Mayoral Candidates Discuss Trust, Their Strengths
By Easton Sanders
PADUCAH - Paducah's Mayoral candidates gathered Thursday to make their case to voters in their first debate of the November election.

Project Speak Life, a local non-profit, hosted the debate on the campus of West Kentucky Community and Technical College. 

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

One of the questions they received explored their thoughts on how to create trust and integrity with the black community.

Abraham shared that you have to actively pursue that community.

He said, "You have to build a relationship before there can be any trust. You don't trust folks you don't have a relationship with." 

"One of the things that I've tried to get going, and if I'm elected Mayor that we will have, is a diversity group. We will go down the road in Nashville when they have career days and present Paducah in a way of this is a great place to be. The cost of living is low, we want you to be a part of what we're doing there." Abraham continued, "Having job fairs on campus at city hall, I think that's a lazy approach. Wanting folks to come to you. We haven't really put together a plan to go out and actively recruit minorities. But we want the best people, and the only way to do that is to present yourself as serious about incorporating those talents within city hall."

Thomas says the answer is simple.

"I believe all it takes is getting out there in the African-American community and showing them that I will be the mayor for them and for everybody. But it takes that step of getting out there, getting in their community, finding out what they want and need from the government and from their city, and it's really that simple." Thomas said, "We can't sit in city hall and just, you know, take written-in notes of what they want. I will get out in that community, walk with them, talk with them, and see what they want and need in our city."

Bray shared that you have to prove yourself to that community.

He said, "Establishing trust and showing integrity is really all about getting to know people. It's getting out there and doing what you actually say you're going to do. It's really putting your money where your mouth is, it's following through." 

"All of my life I've been a person that when I committed to somebody to do something, I almost always follow through." Bray continued, "It's very important, especially in establishing trust with this community, that when you look at somebody and you say that I'm going to do something, that you do it."

The candidates were also asked where they think they could have the greatest impact on the community regarding education, employment, or health and wellness if elected.

Abraham believes his greatest strength would be in his ability to motivate people, and shared an analogy to put it into perspective.

"At the beginning of the football season, the coach asked the question, how many people want to play for the state championship? Everybody in the room raises their hands. So how many people in this city want better physical health or some of the other things mentioned? Are we willing to do what it takes to get to where we want to be? That's the question." Abraham continued, "A lot of times we can do some things that don't cost a whole lot of money when it comes to your health. So that would be one of the things that I bring to the table. I've always been that way and I've always been well received."

Thomas says it wouldn't be imperative to focus on just one.

"Paducah's a family and with a family, you've got to face all of these issues, and I think whenever we get to one of those issues that's where the focus should be." He said, "As mayor, I'm supposed to be a leader, so the people should look up to me when it comes to those situations and I believe that I will be prepared for that."

Bray agreed that all three areas are important, but shared that his forte would be with jobs.

"The area I would have the most impact would be in jobs, and better jobs. That would be through the attraction of new businesses coming into the area, it would be getting involved with the businesses that are already there. You know, two-thirds of new jobs are created by companies already here, so we have to create and maintain an environment for those companies to grow, and to want to grow, and to take any barriers down for them to grow. And the third very important point of jobs is really helping entrepreneurs get into business. Entrepreneurs in any community are very very important. "

In his closing statement, Abraham says sitting in the mayor's seat would be a blessing that he would treat with the integrity it deserves, saying that he would ensure that the city functions the way it's supposed to function.

"That's not just a coat of paint, the older I get I pay more attention to what people do and not so much of what they say."

Thomas shared that he has a focus on what the people in the city want, saying it's time to put Paducah first. 

"Let's balance the budget, fix our roads, fix our sewers, bring activities for all, especially the youth, and I want to develop the southside because it's been ignored for far too long." He said, "I want to give the people their voice back because it's been taken away."

In his closing statement, Bray said he believes Paducah is at a crossroads.

"Our population has been slowly declining since 1960 and I think strong leadership is required, and it's required now." Bray continued, "A vote for me is a vote for change, it's a vote for leadership, and it's a vote for a better Paducah."

You can see the full video of the debate below.

Published 11:00 PM, Thursday Jul. 30, 2020
Updated 02:33 PM, Friday Jul. 31, 2020



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