Mayoral Candidates Discuss COVID-19, Development
By West Kentucky Star Staff
PADUCAH - Paducah's Mayoral candidates met once again Thursday to make their case to voters.

The Paducah-McCracken County NAACP hosted the debate at the Clemens Fine Art Center on the campus of West Kentucky Community and Technical College.

George Bray, Commissioner Richard Abraham, and write-in candidate Dujuan Thomas discussed a wide range of topics.

One question they received explored how each candidate plans to help develop and invest in underrepresented communities and neighborhoods in Paducah if elected Mayor.

Abraham said he believes the Southside of Paducah will receive "a lot of love" over the next several years.

"Let's sit down with our planning department, let's sit down with the neighbors in the community, and let's talk about what's going on, what they would like to see. Then for us to do our job. What's our job? Sidewalks, gutters, flooding, those types of things." Abraham continued, "There's a process, but I think it's time for the Southside to get some love."

Abraham believes that once the new commission is elected, the Southside will get the attention it deserves.

Bray suggested working with Midtown Alliance and involving the Southside community's residents.

"I would like to work with that organization for them to have more influence in other areas of the city." Bray said, "Secondly, anything we do on the Southside has to really emanate from the Southside. Meaning that the business owners and the people that live out there have to come together and help us make decisions."

Bray said the city can lead and help to make decisions, but "the group of people that make their living and live out there have to be part of the solution."

According to Thomas, the discussion revolving around the Southside shows the importance of voting.

He said, "You're a product of your environment, and I believe that refurbishing the dilapitated buildings that are scattered all around that area needs to be a priority." 

Thomas also suggested meeting with business owners and asking them why they've allowed their buildings to look the way they do. According to Thomas, if the meeting doesn't result in a solution, then he might decide to enact imminent domain to demolish the building and "do what's best for the community."

The candidates were also asked how they would support Paducah's residents in the wake of the pandemic.

Abraham said that as an elected official, he would encourage Paducah's residents to support small businesses in the community. He spoke about the $150,000 in grants for small businesses, and the $100,000 match that was passed on top of that.

"Those are the type of things that has to be done in a situation like this. We all have a part to play. The city has a part to play and I think we played that part. A lot of the community stood up and helped out." He continued, "That's where my focus is, making sure the city is doing what we can, then you look out and see other partners in the community step up and do some things. That's when our city works best, when we're all taking responsibility for where we are at that moment."

According to Bray, as Mayor he would advocate for those most affected by the pandemic by supporting and continuing to support United Way.

Bray also spoke about his restaurant worker fund 'Paducah's Tip Jar'.

He said, "I worked tirelessly for months trying to raise money, and we ended up raising over $53,000 for people who were most affected by the pandemic. I understand how that affects people and as Mayor I will continue to advocate in that manor."

Thomas pledged to donate his first year's salary as Mayor back to Paducah's residents for COVID-19 relief.

"Following that, I'm going to make sure that I'm a leader they can look up to and that they can depend on during this crisis.  Because COVID's not over and we don't know how much longer it may last, so I will make sure that I am that leader they can depend on and will guide them in the right direction."

You can see a full video of the debate below.

Published 11:00 PM, Thursday Sep. 24, 2020
Updated 06:53 PM, Friday Sep. 25, 2020



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