4 vying for Ironton mayor

Published 12:01 am Sunday, October 25, 2015

With elections quickly approaching, the Ironton mayoral race is heating up as four candidates hope to claim the office.

Ironton Benefit Specialist Katrina Keith, Ironton city council member and former mayor Bob Cleary, Ironton Building and Code Enforcement Officer John David Willis and former mayor, city council member, city finance director and school district treasurer Jim Tordiff will all be on the ballot. All of the candidates said creating jobs is one of the most important issues facing the city and their experience is enough to back up their candidacy.

“I’ve been working with the city for 13 years and I feel like I have a good enough understanding for its operations,” Keith said. “My heart is in this city and I want to give back.”

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Keith said she wants to see more development on the riverfront and downtown revitalization to improve tourism for the city’s benefit.

“Right now, there’s a lack of jobs,” Keith said. “I think it’s imperative that we tap into tourism dollars to combat that and provide jobs.”

Cleary carries 23 years of experience working with the city.

“I was mayor for six years, vice mayor for eight years and the rest I have been on city council,” Cleary said. “I think I’m probably the best candidate for the mayor position.”

Creating jobs, meeting budgets and fixing city streets are all things Cleary said he’d be able to do if elected mayor.

“I feel like as a council member, I don’t have my full potential because I only have one vote. And as mayor, you don’t always need council support,” Cleary said. “With my experience, I can step into office and get started and hit the ground running.”

Cleary said adding more officers to the police force and increasing the fire department are also very important.

“There’s a lot to do in all of the departments,” Cleary said. “But I’m ready to take on the challenge.”

As the city’s building and code enforcement officer, Willis said his leadership is why he wanted to run for mayor more than anything else.

“With my background, work experience and education, I think the leadership qualities I have are good for the city. I want to keep the ball rolling that (Ironton Mayor) Rich (Blankenship) started,” Willis said. “One of the things I’ve been a big part of for the last four and a half years is getting rid of the dilapidated houses and cleaning up Ironton to make it marketable.”

Willis added that he has covered for the city water superintendent in the past and the city’s infrastructure is very important, stating that water lines throughout the city need to be replaced.

“As far as those running, my feet have been on the ground with many departments,” Willis said. “I have a good understanding of the city’s operations.”

Tordiff first took a job with the city’s recreation department in 1972 and has also previously served as assistant finance director, accountant, council member, mayor and treasurer on the Dawson-Bryant and Rock Hill school boards as well as working in the water office.

“The city is a big part of me and a large part of my life,” Tordiff said. “I think the mayor is responsible for basically two things: management of the city and leadership.”

Tordiff said making sure the city is financially solvent, being responsible for overseeing all city departments and making sure people are held accountable fall under management of the city, while making sure everything is heading in the right direction falls under leadership.

“Every candidate is going to say jobs are the biggest issue, and that’s the truth. Economic development falls in line with the LEDC (Lawrence Economic Development Corporation) and I think the mayor needs to work closely with the LEDC,” Tordiff said. “The bulk of the work in trying to create jobs is with the LEDC and the mayor’s job is to assist them in any way they can. I want to continue the same relationship Mayor Blankenship has with the LEDC.”

Elections will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 3.