s it; we don’t need to develop anymore.”

Asked if she favors another round of pandemic relief for businesses, she said, “If it’s possible yes. If there was another round, it would be back on us, and chances are it couldn’t go to the citizens again; it would have to go to the businesses. . . . Obviously their sales aren’t as good as they’ve been in the past,” she said, “but they’re surviving.”

Due to a rise in real-estate evaluations the council has lowered property-tax rates. Asked in the Oct. 5 candidate forum if the council should continue to do that if assessments keep rising, Gallagher said “I think with Midway Station full the occupational tax is going to bring in a lot more money. If we can lower it without being a burden on the city, that would be great. If not we ought to keep them where they are at.”

Another issue facing the council is speeding. Gallagher said new speed limit signs and an empty police car in front of the doctor’s office to deter speeders seem to be only temporary solutions, because she still gets complaints about speeding. Gallagher is open to new solutions “if we can do some kind of research, if we can get some sort of study.”

The city recently bought a new ladder truck for the fire department, but it won’t fit into the fire station on Bruen Street, prompting Mayor Grayson Vandegrift to suggest building a new station at Midway Station. Asked about that, Gallagher said, “Not right now; possibly in the future, as long as we have the money, but if there is a fire at Midway University the one on Bruen Street would be able to get there faster.”

In developing Midway Station, the Woodford County Economic Development Authority has incurred debts to the city. The EDA recently proposed to retire the debt by deeding the city 38 acres of land along the highways that would be a buffer zone between the industrial park and the roads. Gallagher said “We should accept the buffer zone just because they have helped us out so much with developing Midway Station.”

The owner of the historic Odd Fellows Lodge at 116 E. Main St. has been required by the building inspector to complete repairs by Oct. 31. “I really don’t know what we would with it if we took it over,” Gallagher said. “A lot of people have talked about wanting a public restroom in downtown Midway; well, there you go.”

Sara Hicks says she is seeking re-election to finish work on projects

By Taylor Beavers

Sara Hicks has served five two-year terms on the Midway City Council and is seeking a sixth.

She said in an interview that she wants to be re-elected because “There are some projects that I would really like to see us complete,” such as painting the water towers and repairing cemeteries.

Sara Hicks
Hicks, 68, was born in Midway and grew up on a farm now called Lantern Hill Farm, just outside the city. She completed her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Azusa Pacific University, then practiced as a marriage and family therapist for 30 years in Los Angeles and Naples, Florida.

Hicks returned to Midway in 2004. She takes care of her mother, Neisje Spragens, who is 96, and gets involved in the community through groups such as the Dining for Women club, an organization that donates money to international projects that support women.

Hicks is an advocate for environmental conservation, often raising such issues at council meetings. “I think we all should be concerned about the environment,” she said. “It takes a group of people on city council to push these ideas, because otherwise they don't get talked about.”

She said she wants to preserve the beauty and health of the community by making a sustainable agenda with ordinances and plans for the city. She says she wants to keep as many mature trees in the community as possible, and replace those that have to be cut down. Looking at options to use solar energy for heating and cooling is also one of her goals.

Hicks also voiced her support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and said she would like to see more people of color in positions on boards and policymaking groups in Midway: “It’s important that we make every effort to bring more people of color into our governance.”

When local businesses received covid-19 relief, Hicks was in support of it and believed it lifted people’s spirits and gave them hope.

Hicks said in the Oct. 5 candidate forum that she would be in support of another round of relief “if we get it from the federal government.”  She said that during the pandemic, the economy is too unsteady for the council to consider lowering property taxes further if real-estate assessments keep increasing.

“We need to see how we’re doing, in terms of income for the city, before we think about reducing property tax further or reducing occupational tax,” said Hicks. In an interview, she said, “I don’t foresee Midway lowering the occupational tax.”

Hicks says rezoning of land for industry has come to a stopping point. She said that until the whole of Midway Station is built out, there’s no need to rezone any property for industry.

“That’s a lot of property that’s already been allotted to growth,” she said in the forum. “I think that’s probably enough that should do us, hopefully, for another 50 years at least.”

Hicks is also in favor of accepting land for a buffer zone around Midway Station in return for forgiving debt of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority. “Any time that you can put aside land to be left as parkland,” she said, “ it's a benefit to the environment and a benefit to your community.”

As for relocating the fire station to Midway Station, partly to accommodate a recently purchased ladder truck, Hicks said she would support it because, “The firemen have said they need more space.”

Hicks said she wants to be responsive to these requests but believes other projects should come first, such as repainting the water towers.

Asked what should be done about speeding in the city, Hicks said she would consider speed bumps but worries that they would slow ambulance response time. “Time is of the essence when someone is in an ambulance,” she said, adding that continued attention from the police department would help.

The owner of the property at 116 W. Main St. has until Oct. 31 to complete repairs, but if he doesn’t, Hicks says she would want to “follow our ordinances for blighted property.”

John McDaniel seeks return to council after two years out of office 

By Gage O’Dell

John McDaniel, who ran for a second term on city council in 2018 and lost, is running to get back on the council. And he is running on his own terms.

One of the most well-known figures in Midway, McDaniel did not give an interview to the Midway Messenger, did not respond to the seven questions that the Messenger emailed all council candidates, didn't answer the Chamber of Commerce questionnaire and did not participate in the candidate forum.

John McDaniel
He did say on Facebook that he is running because “Many people have put their heart in soul into Midway, making it what is today. I want to continue to carry on the love they had for the community and continue to practice financial conservatism.”

He also answered a questionnaire from Woodford Forward, which exacerbated his ongoing conflict with Mayor Grayson Vandegrift.

“The city should have a five-year comprehensive plan that includes present number of businesses that are licensed, carrying out the work that needs to be done on infrastructure, and consideration for possible grants and future purchases for the fire department,” McDaniel said, the added:

“Our firefighting needs are changing as the structures being built at Midway Station require special equipment and need to be considered ahead of time, not just buying firetrucks on the spur of the moment. . . . We don’t need a truck that when it is picked up ... requires two service calls to get it to Midway. If we have as much money as the mayor says, let’s get good, reliable equipment. Let’s plan ahead.”

Vandegrift told the Messenger that that the fire department had searched for a ladder truck for two years. “They came across a perfect opportunity for us and got a really good ladder truck,” he said.

He said the money for the truck was in the budget, as part of state fire aid: “We didn’t specifically budget to purchase it this year, but we had the line item in the budget as essentially a contingency.”

He said McDaniel’s statement about service calls was inaccurate. “I have no idea what he is referring to,” he said.

McDaniel also said in the questionnaire that he hopes “city government can find its way clear to support the next bank that opens in Midway.”

The city moved all but one of its accounts from WesBanco before the bank announced that it would close its Midway branch in January. Vandegrift told the Messenger in September that he did not think the change had anything to do with the closing.

Also in the questionnaire, McDaniel said he would need to have more information regarding the Versailles northwest bypass. He is the only candidate not opposed to the project.

In early 2015, the council endorsed a letter from an alliance of Woodford County groups saying the road should not be built. In 2016, it was removed as a goal in a revision of the comprehensive plan, as part of an amendment by a committee of representatives from Midway, Versailles and the county government.

McDaniel, 71, has a long record of public service, volunteer and paid. He has been active in the Midway Merchants Association, the Midway Veterans Memorial, Midway Renaissance and the Midway Museum. He was also a city and county police officer for 12 years.

McDaniel was Midway’s citizen of the year in 2003 and received a governor’s citation for community Service in 2007 and 2013. The council recognized him in 2012 for saving the life of a woman who was choking at a local restaurant. During the last council meeting of his term, a farewell resolution honored him by calling him “Mister Midway” for his passion to the city and his civic leadership.

McDaniel lost his bid for a second term on the council after finishing third in the Democratic primary for Midway-area magistrate. He placed seventh of eight candidates, 19 votes behind sixth-place finisher Bruce Southworth. The top six vote-getters are elected.

Logan Nance still taking stands on issues as he seeks second term 

By Gage O’Dell

Logan Nance took a high profile as a freshman City Council member, winning passage of a resolution promoting resettlement of refugees and voting against annexation and industrial zoning of land next to Midway Station.

Nance is running for a second term on the same reasons he ran for his first, calling for continued infrastructure investment and exploring options for affordable housing, and a more recent issue of finding a better option for investing the city surplus.

Logan Nance
Nance, 33, is a six-year veteran of the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan for a year. He graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in political science in 2014 and is a consultant for a firm that helps businesses improve employee performance,

Nance introduced a resolution in May 2019 declaring that the city of Midway supported the resettlement of refugees in Kentucky communities and called on others to join them in support. The council passed the resolution 4-2 after much debate.

Nance said he was surprised by the initial public backlash, but felt confident after a public forum on the issue that Midway’s heart was in the right place. “I think that public forum was one of the best things to come out of my two-year term,” he said. “I’m very proud of that resolution.”

In the same month he introduced the resolution, Nance was the lone council member who voted against annexation of the 138-acre Freeny tract, on grounds it would ensure industrial development beyond Midway Station. Seven months later, he was the only member to vote against rezoning it from agricultural to industrial, saying “At some point we have to stop our industrial development.”

Nance now says, “I’m not in favor of any more industrial development,” and he is no longer a loner. During the Oct. 5 candidate forum, all 10 candidates agreed that it was time to stop rezoning land in and around Midway for industry, especially once Midway Station hits capacity.

Despite his wish to stop industrial development, Nance said he is thrilled with the results Midway has seen from it. “I’m very happy with what’s going on at Midway Station,” he said. “It’s allowed us to do some great projects around town and has a great number of jobs,” which have tripled the city’s main source of revenue, the occupational tax on wages and net profits.

Nance said he is undecided on whether the council should accept the proposed deal on the buffer-zone land at Midway Station. The city would take the land along highways in exchange for forgiving debts of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority. “My only concern is what kind of commitment is it going to take for us to maintain it,” he said. “I still need to look into it more.”

Nance was in favor of reducing property-tax rates this year, to counter an increase in real-estate assessments, but said in the forum that the council should consider a more far-reaching option.

“If we’ve decided there’s not a ton of places to build more homes,” he said, “I do think we need to look at reducing or getting rid of property taxes at the city level altogether. . . . You have a lot of people in Midway on fixed income and as the population ages, that will go up more. We have to look at it and see how we can help people not get priced out of their homes.”

Nance also stood out at the forum by opposing city funding of public restrooms downtown, saying “I have concerns with the logistics of building the facility and maintaining it.” He said city employees are already overworked, and “Not having public restrooms does force people into the restaurants.”

And he is the only council member to come out against the idea of building a new fire station at Midway Station to replace the one on Bruen Street.

“I want the fire station to stay in town,” he said. “Now I know the mayor said it was at the recommendation of the chief, just one brief conversation. . . . I think it’s important the fire station be near residential buildings, just in case there is some sort of emergency; every second counts.”

Nance said he wants to find a better option of investing a portion of the city’s surplus than the current certificates of deposit, which produce “very minimal returns,” he said. “I think there are great options at minimal risk that could give us more return in the end.”

Andrew Nelle has been watching the council and wants to join it

By Evan Johnson

If political novice Andrew Nelle gets elected to the City Council, it won’t be unfamiliar to him. Ever since he moved from Lexington to Midway in November of 2019, he said, he has had a strong desire to get involved in the community and local government, and started proving it immediately by watching every meeting of the council, Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said when Nelle filed in June.

“I love Midway and want to give back,” Nelle said in an interview.

Andrew Nelle
Nelle has an associate’s degree from McKendree University and is pursuing an associate’s degree in hotel, motel, and restaurant management at Sullivan University. He is a delivery driver for Amazon Transportation Services and a musician. He and his fiancé Jillian have three children.

Nelle said he was in the Air Force for eight years and is a part-time chaplain assistant and staff sergeant in the Kentucky Air National Guard. He is also a noncommissioned officer at the affiliated Religious Affairs, assisting military members and their families by providing religious support.

Nelle calls himself a proud Hispanic-American. His mother’s family is from Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe, in the Caribbean. He says he understands the importance of cultural heritage and the need for it to be preserved, one aspect of Midway that he is very passionate about.

Nelle said he experienced some prejudice growing up in Lexington, due to his multi-ethnic background and darker skin tone, but those experiences strengthened him and gave him a clearer perspective on race and ethnicity issues in the U.S. He recalled, “There were several times where I experienced situations like that when I was really young and it definitely changed the way I see certain things.”

In answering the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce questionnaire, Nelle said he comes from “a family of civil servants.” His father was chair of the history department at the University of Kentucky and his mother was a longtime research librarian for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Nelle said Midway still needs growth opportunities, but he wants to preserve the historical aspects that give Midway its identity. “Maintaining the historical heritage in this town is really important to me.”

Nelle emphasized growth opportunities, not change, as the cornerstone of his campaign agenda: “I do not believe Midway needs change as much as it does growth opportunities.”

In particular, he said small businesses need to have as much support as possible from the council and the community during the turbulence of the pandemic.

In regard to the proposed Midway Station deal with the EDA, Nelle said “I am in favor of any initiatives that completely benefit Midway and its citizens. If I understand this deal correctly, acquiring land for forgiveness of previous debts seems like a legitimate exchange.”

Asked about what the city should do about the historic building at 116 E. Main St. if the owner fails to complete repairs by the building inspector’s deadline of Oct. 31, he said the owner should get more time, given the pandemic. “I believe a fair but stern warning should be given to the building owners,” he said. “However, I also believe more time should be provided for them to complete their restoration.”

Nelle said he was interested in establishing a small business near Midway, and advocated tax policy that would be advantageous to small businesses and citizens.

He said he is the type of person “not afraid to knock on some doors” and would do whatever was required of him as a council member. He said he wouldn’t be opposed to frequent town-hall meetings on Zoom so that every citizen could have a chance to voice their opinions.

Mary Raglin says she would bring diversity, unheard voices to council

By Jordan Brown

Mary Raglin, a Midway resident pretty much her entire life, is retired at 69 but looking to get more involved by trying to get elected to the City Council. This is her first race for an elective office.

“It’s time to take a step into the unknown. I feel like I’m getting married to Midway after a long relationship,” Raglin wrote in her Woodford County Chamber of Commerce election profile.

Mary Raglin
Raglin told the Messenger she wants to be a voice for African Americans and people of color, who she believes have been unheard in recent years. Asked what she can add to the council, she said, “Number one is going to be diversity.”

Raglin would be the first councilwoman of color and the first African American since Aaron Hamilton served in 2011-14. He signed her nominating petition.

She reiterated her motivation for running during the candidates’ forum, saying she wants “to be that voice you don’t hear; I want to be that Black voice. I’ve lived in Midway all my life and I’ve been silent. I don’t want to be silent anymore; I want my voice to be heard.”

Raglin worked for the Lexington-Fayette Urban County government for 27 years as a 911 operator and also retired from the Army Reserve after 25 years. The council appointed her to the Woodford County Human Rights Commission in 2016, and she would have to resign from the commission if elected.

During the forum, the candidates agreed on many topics, but Raglin was one of two who opposed city funding for public restrooms, along with incumbent Logan Nance.

Asked if it is time to stop rezoning of land for industry in and around Midway, Raglin said, “I would say Midway is a small, quaint, little, personable town. Let’s keep it that way. . . . Midway Station is a big enough project that will keep Midway busy for a while.”

The council has reduced property taxes as real-estate assessments have gone up. Raglin was asked if that should continue, or if the occupational tax should be reduced. “Reducing the property-tax rates would be very beneficial to all property owners, especially our elderly and our senior citizens,” she said. “I really need to take the time to study more about occupational taxes, though.”

Asked if the city should fund another round of covid-19 relief to businesses, Raglin said she wouldn't object. “Everyone is struggling during this covid-19, so if we can help, then we should.”

Speeding has been an issue in Midway for a long time. Raglin said, “I say put more speed-limit signs.”

Raglin said she supports the idea of a new fire station, “one that would be able to house all of the equipment we have and possibly have space for future equipment we made need later and still be accessible for the city of Midway at Midway Station.”

Asked if the council should accept the proposed deal on the buffer-zone land at Midway Station, Raglin said, “This is what excites me about having a seat on the Midway City Council. This is what I want to learn more about and have a voice that will affect everyone in Midway.”

Asked what the city should do about the property at 116 E. Main St. if the owner doesn’t complete repairs by Oct. 31, she said the owner should get more time if requested. “If he is making an effort in getting the repairs done but has not yet completed the job I would be a little more patient,” she said. “If he just flat out refuses to make the repairs, then the building inspector or the mayor/city council has to take the next step . . . whatever that is.”

Raglin says she wants to be on the council to learn how to help with issues “I’ve lived in Midway, in my own little bubble, my own little world. I don’t know what this driving force is other than I don’t know, my Lord and Savior, that I need to get involved.” 

Steve Simoff seeks second term on council after sitting out last election

By Taylor Beavers

City council candidate Steve Simoff knew early on that he wanted to get involved in politics.

As a child growing up in the farming town of Orient, Iowa, he watched his father attend city council meetings and learned the importance of community involvement. After graduating from Omaha School of Art, Simoff spent his adult years learning the customer service trade.

Steve Simoff
He trained horses for 18 years and then managed a race horse center for three years. When he moved to Midway, he was the operations director at Margaux Farm for five years. He is a certified racing official and has worked as a placing judge.    

He has also worked for travel agencies and now owns a vacation rental in Midway called Horse Country Cottage. “After you run three companies you kind of get an understanding of what people expect and what people need,” he said.

Simoff, 71, has lived in the Midway area for 20 years. He was elected to the council four years ago but didn’t seek re-election in 2018. He said he decided to take a break to focus on his health when he learned he had issues with his spine. He said he also used the last two years to learn more about the position, following council meetings and gaining a better understanding of the job.

Simoff said he decided that now was the right time to try again because “I love this town and the people in it.” He said he wants to help the council continue to support the community’s needs, such as how the city supported business during COVID-19.

He approves of the relief funding that was given to Midway businesses and said, “It was one of the best things the city council did.” If the council has another such opportunity, Simoff said, he would support that. “If it would come up again and we’re still fighting the covid virus and things are slow,” he said, “all the businesses downtown certainly can use some support.”

Simoff said he believes that any time the council is in a position to give citizens a break, they should. For example, he was in favor of the council lowering property taxes in response to rising real-estate assessments.

When thinking about the future of Midway, he says he wants to balance the growth of the city with maintaining the city’s “charm.” He said the city has reached a stopping point when it comes to the rezoning of land for industry in and around Midway, and fears that traffic will become a large issue. Despite this, he also acknowledges the positive effects of this growth, such as the taxes it is bringing in.

Simoff endorsed the idea of moving the fire station to Midway Station to have a better place for the recently purchased ladder truck and be closer to an area that gets many fire calls.

Simoff said he would also approve of the council accepting the deal with the Woodford County Economic Development Authority to create a buffer zone at Midway Station to retire the debt EDA owes the city. He said he believes this would help make the industrial park more attractive.

On speeding, Simoff said the council should consider putting up more stop signs. He also said the council may be able to work with the state in order to get the local speed limits changed. He said there is a good presence of police officers in the city and they are doing a good job of patrolling for the issue.

If the property on 116 W. Main St. doesn’t have its repairs completed by the building inspector’s deadline of Oct. 31, Simoff said the property owner should have a meeting with the blighted property committee to figure out what can be done. “People need to communicate and communicate between each other and try to find a solution,” he said.

Simoff said that the council working as a team is a priority for him. He said he wants to be involved with finding common ground and making good decisions for the community, helping plans be carried out “in a timely manner.”

Bruce Southworth cites experience: 'I know what it takes to run a city'

By Jordan Brown

Bruce Southworth has learned the ins and outs of local government over the last 35 years. He has served four terms on the Midway City Council and hopes his experience will help elect him to his fifth two-year term.

“I’ve been working for cities for 27 years,” Southworth said in an interview. “I know how cities operate; I know what it takes to run a city.”

Bruce Southworth
Southworth, 64, retired in 2011 after 27 years of public employment. He was water-treatment plant operator for six years in Georgetown, then wastewater-treatment plant operator in Midway for 11 years. He also served as public works director and city administrator in Versailles.

Southworth’s experience has been felt. He has been vocal about the need to repair and upgrade sewage systems, and feels like he needs to be on the council for the 20-year wastewater plant review.

Before the last election in 2018, Southworth said he planned on this being his last term, but now says he “miscalculated” the timing of the wastewater-plant review. “I wanted to be here for that,” he said, “and I’m assuming it will come in this next term.”

Asked why he deserves to be re-elected, he said, “Well, I don’t know, I guess that’s up to the people. I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job, but I feel like that’s not my choice.”

Asked how he thinks Mayor Grayson Vandegrift has been doing, Southworth said, “I think Grayson has done really well. We’re really good friends and I think he’s on top of it.” He said he has no desire to run for mayor in 2022.

Southworth repeatedly stressed the team format for being on the council. “I’m just one vote,” he said. ”There’s five other people on there that vote on these things. It’s hard to take credit for something that five other people agree with you on.”

He added, “We’ve cut property taxes, we’ve reduced our sewer fees; those are things I think we needed to do. But of course, I think everyone on the council felt the same way.”

Southworth did not participate in the candidate forum but replied via email to questions asked in it.

“I feel we have sufficient industrial property to keep Midway going for several years,” he said. “I see no need to rezone any property currently.” Asked if he was worried about Midway becoming stagnant if not developed more, Southworth said, “I strongly feel that Midway is such a unique, tight-knit, community that stagnation would not be an issue.”

Asked if the city should continue to reduce property-tax rates if real-estate assessments keep going up, or reduce the occupational tax rate, Southworth said,” I’m always in favor of lowering taxes if the city coffers can withstand it. The occupational tax should not be reduced.”

Southworth said city should fund another round of relief to businesses if it gets federal funds for it, and should accept the buffer-zone deal at Midway Station.

He said the city should seriously consider replacing the fire station with a new one at Midway Station. “Of course, funding for such a facility will be the controlling factor.”

As for speeding, “Speed tables and speed humps seem to be the most viable solutions,” he said.

Southworth ran sixth of six candidates in 2018 but remains optimistic heading into the election that would reward him with a fifth term. “The people will make up their mind,” he said. “If they think I’m doing a good job they’ll elect me again, if they don’t, I’m sure I’ll be at home.”

Stacy Thurman, seeking second term, cites 'passion for public service'

By Evan Johnson

“I’ve always had a passion for public service,” City Council Member Stacy Thurman says as she seeks a second term. She runs the Midway Branch Library, is a member of the Midway Woman’s Club and has been an AIDS volunteer.

Asked what qualities are most important for a council member, she said “I think a great council is made up of people with different qualities and opinions. This brings a diversity to the decision-making process.” She also stressed the ability to be able to work well in a team, and said she tries “to be transparent and a quiet voice of reason.”

Stacy Thurman
Thurman was born and raised in Madison County, and says her childhood was so rural that the family had no neighbors. She has an art degree from Berea College and a master’s in library science from the University of Kentucky. She and her husband Ian have two children.

Thurman shared her thoughts on what areas of Midway need the most work, and a common theme was “the infrastructure. It’s not sexy.” She said she would like to see more sidewalks or walkways to and from Midway University’s campus and from Northside. “I am dedicated to working toward the creation of safer routes for pedestrians.”

Asked about rezoning of land for industry around Midway, she said, “I feel that Midway Station has been very successful, but is also starting to reach a capacity and I am not in favor of expanding our USB to allow for more industry.” That is the Urban Services Boundary.

As for the idea of a new fire station being built at Midway Station, “It’s certainly an option worth looking into. The fire station on Bruen is aging and may become more burdensome to the city in the near future. We need to hear from our fire department, evaluate the response time from Midway Station, and weigh the financial strain of a new building.”

Thurman chairs the city’s Affordable Housing Committee, which was created in April 2019 and has had meetings but has issued no reports or proposals. “I would like to get the community involved by conducting a housing needs assessment and working with landowners and planning and zoning to come up with more equitable options for those who want to live and grow old in Midway,” she said.

According to Bowen National Research, a housing needs assessment identifies housing issues and solutions for decisions regarding the housing market. It serves as a basis for future housing and policy decisions and can be utilized to gauge and secure financing for future projects or programs in housing.

Thurman said that while “growth is needed, we do need to take better care of our citizens on fixed income.” She added, “I would like to explore equitable housing options in Midway, outside of single-family residential.”

Asked whether the city should continue to reduce property-tax rates if real-estate assessments keep going up, or reduce the occupational tax rate, Thurman replied, “If these factors are forcing people out of Midway, if they are creating barriers for our residents and small businesses, then, yes, we should try and eliminate those barriers if it is fiscally responsible to do so.”

She said the council should accept the proposed deal on the buffer-zone land at Midway Station, taking it in return for forgiving debts of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority. “The debt is not likely to be collected and the green space we would gain would serve as a nice cloak, of sorts, for the industrial park.”

Asked what should be done about 116 E. Main St. if the owner doesn’t complete repairs by the building inspector’s deadline of Oct. 31,  she said “I would like to see this process play out, within reason, to try and save this historical building.”

City Council candidate profiles, 2018

Political newcomer Danielle Doth has unique perspective

By Desiree Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

A unique perspective is what city council candidate Danielle Doth hopes to bring to Midway. If given the chance to serve on the council, Doth says, she plans to bring a practical and approachable side of herself and pursue goals such as fixing sidewalks, making the town healthier and listening to the opinions and problems of those in Midway.

Doth, 35, grew up in a family of seven on a horse farm just outside Midway. Her parents ran a small gifts-and-collectibles business, The Cherry Orchard, that Doth began working in at the age of 12. After graduating from Lexington Catholic High School, she went straight to the Marine Corps. After getting out in 2006, she moved back home and began working on her Bachelor of Arts in Equine Management at Midway University.

“I thought about all the places in the world that I wanted to live, and I loved Midway so much, it was such a cool town . . . that I wanted to move back and put my roots down and raise a family there,” she said.

Doth also has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is a certified yoga and fitness instructor and a certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She has also been an administrative assistant for the state director of mine permits.

Doth says her fitness work is very important to her, and after working in the field for more than 10 years, says her town could use healthier lifestyle habits: “The studies out there show that, you know, the healthier you are earlier in life or as you age . . .  the healthier your community is.”

Along with striving to live a healthy lifestyle, Doth is passionate about improving Midway’s infrastructure and instead of building more homes, remodeling old and broken-down buildings to create housing, using the city’s budget surplus.

 “My biggest thing is the things that we can do to fix things now,” she said.

Doth said she favors the proposed property-maintenance ordinance “if it’s done responsibly” and wants violation cases to be heard by the council, not a proposed code-enforcement board.

Doth sees a disconnect among  Midway businesses, the city and organizations. She said there have been times when events go on and business employees have left for the day, unaware of the money there is to be made. Doth said she has personally experienced this.

“The businesses, half the time, don’t even know what’s happening,” she said.

She says there are many people in Midway who feel council members are unapproachable, so real issues are often not dealt with properly.

Doth said she often donates her time to teach free classes in and around Midway. A few of her passions for the community include establishing public restrooms and fixing sidewalks.

“Our families shouldn’t have to fall over sidewalks, seniors shouldn’t have to fall over sidewalks, and they are bad… and I think that would be one of the biggest things that I would really push,” she said.

Asked at on Oct. 18 candidate forum, “What do you want to be able to say that you have accomplished that would lead voters to elect you for a second term?” Doth, who had just arrived, replied, “Uh, I wouldn’t vote for me. No, um, what do I want to accomplish? I just want to do a good job. Midway is an amazing town. It’s got great things to offer and I think we should highlight what we have. You know, we talk a lot about talking … but I think there should be more doing.”

Information for this story was also gathered by Christie Netherton of the UK School of Journalism and Media.

Kaye Nita Gallagher, a busy person, wants another term

By Karlil Wilson
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Kaye Nita Gallagher, campaigning for her third term on the Midway City Council, says she is looking to help upgrade the infrastructure throughout Midway and get more tourism downtown, where she lives and works.

“The infrastructure needs upgrading and we are working on that,” Gallagher said, noting that the city’s engineers are using a camera to diagnose problems in the sewer system.

Gallagher says the city has more money to improve infrastructure than in recent years because of occupational taxes from the Lakeshore Learning Materials and American Howa Kentucky plants in Midway Station.

Gallagher, co-owner of a candy store, says Midway has been “booming and busy. . . . Being a business owner, I tend to ask people where they are from. My next question is why they are here.” She says people usually come to Midway to eat or shop and even just for a day trip to get away from home.

Gallagher, 54, grew up in Franklin County but went to school mainly in Scott County, where her mother was a special education teacher. She graduated from Franklin County High School and attended the University of Kentucky for one year, then worked 27 years in Kentucky State Parks personnel and payroll and has been retired from that for 13 years.

The last four years Gallagher has served on the Woodford County Tourism Commission, which promotes tourism in the county.

Gallagher said she has lived in Midway for 23 years, in her grandparents’ house in the 100 block of West Main Street. A block east, she and her friend Courtney Neikirk own and operate Midway Sweet Tooth and a mobile kettle-corn business, 2 Ladies and a Kettle.

She has two other part-time jobs, at Kohls in Frankfort (almost 26 hours a week, she says) and at Mezzo Italian Cafe, across the street from her candy shop. Gallagher said she enjoys all her jobs because she enjoys talking to citizens and seeing new tourists.

Members of the newly elected council will be paid $200 a month, up from $50, under an ordinance the council passed last year. Gallagher said she isn’t in it for the money.

Speeding is an issue in Midway, but Gallagher said the council can do nothing about it other than have the police monitor it better. She said she sees speeding in front of her home: “At night a lot of times, you can see sparks underneath the cars as they’re jumping the tracks. It is a problem. They need to slow it down.”

Affordable housing is also an issue. “What may be affordable to someone, may not be affordable to another,” she said, but offered ideas on the issue. She noted that across the interstate at Midway Station, there are at least 10 acres of residential land. “We just approved a zone change from residential to light industrial. There are still few acres that are reserved for residential and I would be okay with a nice apartment or duplex on this land.”

Such a project would be up to Lexington developer Dennis Anderson, who has the development rights to the property, under a deal with the Woodford County Economic Development Authority in which he pays the interest on the loan EDA used to buy and develop the property. Gallagher said Anderson has until December 2019 to pay the EDA the full amount, and she assumes that the land will revert back to the EDA if he does not.

On the proposed property-maintenance ordinance, Gallagher said it is definitely needed, but thinks the council should handle cases of violation, not a new code-enforcement board, as has been proposed. But she also said, “The jury is still out on a board,” and said training that the council members have received on the topic said “It is easier to enforce if there is an officer . . . It seemed like the bigger cities have the board.”            

Sara Hicks, a civic activist, seeks a fourth term on the council

By Christie Netherton
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Sara Hicks, who has served three terms on Midway’s City Council, is running for a fourth term in the Nov. 6 general election.

Hicks says her biggest concerns for Midway in the next two years are moving forward with repairs, policies and regular maintenance of the sewer system and an ordinance that would enforce property maintenance.

She said the ordinance has been delayed by disagreement among council members over such points as whether it should be enforced by the council or a council-appointed board.

Also, she said, “It’s not a popular ordinance with some people because it’s someone’s private property that you may be impinging on when they don’t keep their property up, but I think it’s the right thing to do and I think we need to get off the pot and get it done.”

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said Oct. 10 that the ordinance will be handled by the council that takes office Jan. 1.

Hicks also said Midway has a need for child care to help young families and safe passage for children walking to and from Northside Elementary School.

“Midway is really well positioned to provide child care for the people that work in the industrial area,” she said. “We’ve had it before and it worked really well.”

“Child care is such a burden on young families,” she said. “It’s so expensive, and you want to know your kids are safe.”

Hicks would like to see a bridge built over the creek along Dudley Street for pedestrians, specifically young children, to avoid walking through the park’s woods or near traffic.

“My neighbor has a 4- and 6-year-old. I’d like for them to be able to walk from here to the library or school and not have their mother worry,” said Hicks.  “They really shouldn’t walk through the woods because it’s just not safe.”

Dudley Street crosses the creek at the entrance to Walter Bradley Park and once led to the school site, but is blocked by the school fence. Apparently, a gate would be needed in the fence for students to access the old part of Dudley Street that leads to the school. Hicks said the safety of the students is worth the extra effort.

Hicks, 66, was born in Midway and grew up on what is now Lantern Hill Farm on Leestown Road. She was a family therapist for 30 years, representing abused children in Los Angeles and Naples, Fla., after receiving a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at Azusa Pacific University in Los Angeles. In 2004, she returned to Midway where she began working as family counselor at The Nest and joined Fayette County’s Board for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

Hicks is the chair of the council’s Properties Committee and Cemetery Committee, chaired the Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival for three years, is an active member of Midway Presbyterian Church, and is part of an effort to create waterways and paths for biking, hiking and equestrian use in Woodford, Owen and Franklin counties.

Hicks said she became interested in the council in 2012 when Midway debating whether to sell its water infrastructure to Kentucky American Water to avoid the massive expenses of repairing it.
“My concern was that . . . we would always have to get our water from American Water forever,” she said. “It didn’t come to fruition, but I originally stayed on because I didn’t know if that might crop up again, but then after I was on for a while, I became involved in pet projects.”

Many of Hicks’ projects are related to parks development.  She said one project in the works is a boxcar stage in the Paddock Field below the pavilions. The parks board is working on a grant application for the Woodford County Community Foundation to receive a portion of a $25,000 grant, which the public will allocate at Midway University Nov. 14. The city’s Child Care Task Force will also apply, but Hicks said citizens can vote for more than one organization.

Hicks also wants to make Midway more environmentally friendly by incorporating solar power and pushing for electric powered vehicles. “I’m very interested in taking steps to be a leader in preserving the environment,” she said. “I think it has to stay on people’s radar that it’s the right thing to do, if we can afford it.”

Volunteer park manager John Holloway seeks council seat

By Thomas Franconia
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Park manager and former theatre professor John Holloway seeks a spot on the Midway City Council in the Nov. 6 election.

He says he is running to ensure that the city continues to support Walter Bradley Park, the renovation of which he has spearheaded. He filed for council on February 19, six weeks before Mayor Grayson 
Vandegrift and the council named him Midway Citizen of the Year for his work on the park.

Holloway, 63, was born in Texas and received fine-arts degrees from Trinity University in San Antonio. He and his wife Patricia moved to Midway in 2011, when they married; they live in the 100 block of East Stephens Street.

Holloway spent 35 years with the University of Kentucky as a professor, specializing in theatre design. He was also a professional stagehand, and president of the stagehands’ union’s Lexington local, supervising work on concerts, theatre productions, stadium shows, and arena events. He described the work as “industrious” and “creative.”

That also describes his volunteer work on the revitalization and expansion of Walter Bradley Park. The structure of the park board, with one member serving as manager, was made with him in mind.

In declaring Holloway Citizen of the Year, Vandegrift presented him with a 1925 railroad light. "You've been the guiding light on that train," he said.

Holloway said the work sprouted from his desire to use his skills to help the community and a park that needed it. He has been park manager for three years and says he has done or overseen $30,000 worth of work on the park, including several bridges, and has plans for much more. He would like to see a “box car” stage that looks like an old train car station built for shows and movies that would bring people to the area and provide leisure activities for local families.

Holloway also wants to see a quarter-mile walkway of concrete and rock that would offer more reliable access than the current mulch path during sloppy conditions, which he said occur about 30 days a year.

Blighted property such as collapsing buildings, left for demolition by neglect, are an issue for the city. Holloway said he would like to see Midway’s “former glory” shine through with new building projects, and he favors tougher property-maintenance ordinances, such as doubling the property tax on blighted property, to hold building owners accountable.

In an interview, the candidate disagreed with the recent property tax decrease, saying it was too much, if not unnecessary. “We need to be sure we pay for things,” he said, adding that the city’s surplus should be spent on existing issues. 

Holloway would like to see a four-way stop at his corner, where Stephens Street meets Winter Street. Speeding is a constant problem in the area and he says, “If you have to stop there, you’ll go slower through the rest of town.” State officials are unlikely to approve such a sign because Winter Street, US 62, is a state and federal highway.

Holloway said he is not interested in the position for the pay ($200 a month, up from the current $50 as of 2019) because he has made his money and retired with it, but said the raise was a much needed reward for those who dedicate the time and effort to the council.

Several times in the interview, Holloway said, “Most things in life are not just conceived of, they are refined.” He said that  can be applied to many aspects of being a city council member, because a member must be willing to see the faults that exist, plan for a better future and make change.

John McDaniel, a Midway fixture, wants a second council term

By Alex Otte
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

John McDaniel, whose personal history and family name are well known in Midway, is on the ballot for a second two-year term on the City Council. He wants to continue a form of public service that is still relatively new to him, and said that he is running re-election because “It’s fun.”

On May 22, McDaniel ran third in the three-way Democratic primary for Woodford Midway-area magistrate on the Woodford County Fiscal Court, which may have raised questions about his dedication to the council job. (The filing deadline for council was Aug. 14.). He said he ran simply because he “didn’t think the person that was in there was doing a good job.”

McDaniel said Magistrate Linda Popp had “done a lot for Midway, but when she got in that environment, she didn’t focus too much on Midway.”

McDaniel has always called Midway home, and remembers watching it change and grow over his 69-year lifetime.

“I remember when this was a store,” he said as he sat for an interview in the back of of Midway’s City Hall building. “This is where you bought your shells for a rifle.”

McDaniel’s grandfather was a police officer in Midway for 37 years,. and his father was the Midway police chief for 35 years.

John William McDaniel III said he first resisted a career in law enforcement, and got an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, but medical reasons kept him out of the Army. He became a Midway patrolman in 1970 and served for 12 years until switching to a career in corrections in 1982 and spending three years as a corrections officer at the Fayette County Detention Center.

After an unsuccessful race for Woodford County jailer, McDaniel tried his hand at business, but chronic back trouble limited his ability to travel and he sold his three businesses in 1994, he said. From 2004 through 2011, McDaniel operated the Thoroughbred Theatre with his brother, Jim.

McDaniel and Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift were members of the merchants’ association when they were in business on Main Street and have always worked well together, McDaniel said.

“This council has been so neat,” he said. “That’s why our council meetings have been so short. We study our material beforehand and there isn’t much conflict.”

But the council has disagreed about how to deal with lighted property, such as the old Masonic hall at 116 E. Main St. Vandegrift has proposed a tougher ordinance and an enforcement board to crack down on owners who don’t maintain their property.

McDaniel said, “All of us have gone to several workshops to see what other cities are doing about blighted property and I think all of us are in favor of seeing if there’s something we can do about blighted property. We want to do what’s best for Midway.”

He said some Central Kentucky towns have excellent plans of what to do about blighted property and have executed them well, but those plans would not work for a small town such as Midway.

McDaniel said his priority is to bring the town’s infrastructure up to date, a goal he has been passionate about, to the point of witnessing markings and repairs. McDaniel said he would like to continue the work the council and Vandegrift have started on water and sewer lines, and to continue work on the sidewalks.

McDaniel said would like to see the Midway Business Association come in and bring together all of the town organizations, as Bardstown does. This new group would be separate from the business association, and self-supporting, he said.

McDaniel was married for 12 1/2 years, welcomed two daughters, and lives n the 100 block of West Stephens Street. His oldest daughter and her roommate were carried off by a tornado over 14 years ago. Her roommate was killed, and his daughter was left paralyzed, later resulting in the loss of a leg. When The Homeplace at Midway opened, McDaniel was able to move his daughter there so that the family could remain close and visit often, he said.

Logan Nance wants city to do more to fix sidewalks

By Ana Neal
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

People go into politics for a lot of reasons, but the reason Logan Nance gives is quite small. Nance, 31, said his motivation to run for Midway City Council was his two-year-old daughter. Nance said after she was born he began to get more invested in the future of Midway.

Nance has lived in Midway for three years with his wife, Samantha, in the 100 block of Coach Station Road. They have a two-year-old daughter, Olivia, and another on the way. Now, he says he’s ready to show this new generation “what servant leadership is really about.”

Although Nance is a political newcomer, he knows a thing or two about public service. He is a six-year veteran of the U.S. Army and was in Intelligence for some of that time. He was also deployed to Afghanistan for a year and attached to the 82nd Airborne Division.

Nance now works for Scholastic, the largest children’s book publisher in the world, as a regional representative, a job in which he says he enjoys working to promote literacy.

He says he has always “been a proponent of public service,” and felt that familiar call of duty – another reason he decided to run for city council.

“I want to make sure the Midway that we love is protected,” he said, and for him that means protecting the surrounding farmland.

“A huge part of our community is agri-tourism, the natural beauty of the region,” he said, “and I want to make sure we’re protecting that and not trying to develop it.”

The council has zoning authority only inside the city limits, but it can influence the county comprehensive plan that is revised every five years, most recently this year. Council members serve two-year terms.

While attending the University of Kentucky, where he earned a degree in political science, Nance interned at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. He is a native of rural Western Kentucky.

Another issue Nance says he would tackle is affordable housing. He said the council needs to look at areas around Midway and on the town side of the interstate to find properties that would make for suitable townhomes.

Nance was asked what he would’ve done if he had run for the council and been elected two years ago. “I would’ve been a little more aware of what we were using some of our tax dollars for. I’d like to have seen some more beautification of some areas,” he said.

“Mainly I’d like to see some of our sidewalks repaired around downtown and just make sure that we’re progressing responsibly, make sure we don’t get too big before we’re ready to.”

Last year the city began helping property owners replace bad sidewalks, targeting the most dangerous.

“I think the city needs to take a more active role to make sure the sidewalks near downtown are repaired,” Nance said. “They are dangerous and a potential liability to the city, especially with so many tourists coming to our town.”

When it comes to big issues like blighted property, Nance said the council needs to set a precedent for how it’s handled and how many notices are sent to violators. He said enforcement should be up to the proposed Code Enforcement Board instead of the council because it would create “a conflict of interest . . . We need committees that have no vested interest, so they can look at things and come back to the council with what they find.”

If elected Nov. 6, Nance says, he will also focus on repairing infrastructure and making sure tax revenue is being used responsibly.

Veteran public servant Southworth says this would be last term

By Hannah Woosley
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

After regularly attending over two decades of city council meetings in Versailles and Midway and serving three terms on the Midway council, Bruce Southworth hopes his experience will earn him one last two-year-term on the council.

Southworth retired in 2011 after 27 years of public service. He was water-treatment plant operator in Georgetown for six years, wastewater-treatment plant operator in Midway for 11 years and city administrator for Versailles for several years.

Because he received the most votes in the last2014 election, he serveds as the mayor pro tem, filling in when the mayor iwas absent.

Southworth wants to make clear that if he is re-elected, his next term on the council will be his last. He said he believes others should have a chance to serve, too. He also said he will probably not run for any other office.

Southworth has been the leading opponent of the proposed three-person code enforcement board that would oversee blighted property offenses, under a property-maintenance ordinance that Mayor Grayson Vandegrift proposed more than a year ago.

He thinks the council should be responsible for addressing such issues, not another board. “I think sometimes government has overreach,” said Southworth, “On top of that, if you’re going to appoint a board for a job [city council] is supposed to be doing, that’s kind of the way I look at it.”

Council Member Johnny Wilson, who is not seeking re-election, disagrees with Southworth.  “I don’t know anything about [building inspection]. You need people with experience,” he said, citing the advantage of having individuals who would be familiar with complaints brought before them, and the council should ultimately be responsible for the decision for what happens to blighted properties.

Serving on the council when the 20-year wastewater plant review occurs next year is one of Southworth’s main priorities. Over the last term, he been vocal about the need to repair and upgrade sewage systems.

At a council meeting in August, Mayor Grayson Vandegrift suggested that he would ask the council for more than the $20,000 originally planned for sewer repairs. Southworth supported his suggestion, stating that, “We need something to address it overall,” instead of slight repairs overtime, he said in an interview.

Advancing the Midway Station industrial park is also at the top of his priority list, Southworth said in an interview. He said he wants to see Midway Station grow and develop and keep infrastructure upgraded.

When asked if the council did, or didn’t do, something he would’ve done differently, Southworth said the council mainly agrees on everything. He said he thinks Midway is on the right course and the council is working well together.

Southworth, 62, is divorced and lives in the 200 block of East Stephens Street. He said he hopes to get the chance to serve two more years on the council.

“I just want to thank all the people that voted for me in the past and I hope they’ll give me a chance to serve two more years,” he said, and added, “and then I’ll be out of their hair.”

Librarian Stacy Thurman wants to expand her public service

By Sierra McLean
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Stacy Thurman, manager of the Midway library, is looking to serve the community in a bigger way by becoming a city council member. Thurman has lived in Midway for 10 years and says she has a “passion for community service.”

The issues that the city needs to focus on, Thurman says, are affordable housing and reliable child care. She says she does not want to see another neighborhood built, but wants to help develop more affordable housing.

“I would work with individuals and neighborhood associations to find viable infill lots and develop housing that is affordable, not cheap, and that fit with the existing infrastructure and landscape,” she said.

Thurman acknowledged that the council has been trying to focus on reliable child care and said that she “would continue to support that.”

Thurman said the city should create neighborhood associations and a youth sports league, and the council could find ways to “better communicate with the Midway Business Association.”

Thurman said her passion for community service would make her a good council member. “I think my strengths lie in my ties with the community and being able to make connections with people that maybe have not been heard in the past.”

Asked who didn’t have a voice, she said, “I just think there are people in Midway who aren’t always considered, who don’t speak up but still have needs as members of our community.”

She said council members are “very accessible,” but thinks there may be a better way to communicate with neighborhoods and residents.

Thurman says she enjoys creating new relationships and has recently gotten more interested in local government and thought, “This would be a good way for me to take my service to another level.”

This is her first run for an office, but Thurman did apply to fill Libby Warfield’s council position after she passed away this past spring. “Maybe that sparked my interest,” she said. “My interest in local government has developed simultaneously with my personal investment in Midway.”

She said another reason for running is the “civically engaged, strong women in Midway… There are many women, pastors of churches, business owners, community activists, and so many other that help our community in ways that residents don’t even realize.”

Last spring, Thurman completed Leadership Woodford County, a nine-month program that informs leaders in the community about issues facing the county.

Asked if the city council should have done something differently in the past two to four years, Thurman said, “I’m not running because I’m upset with how the way things have been done, by any means. I think that it’s good to have new people on the council. I think that many of them have had several terms and it’s good to have some turnover and some new faces.”

She said she has worked with all the council members and knows they “have a difficult job.” She said that she is not “coming in and saying I’m going to make all these changes and make everything grand.”

Thurman is a member of the Midway Woman’s Club and is an active member of the Midway Christian Church. She also tries to help out with the church’s monthly community dinners.

Thurman graduated from Madison Central High School, and from Berea College with a degree in art studio, as inspired by her grandmother.

But she “quickly learned two things,” she said. “It’s difficult to make a living as an artist, and I also have a passion for public service.”

Thurman earned her master’s degree in library science from the University of Kentucky in 2015.
Thurman lives on the 100 block of Old Towne Walk in Northridge Estates. She and her husband, Ian Thurman, who is from Versailles and works for the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, have two children, Clara, 7, and Chase, 12.

Thurman said Midway was the perfect fit for her family because “it was close to grandparents and friends.” She added, “We both love small towns and found Midway charming and friendly. And we liked being close to Lexington, Versailles and Frankfort.”

Thurman said that her daughter has been “very interested in the political process” and attended a council meeting.

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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