The Danville City Commission candidates who participated in a forum Monday agreed that the quality of life in the city is good but has the potential to become even better.
Incumbent Commissioners J.H. Atkins, Kevin Caudill and Ryan Montgomery along with candidates Janet Hamner, Paul Smiley and Paige Stevens participated in the forum sponsored by the Boyle County 9/12 Project. Commissioner Gail Louis, who is running for re-election, was out of town and did not participate.
Audience members wrote questions on cards. Moderator Tomas Mauricio, host of a weekday radio show with WHIR, sorted through the questions and posted selected ones to the candidates.
The first question of the evening was, “What would you do to improve the quality of life in Danville?”
“I would improve active and passive recreation for people of all ages,” Smiley said.
Montgomery said Danville has been recognized nationally several times as being a “great retirement community” but that the city needs to spend more time focusing on doing “everything we can do to bring industry and jobs” to the area.
Atkins said, “I will continue to ask the right questions so the citizens of this community can remain informed.”
Hamner emphasized the importance of elected officials supporting the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership but added that the “government can’t do everything.”
Caudill said jobs and economic development go hand-in-hand with a great quality of life and the city needs to be “ready to replace our aging infrastructure.”
Stevens said she would focus on being a cooperative team member with the other commissioners and the mayor.
Another question regarded what is the most important issue facing Danville in the next two years. Stevens, appointed by Mauricio to respond first to that question, said the biggest issue is “being sensitive to the needs and wants of all of the community.”
“I’m not sure we’ve included all stakeholders in decisions all the time,” she said.
Caudill again emphasized job creation as well as the proposed water treatment plant expansion project. He also would like to see “a more cordial commission.”
“I’m as much to blame (for the issue) as anybody, I’m sure,” he said.
Hamner said job creation is a key, because “everything else is driven by it.”
She added that the last budgeting cycle was not as open to the public as it had been in past years and that commissioners should return to meeting with department heads publicly regarding their annual budget needs.
Besides jobs creation, Atkins would like to provide more “educational empowerment” for residents of all ages. He also noted that the water plant expansion project is “very crucial” not only for Danville, but also for surrounding communities.
In addition, Atkins said the current commission has “not done enough to seek input from the community.”
Montgomery thinks city officials are making “great strides” on the water plant expansion and that the process itself will bring more jobs to the community.
He also noted that everyone running for office needs “to support the commission and the city whether we’re on the commission or not.”
Smiley said he was taught growing up that “water sustains life on this planet” and thus the water plant expansion is the biggest issue facing the city in the next two years.