Mayoral candidates talk election issues prior to forum

Owensboro mayoral candidates are preparing for the upcoming Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce mayoral forum.

On Thursday, incumbent Mayor Tom Watson and mayoral challengers Larry Conder, Pam Smith-Wright and Dracin Williams will square off for a virtual forum sponsored by the Chamber and Owensboro Community and Technical College.

Messenger-Inquirer Executive Editor Matt Francis will be the forum’s moderator.

Dealing with the current and future impacts of COVID-19 are of course on everyone’s minds; ultimately however, when the pandemic is over, there will still be a city to run.

For Watson, an elected official always needs to have certain issues at the forefront of their mind, he said.

“I believe that an elected official’s number one priority is public safety,” he said. “Following that, the priorities are economic development, creating a balanced budget and aiding those members in our community that are the most vulnerable. COVID has been difficult for everyone and my sole focus is making sure this community stays afloat.”

Going into the forum and eventual election, Smith-Wright is focused on drug issues, homelessness, infrastructure and the community’s youth, she said.

“I know most would say economic development, tourism and job growth are the key, but there are other things to look at as well,” she said. “Developing mentor programs for our at-risk youth, addressing issues with drugs, increased programming for our homeless population as well as addressing continued issues with flooded areas and sidewalks are all important aspects that will make this community more attractive.”

For Conder, now is the time to invest in the city’s “human infrastructure,” he said.

“For me, safety is our number one concern,” he said. “As we look at the future post-COVID, I recognize the critical importance of securing internet access for all citizens and I truly believe that now is the time to invest in our human infrastructure through increased access to services, educational opportunities, and job development.”

Dracin Williams did not respond to interview requests.

Aside from the mayoral forum, a forum for 13th House District candidates Rep. Jim Glenn and former Rep. DJ Johnson will also take place and be a part of the featured programming during Thursday’s October Rooster Booster beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Both candidate forums can seen be via Zoom and Facebook Live. They will also be available to view on YouTube following the event.

By: Jacob Mulliken Messenger-Inquirer