By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Feb. 19, 2014 —
Olive Hill Mayor Kenny Fankell has confirmed that he will be vying for the mayor’s office in this fall’s general election.
In a recent interview with the Journal-Times, Fankell went on record for the first time about his intention to seek a full term as mayor.
“I’ve decided that I’m officially going to run for mayor. I’ve sent for my papers and I’ll be filing them soon,” he said.
The first-term mayor was appointed to the position in January of last year. The office became vacant when Danny Sparks resigned shortly after being arrested for trafficking in marijuana.
As the leading vote-getter in the 2012 City Council election, Fankell was a unanimous choice to succeed Sparks.
“It was a big undertaking to get a handle on everything going on here when I first stepped in,” said Fankell.
“I’m still finding out things I didn’t know,” he added.
Improving City Hall’s reputation in the community was one of Fankell’s most important mandates when he stepped into the position.
With the city embroiled in two high-profile class action lawsuits filed by residents, restoring faith in city government was at the top of his priority list from the first day.
“I believe we have really been able to improve the communication between City Hall and the community since I took office,” said Fankell.
Additionally, the departures of longtime City Clerk Cheri James, City Attorney George Hogg and City Foreman Eddie Reynolds have afforded Fankell the opportunity to leave his imprint on the city’s most important staff positions.
It’s not been all roses for Fankell, however. The city has been in the midst of a budget crisis throughout most of his tenure.
Those financial woes led to the institution of a widely unpopular occupational tax in an effort to right the city’s fiscal ship.
Fankell also is faced with the difficult task of finding a new location for the fire department and the city’s maintenance building, both of which are situated in a high-risk flood zone.
Even with difficulties, Fankell believes his first term in office has been successful.
“We’ve been able to finish much-needed improvements to our water and sewer systems in this past year,” he said.
“This is a part-time position but I spend a lot of hours here. I hope to get the opportunity to continue doing that and serving the people of Olive Hill for another four years,” the mayor added.
Joe Lewis can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 286-4201.