Nicholasville Realtor, auctioneer and property manager Jonah Mitchell and Nicholasville Mayor Russ Meyer are running for the House 39 seat, vacant after Rep. Bob Damron decided to run for Jessamine County judge-executive.
Both have a history of community service in business groups and with civic causes. However, Meyer's experience in elective office during tough economic times has better prepared him to serve the legislative district, which also includes six precincts in Lexington along Nicholasville Road.
Former co-owner of the Connemara Golf Links and current owner of an insurance firm, Meyer served as city commissioner and two terms as vice mayor before being elected mayor in 2006.
He has practical, firsthand knowledge of how to work with a range of people to get things done and how to make tough decisions to keep government operating.
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During the Great Recession, he had to consolidate some city departments while avoiding layoffs; a 5 percent tax on liquor and beer helped keep police and fire departments staffed.
He spearheaded a joint planning effort among Jessamine, Nicholasville and Wilmore and found money to put a police officer in every school. Under his leadership, Nicholasville received grants to complete its downtown streetscape, repair the Riney B Dam and expand a wastewater treatment plant. He also was key to recruiting area hospitals to open urgent treatment centers in town.
His service on the Kentucky River Authority, the Bluegrass Area Development District, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Kentucky League of Cities gives him a broader perspective on regional and state infrastructure needs.
If elected, he hopes to speak out about how state policy and legislative inaction, on such things as the pension crisis, is squeezing our Main Streets. He also wants to push the legislature to find ways to attack the state's growing heroin problem and to expand broadband to aid in education and business development.
Both Meyer and Mitchell are socially conservative — pro-life and protective of Second Amendment rights.
Mitchell, howerver, is selling his conservative values as the primary reason to vote for him. And while he seems genuine in his worry about problems many working-class people face today, he struggles to outline what he actually wants to do to help them.
With all the challenges Kentucky faces, it's better to choose Meyer — someone who knows what he wants to do and has demonstrated an ability to do it.
The unendorsed candidate may submit a 250-word response by noon Tuesday.