With a 40 percent margin, McCracken County and Paducah residents voted against merging their city and county governments yesterday.
In 2009, the city and county created a commission to investigate the pros and cons of merged government and to draft a proposal that would unify the two under one authoritative body. The proposed change has sharply divided residents, and even McCracken County Judge-Executive Van Newberry spoke out against it. He says,
“We studied it for two and a half years and really found no reason to do it. Most communities certainly have turned it down, and where it has been in what few communities, we really haven’t seen those things that the pro-merger people were calling for.”
“Those things” according to pro-merger organization Paducah McCracken United included an increase in the area’s population count that could have put it in a better position to attract major employers. Spokesman John Williams, Jr., says the referendum’s negative outcome wouldn’t help the city and county solve its problems. He says,
“The election today doesn’t make the issues that we were trying to address go away in any way, and especially if we have a closing of the USEC plant, this issue will most definitely be in public conversation, if not on the ballot, pretty soon.”
Williams believed residents might be voting on the issue again in the next few years.