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Paducah mayor

Staff report

Brandi Harless

1. Tell us about you (including but not limited to personal, educational, and professional information):

Growing up between my mom's farm in Ballard County, my dad's car business in Marshall County, and my grandparents' mobile home business in Paducah has made me an adaptive and flexible person who is willing to tackle challenges and ask the hard questions. I moved home to Paducah seven years ago after going to school and working in Nashville, Boston and D.C. I earned a bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University and a Master's degree from Boston University School of Public Health.

My life and career experiences have prepared me to serve Paducah with bold and visionary leadership. I've worked in global capacities with Harvard University and in D.C. at a government contracting organization. Locally, I've helped entrepreneurs launch their dreams, expand access to health care for our region, and have served on numerous nonprofit boards helping to provide services to those who need them most.

My husband and I love to hike, mountain bike, and camp. I am now the network director for Purchase Area Health Connections, a regional health coalition working to improve health services and minimize duplication. I'm also co-founder of Personal Medicine Plus, a software company helping physicians provide mobile prevention services to their patients.

2. What makes you the best qualified candidate?

Paducah is at a tipping point. We will either tip forward into real progress or we will stay stagnant or perhaps tip backwards. In order to tip forward, we need the right leadership in place. My leadership skills and professional experience have prepared me to be that kind of leader. I have a strong track record in building consensus, winning funding for projects, managing budgets and leading organizations through growth opportunities.

The modern economy is demanding new thinking. In order to compete in the modern economy, we need a leader with a track record navigating transitions and who understands how to carefully move us in that direction.

I am a strategic doer. I do not make decisions without careful consideration and due diligence from all sides of an issue. This is what makes me the best candidate for mayor.

3. What issue will be your first priority if you are elected?

Finish what's been started and create the action plan for the next decade. Every trip needs a roadmap and we don't have a clear one in Paducah. We have studied our problems and written down plans, but we still don't know where we are going as a community. I will work with staff and other commissioners to establish the roadmap that will drive our decision-making. Then I will work to follow through, ensuring that things like infrastructure, neighborhoods, fiscal responsibility, poverty, and the modern economy are included. We will balance this against our budget and lay out a path to leverage other funding sources.

My approach is not to start from scratch. We have had too many great leaders pave the way to get us where we are today. We have all the pieces we need to create a vibrant roadmap to Paducah's bright future.

4. What long-term issues concern you the most?

Infrastructure, neighborhoods, fiscal responsibility and the modern economy. The role of the city government is to create the environment for which citizens live well, build businesses and thrive. For this reason, my time as mayor will be focused on 1. bringing our infrastructure up to 21st century standards, 2. creating business friendly services that attract new business owners back to our city, 3. creating an actionable long-term plan for which to spend our financial resources while leveraging public private partnerships and funding from sources other than taxes, and 4. working closely with economic development partners to take advantage of the modern economy for which Paducah is highly qualified to participate.

We have all the makings to be competitive in the modern economy. With over 400 students set to graduate from our engineering program and an entire neighborhood dedicated to creative designers and thinkers. Corporations and small businesses all over the nation are looking for the skills we have to offer. As a small town, it's up to us to package what we have in a way that adds value to potential business recruits.

Gayle Kaler

1. Tell us about you (including but not limited to personal, educational, and professional information):

I was elected Paducah's mayor in November 2012. Previously I served three terms as city commissioner beginning in 2007.

Before my service in local government, I opened a business, Chantillies Salon, in Paducah, and have run my business successfully for over 45 years. I've served on numerous boards of great importance to Paducah, including, the Greater Paducah Sustainability (GPS)-Recycle Now, Paducah Rotary Club, Airport Board, Commissioners of Water Works, Lower Town Renaissance Association and the Paducah Riverfront Development Authority.

I reside in Lower Town with my husband, Andrew Kaler, and am a member of Fountain Avenue United Methodist Church. I have one daughter, Courtney Spencer, who attended the Paducah Public School System and graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Master's degree in mass communication planning. Courtney, her husband Jon, and their daughter Birdie live and work in Richmond, Virginia.

2. What makes you the best qualified candidate?

I created many wonderful initiatives in the city of Paducah including the Young Professionals Committee designed to promote discussion between professional businessmen and businesswomen in Paducah, and the Mayor's Anti-Bullying Task Force created to stop bullying in local schools.

I engage in problem solving. I have been a business owner in Paducah for 46 years. I know what it takes to keep the doors open. I led the charge in Paducah's endeavor to be accepted into the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. In 2014, Paducah became one of only 39 member cities globally and one of three cities within the United States to be accepted into the Creative Cities Network. This initiative has provided Paducah with the opportunity to collaborate and communicate on a global level.

3. What issue will be your first priority if you are elected?

My first priority will be working with the city manager and elected body to complete the projects that we have begun. Noble Park bank stabilization, Noble Park Tennis upgrades, City Hall phase one, Riverfront park and transient boat dock,Greenway Trail from Campbell Street to Jefferson, downtown development. Floodwall rehabilitation and decision on next neighborhood.

I'm also committed to creating opportunities for economic development in Paducah. I'm an advocate of using the arts and historic preservation as economic generators that continue to leverage Paducah's rich cultural heritage as downtown and riverfront development continues to flourish.

4. What long-term issues concern you the most?

Balancing resources with needs. Working with our partners to create more entrepreneurial opportunities especially for minority groups. Working with our businesses to encourage growth and therefore population.

I am aware of the challenges that we have in city government. I have built relationships with our county, state and federal leaders. I understand that it takes cooperation between partners to accomplish long term goals. I am dedicated to Paducah and the future success of Paducah. I ask for your vote on November 8.

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