Nicholasville resident Jesse Kennison said one of his primary reasons for seeking a seat on the city commission is to help wake up the downtown area.
“I am interested in Nicholasville and the downtown area, particularly,” he said. “We have a beautiful street and sidewalk setup now, and it’s a shame there’s so many vacant buildings downtown. I’m interested in trying to preserve the downtown area, and I’m wanting to build hometown pride and spirit that is Nicholasville.”
Kennison, 70, is originally form Nicholasville but moved away for his career before coming back home four years ago to enjoy his retirement.
Kennison said he brings to the table fresh ideas, such as holding monthly “jam sessions” to help improve communication between the residents and local officials.
“I’m thinking if we had a jam session once a month at different places throughout the city people could come and voice their opinion and understand better what is going on in the city government,” he said.
Kennison also said he believes in term limits, adding that if elected, he would only serve a maximum of two terms.
“I think we get somewhat stagnant when we look at people who have been in the same office 10 or 12 years,” he said. “A four-year hitch is either going to make a difference, or a difference isn’t going to occur.”
Kennison said that in light of the fact population growth is occurring, beefing up public-safety departments is among the greatest needs.
“Our police and fire are going to need the support of the commission to allow them to do what we need them to do,” he said. “We are a large town, and we are seeing things that are happening today that didn’t happen 20 years ago.”
Kennison said city leaders must keep tabs on the growth rate and make proactive plans to address needs.
“We really need to be considering what needs to be done to stay ahead of the growth and the problems that growth creates,” he said.
Kennison said new taxes and raising taxes is not the way to address revenue needs. Having businesses locate in the downtown area is a way to increase revenue to city government, Kennison said.
“If I’m successful in getting downtown rejuvenated, that would be one revenue possibility,” he said. “I would rather look closely at what needs to be deleted rather than raise taxes; I would fight tooth and toenail to keep taxes down.”
Kennison said a new city hall would be nice, but looking at the economy, it would be best to keep it on the back burner.
“We are functioning quite well the way we are currently operating,” he said. “With the economic times, it just wouldn’t be a prudent thing to do at this time.”
Kennison is the only city-commission candidate who supports the switch from the commission form to the council form of government.
“I started to research to see what was best for the city, and the better representation would be to go back to the city-council form,” he said.
Prior to retiring, Kennison worked as a school administrator and teacher in Oregon. This is his first time seeking public office.