VERSAILLES — Versailles City Council on Thursday selected Councilman Brian Traugott as the city's new mayor to succeed Fred Siegelman, who resigned July 1 to take a position with state government.
The council chose Louis "Sonny" Jones, a Versailles resident and a former Morehead State University regent, to fill the vacancy opened by Traugott's appointment as mayor.
The council was unable to reach consensus last week on a new mayor. On Thursday, council member Mary Ellen Bradley nominated Traugott as mayor, and Owen Roberts seconded. The three other council members — Ann Miller, Carl Ellis and Ken Kerkhoff — abstained from voting. However, their abstentions count as "yes" votes with the votes of Bradley and Roberts, city attorney Bill Moore said.
All three voted against Traugott last week, but they chose abstention Thursday as a way to move the council forward, Miller said. Under the law, if the council had not appointed a mayor, the appointment would have been made by Gov. Steve Beshear.
"We needed to resolve it (mayoral vacancy) here in our community," Miller said.
Traugott said he realized that he needs to "mend fences."
"I think I've got to try to identify some shared goals," Traugott said. "There are some things we disagree about. We've had some divided votes. But I think we've got to start off on the same foot. We've got to move forward. I think there are enough things we can agree on."
Traugott said he is pro-growth and favors a controversial plan to put a bypass road on the west side of Versailles. "The economy is on the verge of rebounding, and people are going to start stacking bricks and paving parking lots, and we need to be at the forefront. We can't miss the opportunity," he said.
Traugott, 34, joined the city council in January after winning his first election in November. His wife's name is Alaina.
A graduate of Woodford County High School, he holds an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Kentucky and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Louisville.
He was a member of the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission and chaired the committee that rewrote the comprehensive plan, a periodic statement of planning goals.
He is employed as a senior policy adviser in Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo's office. Traugott said he will go to a part-time schedule in the speaker's office now that he is mayor. He began his career on the staff of former state Rep. Joe Barrows and served on the staffs of several other legislators since.
Traugott said he intends to govern as though he is running for election. He said he will probably run for mayor in 2016. (Traugott had been treasurer for Siegelman's campaign years ago and ran Siegelman's re-election campaign in 2012.)
Siegelman, who had been mayor since 1999, resigned last week to start his new job as executive director of Kentucky Correctional Industries, the arm of the state Department of Corrections in which inmates make furniture, clothing and other products.
Versailles has a population of less than 9,000. The city budget includes a $9 million general fund and a $7.4 million enterprise fund that covers operations of the water and sewer systems.
Ellis, who nominated Jones as a new council member, said Jones has served as a bank director and an account executive with United Healthcare, and as president of the Morehead State University Alumni Association.