Georgetown is preparing for a heated rematch between a former two-term mayor and the current mayor in November.
Mayor Karen Tingle-Sames fell behind in the May primary, receiving just 1,466 votes to former mayor Everette Varney's 2,841 votes. Al Catron, a retired Scott County Fire Department major, was eliminated in the primary when he received 961 votes.
Tingle-Sames, 47, served on the city council when Varney was mayor. She defeated him by 84 votes in the November 2006 election.
She said she expects a large turnout of voters supporting her in the November non-partisan race because they are concerned about wasteful spending.
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"I think there has been a shift in my support since the primary," Tingle-Sames said. "A positive shift."
Tingle-Sames said she's not finished working to resolve the city's financial problems.
Her opponent, former mayor Varney, 72, countered that Tingle-Sames has made bad decisions for the community, and he is confident he will maintain the support of voters.
"I have done nothing to make the people who supported me in May not support me on Nov. 2," he said.
Varney said he's concerned about Georgetown citizens' quality of life and fears that Tingle-Sames has compromised the safety of citizens. For example, he said emergency vehicles have not been purchased regularly and parts from other cars have been used to keep police vehicles operating.
The Royal Springs Federal Order of Police Lodge No. 59 has endorsed Varney. Tommy Cooper, its president, said he agrees that Tingle-Sames has put public safety at risk.
He said there's low morale among officers whose pay and benefits are not as good as other agencies.
Cooper said two police cruisers broke down and had to be towed while officers were on duty.
The Tingle-Sames administration purchased six police cars this summer after the primary, Tingle-Sames said. The city paid for the cars with cash, using $200,000 of a $500,000 surplus at the end of the fiscal year, she said.
The timing of the purchase was not political, she said.
The remaining money will be used toward the purchase of a fire truck at the end of this fiscal year, she said, emphasizing that the truck would be purchased with cash.
Paying down debt
Varney said Tingle-Sames' approach to making needed purchases is bad business and said the city's debt is well within an appropriate range for a city the size of Georgetown. Varney said he would continue to pay down the debt if he is elected in November.
"I can't see letting things around you fall apart or get in disrepair," Varney said. "You need to take care of your current needs currently."
Tingle-Sames said she has reduced the city's debt by 20 percent since she's been in office. The current debt is about $13 million. Tingle-Sames said the debt increased by $6 million when Varney was in office.
Voters will recognize in November that she has never wasted their tax dollars, she said, noting that the city's pool and pavilion, which was built under Varney's leadership, cost $2 million more than expected.
Varney questioned why Tingle-Sames would criticize something that has benefitted the citizens of Georgetown.
"It's a great facility, and it has added so much to the quality of life of our citizens," Varney said.
Debates vs. meetings
Tingle-Sames was a city council member for six of the eight years Varney served as mayor. He said it does not make sense that Tingle-Sames would criticize him for wasteful spending when the council decided how the money would be used.
Like many cities, Georgetown will continue to have economic problems over the next two years, Tingle-Sames said, and she has proven her ability to make the right economic decisions.
"I have been the right mayor at the right time for this city," Tingle-Sames said.
She said Varney has refused to debate issues with her since the primary. Varney said he prefers to meet people and answer questions at smaller neighborhood meetings.