The Paducah Mayoral Candidate forum was held Thursday evening in Paducah and hosted by the Paducah/McCracken County NAACP. The forum was town hall style and consisted of three mayoral candidates: Richard Abraham, George Bray, and write-in candidate Dujuan Thomas. The moderators were news anchors from WPSD.
Before answering questions, statistics were presented to the candidates by Shamarria Morrison from News Channel 6. Statistics concerning Paducah's demographic make-up based on race, median household income and black/white business ownership.
The first question dealt with racial data on business ownership in Paducah. According to WPSD stats, 81 percent of business owners in Paducah are white and less than one percent are black. Candidates were asked what solutions they might have to reduce the gap. Commissioner Abraham said he would take advantage of the new HUB at PTHS for training purposes. He said he would visit historically black colleges and encourage graduates to come to Paducah to work and live.
Businessman George Bray said his family had a company in Paducah for 150 years. He said he advocates for the black community and believes he can help drive ownership among black businessmen.
Thomas responded first on his plan to help unify the community and assist those in need. Thomas said he would be the leader the people could depend on and that he would donate his first year's salary to the citizens of Paducah.
Bray said he would tap into his connections with The United Way. He also mentioned his involvement in 'the tip jar' project that raised money for restaurant staff during the early weeks of the pandemic. And Abraham said that 'the city and municipalities are doing what we can and our partners are standing up. We work best when everyone takes responsibility."
The Breonna Taylor grand jury indictment was a talking point for the candidates. Bray said that he believed Kentucky's attorney general did a good job explaining the indictment as it stands. He admitted there are still questions that need to be answered. He said, "Paducah's not Louisville. We have a great police force and effective leadership."
Thomas said, "Breonna Taylor didn't receive justice. He said the community of Paducah is under-represented by minorities. He mentioned Raynarldo Henderson, Lakilia Bedeau, Robert Shy, and Corbin Snowden as four black candidates running for office this election year. Thomas said change can be made by representation.
Another forum question dealt with confederate flags and confederate statues and whether or not they should remain in the public eye. Thomas said "Considering the current climate, you don't put these (confederate) statues on a pedestal. They don't have statues of Hitler in Germany. " He went on to say that he didn't believe in erasing history and a museum may be a more appropriate place to remember heritage.
Bray said that having the confederate flag flying on interstate 24 at exit 16, 'isn't a good look for this community.' Bray discussed the tug of war between those wanting to keep confederate statues versus those that wanted them removed. He said, "If the black community comes together and are unified and there's a way to preserve our history, I'm all for it"
The question was asked that if elected mayor, to what lengths would they go to represent the entire city of Paducah. Abraham said he believed the "southside's going to get a lot of love over the next few years." With planned community meetings to fix sidewalks, gutters, and other necessary repairs to get it thriving again.
Bray said he would work with groups such as the Midtown Alliance that helped to revitalize Fountain Avenue to provide leadership and guidance to rejuvinate other areas of the city.
Each candidate was asked for their plans for a greater business community and each had a brief answer. Abraham referred to students he's mentored in the past and wisdom he's imparted, "if you show up drug free and on time, you can make a living for you and your family." He went on to say that a lot of funding goes into GPED. He said, "We just need to make sure we're ready when the big companies come visit."
Bray said a big problem is that many "don't have access to capitol and don't have access to training." He said, "we need to tailor to the workforce and the skill level we have available now."
Thomas' plan for a greater business community is, "By using common sense and focusing on priorities."
One of the more interesting questions was about youth leadership. How will we nurture our youth in Paducah? Bray said he had a long history of mentoring. He said there's a program the city participated in many years ago and thought it might have been under the leadership of Mayor Gerry Montgomery. It was a plan that provided teens an opportunity to work for the city during the summer months. He'd like to bring it back.
Each candidate made closing remarks. Thomas said he's the "common sense candidate." And he wants to represent the under-represented. Abraham said he understands how government works. He believes in our police department and their desire to be 'visual with the citizens.' Bray said he believed this election is 'the most' important to Paducah.' He said, "I have a track record for success in everything I've done."
After all was said and done. Each candidate was able to share their platform with the, mostly virtual audience. Remember to register to vote if you haven't already. There's several ways to vote this election year. November 3 is the day.
U.S. Senate Candidate Amy McGrath was in Paducah today to launch her new Paducah staff office location at 101 - 109 Broadway Street at the corner of 2nd and Broadway. The event was held at the Gazebo located directly across the street from Doe's Eat Place.
Campaign yard signs were on hand for those that wanted to support McGrath by placing signs in their front lawns or businesses. While waiting for the McGrath event scheduled to start at 12:30 pm CST, the announcement for the Breonna Taylor grand jury indictments were set for 12:15 pm today. For Kentucky, both the political race between McGrath and Senator Mitch McConnell and justice for Breonna Taylor are just a couple of passionate issues that could change the course of history for Kentucky and the United States.
Another important issue for all Americans is COVID-19. McGrath said, “We’ve lost 200,000 Americans which should make us angry. We’ve got to tackle the coronavirus.”
McGrath discussed social security, healthcare, and getting out to vote. She said, “We need to protect social security that working Americans paid for,” she continued, “Kentuckians shouldn’t have to work three jobs in order to make ends meet. You know that Kentucky can do better.”
Earlier today, McGrath visited Owensboro, Kentucky. She said, “I’ve been going around Kentucky, showing there’s another way.” One way is to get out and vote.
“How we win this thing is to get out our cell phone, text friends, and tell them to get out and vote. Tell people how to vote. They need to register by October 5 in Kentucky. Ballots must be postmarked by November 3. There’s no excuse why people can’t vote," said McGrath.
If you need to register to vote or request a ballot, go to govoteky.com
Packed with boaters over the Labor Day weekend, Trump supporters formed Trump Trains and flotillas showing support for the 45th President of the United States of America. Facebook
Trump train on Lake Barkley in Kentucky (photography by Roberta Friend Rhodes)
The sheer numbers of boats across our nation’s waterways in support of President Donald J. Trump has been astounding. Trump is best when the air is electric and the energy is off the charts. So far this year, the 2020 Presidential campaign has been anything but electric. In fact, it’s been a dud.
COVID-19 has taken away the ability to come together as a country in support of either political party. The DNC held a virtual convention while the RNC focused on limited in-person participation. It’s hard to get fired up with masks, social distancing, and ‘wash your hands’ signs everywhere you turn.
The boat parade campaign was genius. It didn’t originate with Trump organizers, however, they knew a good thing when they saw it. If there’s no way to cheer for your candidate in large, energetic rallies, the next best thing is massive pro-Trump flotillas. The boat parades are recreating Trump rallies with social distancing built in. They are literally expanding their base and adding voters by building on ‘organic energy'.
In western Kentucky, Trump supporters were making waves during the Labor Day holiday weekend. Barkley and Kentucky lakes witnessed a Trumpsters rally cry. The Trumptilla joined like-minded boaters together for an all-out adventure across the beautiful lakes of western Kentucky.
Across the wakes on the lakes with other conservative fans, spectators could witness Trump signage, cardboard cutouts, and Trump masks all on hand to honor the 45th President of the United States. In a ‘bigly’ way, the base rallied behind the president pledging their support and honoring their country.
Local boaters, Melanie Graves Bell and Roberta Friend Rhodes captured photographs and videos of the events over the weekend. It was one of those moments that made one proud to be an American. Rhodes, an amateur photographer, took pictures of Trump trains and lone boats proudly waving the American flag while displaying Trump signs on the Lake Barkley side. Rhodes said on her Facebook post, “We are having fun on Lake Barkley and I love watching them all.”
Melanie Graves Bell and her crew shared Trump rally pictures and videos on the Kentucky Lake side. Trump fans that couldn’t be on the lake were able to see events unfold through Bell’s eyes. Bell made the comment on Facebook that Trump was there, in fact, 'he was in a couple of boats...at the same time.’
Organizers made big plans for the Saturday rally which was part of the Trump 2020-September 5th-Land/Air/Sea event. It was packed with boat parades by sea and float parades by land. There were airplanes flying overhead with banners and skydivers that made a splash down in the water during the boating patriotic party. At the end of the day, there were fireworks displays from Calvert City, Kentucky that could be watched from land or sea.
Rickie Goode played ‘Proud to be an American’ on his boat along with garnishing a cardboard cutout of Trump. The video, shot by Cindy Shoulta, is on the Kentucky Lake side close to the dam. The videographer was standing at ‘the new beach’ at Kentucky Lake. She pans the camera around slowly showing decorated cars, flags, and people standing on the dam, the beach and the grassy slopes. It’s quite a display of patriotism.
The Labor Day boat parades weren’t the first flotillas of the season. The first Trumptillas happened in west Florida in early May. The boat parades were started by MAGA's (Make America Great Again) in south Florida and continued to Florida’s Gulf Coast, Arizona’s Lake Havasu, South Carolina and Southern California. The boat parades were being called Trumptillas and the captains and crews were ‘MAGA’ boaters.
News Channel 8 in south Florida reported the organizers from the coffee shop called Conservative Grounds were on a quest to break the record for the most boats for any one event in the Guinness Book of World Records. The idea was to have the largest boat parade ever recorded. The record holders were out of Malaysia celebrating Malaysia Day with 1,180 boats. Organizers from Clearwater, Florida had 1,600 boats register for the event in early May. Some have predicted over 2,000 boats were in attendance.
According to News Channel 8’s report a public relations person from Guinness responded by saying, “We confirm we have received an application for the title and attempt. We are currently awaiting evidence of review.” The review typically takes 12 - 15 weeks.
Trump organizers have taken note and are in full support of the boat rallies. Florida has the highest number of registered boats in the nation, close to one million. The state of Wisconsin, which held a very successful rally, had the fourth highest registered boats at right around 600,000. Both of these states and many others are highly-contested and considered battle grounds. Some, such as Arizona and Georgia, both holding big pro-Trump rallies are swing states further energizing the crowds and increasing momentum.
With only two months to go, it’s time to rally the troops, flotillas, whatever armory is available for both candidates. Without increasing momentum and taking charge, it’s leaving too much up to fate. The need to find social distancing opportunities to cheer on your candidate is crucial. It will be interesting to see if there’s more tactics planned or unplanned that will ‘make waves’ over the next few months.