The race for Corbin City Commission has gotten a little more competitive in recent weeks as current three-term Commissioner Joe Shelton has decided to throw his hat in the ring again, and local tax professional Joe "Butch" White announced this week he is seeking a seat on the five-member board.
White, who ran for City Commission in 2004, finished just out of the money in a in a seven-way race with 1,155 votes. He said he made the decision to give politics another go at the encouragement of friends and supporters.
"I’ve had a lot of urging from a lot of people," White said. "They just want me to run. They feel like I will be an asset to Corbin."
White officially filed to run for City Commission Tuesday at the Knox County Clerk’s office. He said the biggest issue, he feels, facing the Commission centers around the Southeast Kentucky Agriculture and Exposition Center – a 5,000-seat, $28 million arena located in south Corbin. He said he is dissatisfied with the lack of events at the facility. The arena is managed by SMG World Event and Convention Venue Management, a Philadelphia based company.
"It was supposed to be an $18 million project and ended up costing over $25 million," White said. "The city of Corbin and SMG have issues with it being vacant, especially during the summer … There is some major event that needs to be out there once a month."
White said he travels extensively in the summer and does not buy excuses that venues like the Arena have a summer slowdown.
White, who is the owner of CompuTax – an income tax, accounting and consulting service for businesses and individuals – said he plans to continually look for more ways to make city government more efficient if elected.
"I want to see the streets and neighborhoods of Corbin brought back to life and show we have pride in our community," White said. "I want our city government to be proactive and not reactive. I want to help with long-range plans as well as short-term projects."
After a period of doubt late last year, current Corbin City Commissioner Joe Shelton said he decided to officially file to run for his fourth term in December at the urging of the men he currently serves with.
"I’ve had a good experience being on the City Commission but I felt like maybe it was time for somebody else to run," Shelton said of his struggle to seek another term.
"It is something I really want to do. I enjoy the majority of it, but to be honest I don’t enjoy the electoral process … I don’t enjoy campaigning. Going through the election process is not any fun. That part of it almost makes it a deterrent."
Shelton has pushed hard in recent years for improvements to recreation facilities for youth in town, including playing an instrumental role in the construction of athletic fields at the Civic Center grounds for youth football, baseball and softball. He said if elected to another term, he’d like to focus on improvements to downtown Corbin and on continuing and expanding efforts to replace old sidewalks.
"Our downtown area needs some work. We’ve done some good things with our Main Street Program, but I’ve always envisioned more," Shelton said. "Also, I think the sidewalk project should continue from now on. We need news sidewalks on side streets downtown. I think we really should look at a beautification area downtown and focus on bringing some things back there."
Shelton said he is supportive of the idea to erect a statue of Kentucky Fried Chicken Founder Harland Sanders in downtown Corbin.
He added that he also wants to see to fruition a lawsuit brought by the city of Corbin against the Knox County Fiscal Court regarding the proper distribution of occupational tax revenues. Corbin won a first round of the legal battle last year. The case is currently on appeal.
White gained some notoriety when the lawsuit was first filed. He is one of the plaintiffs in the case.
White and Shelton join former City Commissioner Ed Tye and current Commissioners Bruce Farris, Phil Gregory and Dennis Lynch as candidates in the race. There will be no May Primary Election if eight or fewer candidates file.