The two female candidates for Paducah Mayor carried the non-partisan election results in the Kentucky primary. Brandi Harless had the most support with 2,177 votes. Incumbent Mayor Gayle Kaler was slightly behind with 1,816 votes. Kaler says she is not surprised that she and Harless are the two candidates moving on to the general election.
“I think one of the things I have been successful here in Paducah is inspiring younger people to jump out there and take leadership roles. I have worked with a group called progress Paducah and Brandi was one of those,” says Kaler.
Kaler says that same energy that inspired Harless is what she wants to continue to encourage in the development of the city during the next four years if she is re-elected.
“I feel like since I have been Mayor there has been a new energy in Paducah and we have been able to accomplish some good things. One of the things I want to continue on is increasing entrepreneurship and bringing in new business opportunities,” says Kaler.
Kaler is proud that during her six years as Commissioner and four years as Mayor that she has been able to “revitalize” Lower Town and increase “home ownership” without having to borrow any money.
“Do you know that everything that we have been able to accomplish we have done we have within our budget, we have not had to borrow money. We raised property taxes 1 cent per one hundred in the last four years since I have been Mayor and everyone on the Commission voted for that,” says Kaler.
After the primary election results revealed Harless as the front runner in the upcoming general election, Harless announced that regardless of what happens in November she is empowered by the conversation her campaign has created.
“As I told Allan Rhodes when he begged me to do this, you know if I win or lose, it doesn’t matter--to me it was about starting a conversation that we haven’t had in awhile, and I think we have started it and they are hearing us loud and clear,” says Harless.
That conversation Harless says, is about how Paducah can move forward, and do so with “fiscal responsibility.”
“We really need to talk about how we are spending our money and more than that we need a vision. We need a vision for where we are going and we all need to be on the same page of where we are going and what it takes to get there,” says Harless.
Harless says she and Mayor Kaler’s skill sets are what set them apart in their abilities to take Paducah forward.
“I called Gayle before I announced I was running and I told her that I respected her and that I was going to take the high road the whole way and that my running did not mean that I thought that she was a bad person by any means. But I do think there is a skill set difference. You know my professional career, I have a master’s degree, I have lead non profit organizations and I have now started my own business in healthcare. Our skill sets are just different and I think that is what is needed for the future of Paducah and I think that is the skill set that I have,” says Harless.
Kaler says she wants to continue her revitalization projects across Paducah.
“You know that you have been successful when you see young families and all that new energy within a neighborhood….We have a $23 million dollar hotel and two new quilt shows that bring $23 million dollars into the community, since I have been mayor we have been able to do a lot and I want to continue that into the next four years, “ says Kaler.
Candidates Arthur Baskin and Buzz VonTesmer received less than 20 percent of the votes and will not move forward in the general election in November.