OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – Four candidates are running this year for Owensboro mayor.
Among them include current Mayor Tom Watson, and Dracin Williams.
“Right now, we are in a very good position, as good a position as I’ve seen our city government in a long time,” said Mayor Watson.
He didn’t originally plan to run for another four year term, but he changed his mind after the pandemic changed everything.
“When COVID hit, I just felt like there was no time to change the captain of the ship, so to speak,” he says.
He says one big accomplishment during this term was improving the city’s financial outlook, going from budget shortfalls in the tens of millions of dollars in 2017, to a surplus of a few million dollars thanks in part to a property tax increase.
“We did those things and continued to work hard. At the end of July 2019, we were supposed to be $3.4 million short and actually finished $2.4 million ahead,” Mayor Watson says.
He also cites working to add more police and firefighters, upgrading the city softball complex, and tearing down Gabe’s Tower as other accomplishments. If re-elected, Mayor Watson says he wants to keep working on getting the Mid-States Corridor running from Owensboro through Indiana, more economic development, especially near Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport, and getting a regional police academy built in Owensboro.
“We’re trying to figure out a way to get an academy here. We can take everybody west of Elizabethtown here,” he explained.
“Our city, just like most American cities, are struggling in many ways,” says Dracin Williams, who decided to run after seeing problems the city faces up close.
“I think one of the most prevalent issues I realize is that we’re struggling with this level of disconnection between not only our elected officials, but with each other as a community,” Williams says.
If elected, he says he wants to work to bring more high paying jobs to the city, make more investments in small businesses and increasing transparency.
“We can have a local office of an ombudsman that where the community and businesses can directly go to this office in order to report or to make complaints how local services are administered,” he explained.
Williams also wants to do more more to help young people get a college education, including starting a program helping students pay for college.
“You’re making an investment and you may not see the benefit of that in 2 years, 3 years, but if we want to attract those jobs that we say we want and need, it’s going to be imperative that the level of people educated increases,” says Williams.
(This story was originally published on October 27, 2020)