Hear from the candidates: county clerk, mayor and city councils

Published 10:44 am Friday, November 4, 2022

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The General Election is scheduled for Nov. 8, and in an effort to help inform the public, the Enterprise sent out a questionnaire designed to help the public know more about each candidate. Every reasonable attempt was made to reach all candidates, however many did not respond. Every candidate who responded will be included here. The answers have been edited for spelling and punctuation only.

Each candidate was sent the following questions in the same order:

1. Tell us about your background (300 characters or less)

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2. Why are you the best candidate for this office? (600 characters or less)

3. What do you think is the most pressing issue affecting us in this election cycle? (300 characters or less)

4. How would you address this issue in your elected office? (600 characters or less)

Harlan County Clerk

Donna Hoskins (D)

1. I have lived in Harlan County all my life, my parents were Alan and Georgia Hoskins. My brother worked with U.S. Steel. I have worked in the County Clerk’s Office both as a deputy clerk and as clerk since 2011. Working in both positions I have obtained the experience and knowledge for running the office.

2. As clerk, I am in charge of a six million dollar budget, holding all elections, and having delinquent property tax sales. I get the tax rates and print real estate tax bills so all taxing districts can have operating money. We register boats and vehicles, keep records, deeds, mortgages, wills, marriage licenses and many other things.

3. First and foremost is obtaining election poll workers and having them attend a training session. I must make sure the ballots are correct and the equipment goes to all the right voting places, keep the people informed about filing dates, absentee voting and other procedures.

4. I will continue to work diligently to interest people in working elections, and keep them working smoothly and following state and federal laws.

Ashley Sullivan (R)

1. Currently operating my own business for 9 years and counting. At the Bank of Harlan, I handled large amounts of currency daily and provided excellent customer service as a bank teller. Business background extends to J.P. Morgan Chase Bank where I maintained records and secured private information.

2. It’s time for a change and I would be just that! My vast business background, customer service, and personal characteristics would enhance our County Clerk’s office in many ways. I would work continuously to improve the clerk’s office and myself if elected to provide a positive environment and experience for everyone. I will bring a fresh vision to the clerk’s office focusing on the people of Harlan and their needs.

3. The most pressing issue would be overall efficiency. The clerk’s office needs to function to the best of its ability with the customer’s needs in mind within the limits of the law. Find ways to address the long lines and become more modern to help serve our community in the most efficient way.

4. By focusing on the people of Harlan and listening. Their #1 request is a more friendly/welcoming environment so I would start there. Then I’d work on ways to help shorten lines and provide a faster service such as all hands on deck and access to documents online. I’d bring user friendly modernization through multiple outlets of technology to provide more information to the public and online document services. I’d also address the need for additional hours to help our working class. And continuously challenge the office to find ways to improve, stay current and provide excellent service to all.

Harlan Mayor

Joe Meadors

1. I am a native of Harlan and am a graduate of Harlan High School and Georgetown College. I have been married to my wife Reecie since 1977. We have 3 children, Ryan of Harlan, Jared of Lexington, and Kara of Harlan and two grandchildren. I have been employed with state government since 1972.

2. My 50 years of public service with Kentucky State Government have given me a broad understanding of the problems facing our residents and local business community. We face enormous issues as we transition from a coal-based economy with its historical boom or bust cycles to a more diverse economy featuring eco-tourism and local entrepreneurship and at the same time seeking investments in today’s high-teck economy. We must embrace the few high-paying coal-related jobs which still exist while at the same time preparing our young people for careers in other vocations with promising futures.

3. When I ran for Mayor in November of 2018, I ran on a platform to clean up our community. Our downtown business district had become a ghost town and all over Harlan Commercial buildings, homes, and apartment buildings went unmaintained. While much progress has been made, much more needs to be done.

4. The city under my administration has instituted yearly spring cleanups and torn down several unsafe commercial and residential structures while many others were repaired. I have overseen the paving of numerous streets in cooperation with our state and county partners. New sidewalks and repaving are scheduled for completion in 2023. I can sense a new spirit emerging in our downtown area with the opening of the Harlan County Brewing Company and othe renovation efforst haking place along Central and Main Streets.

  Dakota Hensley

1. I grew up in Baxter and lived in Wallins before moving to Harlan 5 years ago. I graduated from Harlan County High School in 2017. I’ve been a writer for a couple of years now. I’ve been published by the American Conservative and The Federalist among others.

2. We have big problems. We don’t need small town solutions. By that, I mean we need big ideas and policies that can really address the problems we face. We need a mayor who treats it as a job, not a hobby. I’ll dedicate 100% of my time to being mayor. That’s why I think I’m the best candidate for Mayor of Harlan. I have the ideas and policies that can make Harlan the city I know it can be. It can be a prosperous city, a city of the future. We don’t need to accept our drastic economic decline as just the way life is. We can fight it and come out better than before.

3. The lack of jobs and economic activity. Our downtown is desolate and barren. We’re speeding towards economic death and no one’s doing anything about it. At the forum, we hear vague statements about infrastructure but no one ever started a business because the city had good water lines.

4. We need both big businesses and small businesses. But both have one problem: lack of capital. For big businesses, we need a business incubator which will provide funding, commercial space, mentorship, etc. for agricultural and tech startups. By agricultural startups, I mean commercial farms. Our tech startups will probably be in biotech and fintech. For small businesses, we need a small business incubator which will do the same but for small businesses. We also need to attract immigrants who will create hundreds of local jobs, small businesses, and breathe new life into our community.

Harlan City Council

Charles Bailey

1. I have been volunteering and serving the public my whole adult life and look forward to continue to do so if elected

2. I have a desire to help and serve the community I live in.

3. While ever city has issues I think our most pressing one would be drug use and homelessness.

4. Drugs have affected ever family in one way or another. We must start with prevention and education. I would encourage the city to work with the school district in any way possible to try and combat drug use before it starts.

Tyler Frazier

1. I was born and raised in Harlan. I am the son of Ron and Sue Frazier. I received my Bachelors degree in science from LMU and a Doctorate in Pharmacy from East Tennessee State University. I am currently serving the community as a pharmacist at the Harlan Medical Center Pharmacy.

2. I am a lifetime resident of Harlan and I have the city of Harlan’s best interests at heart. My goal is to keep progress coming to the city and to be an advocate for each citizen of the city.

3. I feel like the most pressing issue affecting us is economic and drug problems.  Problems like unemployment and the continued deterioration of our downtown area.

4. Work with current building owners to help get their properties up to code and help find small businesses to fill the spaces.  Work as a business incubator to promote our small business market.

Benham City Council

Bradley Sherman

1. I am a husband, a father, and a Jesus follower.  I am from the Tri-Cities and proud of it – I love this place.  I am not a politician, but I do believe I am called  to serve others and to be a help to this area.  I feel led in this season to serve the people here by running for city council.

2. This is my first venture into the political arena, but I am a lifelong resident here and have worked in the community in numerous capacities.  I want to do all that I can, with God’s wisdom directing me, to ensure that Benham is still around for my grandkids to one day call home.  I am a HR Manager by trade, and want to use those same relationship-building skills and business acumen to work with others to build a better Benham and a better Tri-City area.  This is an incredible place to raise a family, and I want to ensure my kids and yours have that same option one day.

3. The economy is obviously a huge concern for everyone right now, and that is certainly true in Benham.  We need to find ways to attract sustainable business here.  We live in the most beautiful place on earth, we just need to find ways to showcase that for the world to see.

4. I would hope to develop a plan to make starting a business in Benham, and in the Tri-Cities, attractive and viable.  I think cleaning up what is here is a huge first step. If you visit other small towns in our area that are successful, you will see that it all started by making “Main Street” a place people want to be.  Restaurants, local arts, and communities are thriving, in towns just like ours not an hour from our doorstep.  I want to learn from them and see how we can breathe new life into our area again, to make our town as beautiful and lively as the mountains that surround us.