Meet the Candidates: City, village councils and ESC board

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 16, 2021

Bob Cleary


Age: 71
Office Sought: Ironton City Council
Professional Background: Business owner
Political Experience: Served on city council; derved as vice mayor and served as mayor
Occupation: Business owner; BC Tool Rental (Founded in 1978)
Civic Involvement: Previous Lawrence County Historical Society president; Cemetery board member and Ironton Alive board member
What will be your top priority if elected to office? I have learned from experience that cooperation, collaboration and team effort pay off for citizens of Ironton. I pledge to work with my follow council members and the mayor to make the right decisions for the city.
What makes you the best candidate for the job? I bring a depth of knowledge and a breadth of experience to the council table. I have served as council member, vice mayor and mayor, so I understand the inner workings of council and city government.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? First, all accomplishments result from a team effort. We have no progress without cooperative work. I am happy to work with the mayor, council and the CAO in order to build projects that bring progress to our city. Here are a few accomplishments we have made:
• I was first elected in 1989; I then served as vice mayor from 1991-1993.
• We purchased the Penney’s building, renovated it and opened a new city center that met ADA requirements. (1992)
• In this time, we built and dedicated the water plant (1993)
• We cooperated and bought new fire trucks.
• We built a new, modern fire station.
• As mayor of Ironton, I signed the original contract with the State of Ohio to build the Ironton-Russell Bridge (which took 13 years to bring to completion). If I had to pick one from this list, I would say this has brought great growth to our city.
• I worked with others to recruit St. Mary’s to open a medical facility in Ironton.
What would you do to increase cooperation in our government? I pledge to be a problem solver, not a problem maker. I seek solutions, never to be divisive. I think treating people with respect wins the day. We must communicate, seek understanding and negotiate in good faith. I know that a cooperative spirit is contagious.
What can be done to improve streets in the city? Paving! Paving! Paving! I helped create the Street Paving Fund (Fund 13) in 2018 to improve city streets, roadways and bridges. I helped obtain the 2021 bond to establish the Roadway and Bridge Improvement Fund (Fund 51). This will be used for the North Street Bridge repair, along with various roadways within the City of Ironton. Additionally, we are working with several different entities to have the streets and roads “ranked” or “scored” to set priorities for paving. We also have identified several grants, enabling monies and funds for which we can apply to bring dollars into the effort of paving. This is a pressing need.
What is your plan for upgrading the water plant? In 2020, the Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (RCAP) began an assessment of the city’s water infrastructure and the water plant. We approved their plan for system upgrade, and it went into effect in 2021. This includes a city website (for better communication), provides for all necessary improvements for the entire water system and provides for maintenance and upgrades for the water plant infrastructure as well (into the next decade).

Craig Harvey


Age: 43
Office sought: Ironton City Council
Professional background: Registered nurse for 21 years, nursing educator for 19 years
Political experience: Ironton City Council, eight years
Occupation: Director of Education and Clinical Excellence, King’s Daughters Medical Center
Civic involvement: Ironton Little League Board member, Ironton Little League Teeball president of operations, Ironton City Planning Commission, youth sports coach/volunteer
What will be your top priority if elected to office? To be responsive to the needs of the community while being fiscally responsible with our citizens money.
What makes you the best candidate for the job? I am a fourth generation Irontonian and I love Ironton! I am raising four kids in the city and I want it to be the best place for them now and in the future, for the fifth generation of Harveys in Ironton. I have no hidden agenda and I try to do what’s right, because I live here too!
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? Seeing people that I have taken care of that are thankful for the care that I provided and seeing students that I have mentored be successful leaders. Ultimately, I am most proud of having a positive impact on the lives of people I encounter in my various professional roles and being respected for my integrity.
What would you do to increase cooperation in our government? Listen more than talk! Be adaptable and willing to compromise.
What can be done to improve streets in the city? A strategic plan that has priorities and projects in place with a schedule that we follow. Doing that requires budgeting for and finding additional matching funds to make that happen. This takes a long-term commitment from the citizens, the mayor, and the council.
What is your plan for upgrading the water plant? Committing to taking the recommendations from the expert analysis that is already underway and utilizing their plan for the scheduled upgrades while minimizing the impact to our residents.

Nate Kline

Age: 40
Office Sought: Ironton City Council
Professional Background: B.A. accounting – Marshall University, M.A. education – Marshall University
Political Experience: Ironton City Council member, 2017-current
Occupation: Personal finance and business teacher, Portsmouth City School District, Portsmouth; insurance agent, Greg Gibson Insurance and Financial Services, Ashland, Kentucky
Civic Involvement: Volunteer for Ironton In Bloom and The Friends of Ironton, Knights of Columbus Council #1405
What will be your top priority if elected to office? My top priority, if elected, will be to continue working to put the city in a financial position to address a range of issues, including condemnation and demolition of blighted property, waterline replacement, street improvements, stormwater management, sewer plant improvements, maintaining full time police and fire departments, increasing recreation opportunities and being a quality partner for community and economic development.
What makes you the best candidate for the job? I have experience and an understanding of public finance. I have worked extremely hard over the last four years with mayors and other council members to move the City of Ironton forward and put the city in a position to begin addressing some of the issues it faces. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but I believe change started four years ago and I would like to serve our residents for another four years to keep the momentum going.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? I am proud to have been elected four years ago by the residents of Ironton to serve and represent them on the Ironton City Council. This is a great honor and I work hard. I am also especially proud to be able to work in education for the last 17 years with so many kids. I enjoy being able to teach financial literacy to our youth, which is something they will always use in their life.
What would you do to increase cooperation in our government? I have always said that I am willing to work with anyone who is also willing to move the City of Ironton forward. I believe open and honest communication is extremely important, even though there may be different opinions. I have and would continue to work with whoever may be in city government positions.
What can be done to improve streets in the city? Earlier this year, Ironton City Council passed legislation for the city to enter into a bond agreement to receive $2,281,000 for road and bridge improvements. The city plans to use this money to improve our streets and to use as a match for grant opportunities to secure even more money for street improvements. Improvements will begin next year, 2022, and will include repaving one of the worst sections of roadway in town, South Third Street, from Lorain Street to the Ice Creek Bridge. This project includes waterline replacement and the city will receive a grant match of approximately $400,000 to help complete this.
What is your plan for upgrading the water plant? Providing clean water to residents is a tremendous priority. Approximately two years ago, the debt borrowed to build the Water Filtration Plant was paid off. The city invested an additional $600,000 to make sure the Water Filtration Plant stayed in great shape. It is one of the best assets the city currently has. The city is set to focus on improving water lines throughout the city to continue providing quality drinking water. Because the Water Filtration Plant is not yet producing at full capacity with current users, it is my hope the city can market and sell bulk water to other water providers to help offset the cost of future water line replacement projects.
The city is also working to address storm and waste water management through a process called “Integrated Planning.” With this, the city has invested money to be able to address stormwater, the sewer plant and pump stations holistically, because they are all related to each other. The city’s contracted engineering firm is currently in the process of performing a feasibility study on how to best address these issues. I plan to hear what the engineer’s recommendations are and to work with council members and the mayor to continue improving the city’s infrastructure.

Chris Perry


Age: 52
Office Sought: Ironton City Council
Professional Background: Business ownership, marketing, grantwriting, development/funding, behavior management.
Political Experience: None
Civic Involvement: President of local fraternal organization, Rotary Columbus
What will be your top priority if elected to office? Community improvement and economic development by way of grants and 25 years of professional networking.
What makes you the best candidate for the job? The aforementioned 25 years of networking combined with a passion to see my community succeed, and my tenacity to ensure that it gets done.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? To acquire a $200,000 ADA grant for a special needs child and family.
What would you do to increase cooperation in our government? A quarterly town hall type event, rotating between area schools, churches, and businesses, allowing citizens greater access to elected officials. Providing at least a quorum of the legislative body, in a more in casual environment than traditional council meeting settings, would, I believe, allow for greater visibility and would lead to greater understanding.
What can be done to improve streets in the city? I believe coupling the federal infrastructure money on the near horizon with private money from companies like AEP would allow Ironton to accomplish three goals in one fell swoop. First and second, those streets in town most in need of paving or repair could also be the first streets to begin underground utility construction to occur at the same time. This would allow our city to start the tedious but ultimately necessary process of removing overhead power lines. Those communities with little or no high tension wires ultimately find themselves with fewer instances of power outages as a result of storms or other unforeseen situations. The third and, most importantly, added benefit to an undertaking such as this, would be good paying jobs in our community and a sustainable income tax base for our city to rely upon for years to come.
What is your plan for upgrading the water plant? EPA and other federally guaranteed grant and community gifts to upgrade and improve our aging water plant. Most grant opportunities have a contingency built in for maintaining an efficient system of operating procedures and are more generous in awarding future grants if those efficiency guidelines are adhered to. Essentially, I believe the answer to the last two questions fall into the realm of our city engaging in a symbiotic relationship between development opportunity providers, and overall infrastructure modernizing effort.

Yvonne DeKay Sinnott


Age: 73
Office Sought: Ironton City Council
Professional Background: Have attended University Kentucky Branch for four years and Ashland Community College for several years. Kent State, two summer programs and University of New York in Buffalo four summer programs. Dance instructor and owner of Yvonne DeKay School of Dance for 57 years.
Political Experience: None for government, but have been elected past secretary, 16 years, and president, six years, of Chapter #40 Dance Masters America, also past president of USTA Twirling chapter of Kentucky.
Occupation: Owner/instructor of Yvonne DeKay School of Dance
Civic Involvement: Only volunteer past years for teaching dance at nursing homes and Open Door School in Ironton.
What will be your top priority if elected to office? To listen to the people and citizens voices with hopes of making changes they are concerned about.
What makes you the best candidate for the job? Not sure if any one particular candidate can be the best, but I am willing to get in there and do my best, because I care about our world and if our small town can set example of what is better for the people, then I am willing to fight for what is “Best.”
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? The fact that I have proven myself to the people in Ironton and the Tri-State area who doubted my integrity back in the ‘60s. Now they know for sure that I am serious about any project that I do get involved with. I also am a strong believer of doing the right thing for our city, our children and the future of the world we live in.
What would you do to increase cooperation in our government? Look around at what is not working for the city employees or the people, talk and listen for solutions to better the problems. Educate the citizens more as to why there is not enough money to correct a lot of their concerns. Look at budgets and explain to the public what can affordably be done. Make sure all city employees are treated as equals and they get paid for their worth.
What can be done to improve streets in the city? Look for any grants available to help a city in distress. Vote to raise the employment tax on those working folks. The employee tax has not been raised in over 50 years. Why do they keep adding more cost on to the water bills of people who are on a fixed income, disability or Social Security? The City of lronton charges the lowest rate of employee tax of any city on the river. If we want to repave the streets, the money has to come from somewhere and every little bit helps!
What is your plan for upgrading the water plant? Same as how do we improve our personal homes? Look for grants or loans available to get the money. Improvements cannot be made if there is not enough money available. Manpower also is a problem, without good pay, there are no employees to do the job.

Kimberly McKnight

Age: 52
Office sought: Coal Grove Village Council
Professional Background: River Valley Health Systems, 12 years as STCNA; KDMC as a patient office coordinator for 21 years
Occupation: Patient office coordinator at KDMC
Political experience: Elected as Coal Grove village council member, eight years
Civic involvement: NRA member and advocate of the 2nd Amendment. I respect and defend all aspects of the Constitution. I respect the rights, beliefs and opinions of others.
What will be your top priority if elected to office? I want to continue working on updating our water and we are in need of help with our critical infrastructure paving repairing roadways, culverts, etc.
What makes you the best candidate for the job? I have served on council for eight years and it takes a long time to understand the government process of getting results and budgeting widely simultaneously.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? I have worked continuously since the age of 15, 35 years have been in the health care field because I have the passion to help people.
What would you do to increase cooperation in our government? Communication is key, while dedication is a must.
You must express the importance of your needs as a community and follow up, no matter how long the process may take and how frustrating it can become, because it is a slow process.
I hope to continue to serve and dedicate another four years to keep this village moving in a positive direction.

Jon Buchanan

Age: 42
Office Sought: Proctorville Village Council
Professional Background: Education
Political Experience: None
Occupation: Teacher
Civic Involvement: None
What will be your top priority if elected to office? I would love to see Proctorville continue to grow. We have more jobs and opportunities now than we have ever had. I hope to help that continue.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?  I have been a Proctorville resident my entire life. I know the people, the village and the culture of the village. I have the utmost pride in being a Proctorville resident.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? I have a master’s of education, run two youth basketball leagues and coach at high school basketball team, where I have the opportunity to mold and mentor many young people.
What would you do to increase cooperation in our government? I believe our community works well together. I just want to ensure that we continue to grow.

Gary A. W. Simpson

Age: 77
Office Sought: Proctorville Village Council
Professional Background: Licensed electrician
Political Experience: Mayor, 12 years; council member, 12 years
Occupation: Retired
Civic Involvement: Active member, VFW Honor Guard
What will be your top priority if elected to office?  Encourage residents to improve town image
What makes you the best candidate for the job?  24 years experience
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? Service to my country in the military and continuing my service through the VFW 6878
What would you do to increase cooperation in our government? Work with the council and people to do what is best for our small town and community

James B. “Brad” Adkins


Age: 38
Office Sought: South Point Village Council
Professional Background: Insurance and investment professional for that last 12 years.
Political Experience: Current South Point Village councilman
Occupation: Insurance and investment professional
Civic Involvement: In my spare time, I coach Little League Softball.
What will be your top priority if elected to office? My top priority when re-elected will be to continue to maintain and build a safe and modern hometown.
What makes you the best candidate for the job? My experience in building a business from the ground up makes me the ideal candidate to help our village grow. I also feel that the moral code that I live by, guided by my faith in Jesus Christ, guides my decisions. My wife Gara and I have chosen to raise our family here, so making the best decisions for our town directly affects us.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? My most proud moment professionally was when I was chosen to make President’s Club as one of the top insurance agents in the country. I was able to accomplish that in our small town, helping our friends and neighbors.
What would you do to increase cooperation in our government? We have great cooperation in government here in South Point. Overall, in our country, the only way we will ever see cooperation in government again is when we start seeing one another as brothers, instead of enemies again. Life does not exist on the north pole, or the south pole, it thrives somewhere in the middle.
What can be done to improve streets in the village? Overall, we have wonderful streets to drive on in South Point. We currently have a water project going on which is vastly improving the quality of water our citizens receive.
Some disruption in traffic flow and pavement has happened, but our contractors are doing a fantastic job of restoring the streets as they work. Also, there are a handful of other streets that are slated to be shored up structurally and resurfaced soon.
What is your plan for upgrading the water plant? South Point is blessed to be one of the few places in the State of Ohio that controls their own waterworks.
The mayor, village administrator and those of us on council have been actively working to invest in the modernization of the water plant.
I will continue to support funding for upgrades to the water and sewer department going forward, while ensuring affordable rates. Also, we must actively do our part in controlling waste and overuse to help us maintain our independence for years to come.

Mary Cogan


Age: 54
Office sought: South Point Village Council
Professional Background: Business owner, property manager for storage and home rentals and local politician
Political Experience: Presently serving my eighth year on South Point Village Council; served four years South Point Board of Education member, 2008-2011; Republican Central Committee person; Republican Executive Committee vice chair
Occupation: Self employed with South Point Storage, LLC and also Park Avenue Real Estate, LLC. I’ve served as property manager for all of our properties for 20-plus years.
Civic involvement: Coal Grove Lions Club member; Liaison for the upcoming Chesapeake/South Point Branch of the CG Lions Club; Columbus Apartment Assn. & National Apartment Assn. member Ohio Self Storage Association and National Self Storage Association member; Special Needs Youth Sportsmen volunteer; Women’s Business Center of Central Appalachia Advisory Committee member; Collins Career Technical Center Advisory Committee member; Be Hope lronton Church member; Jeremiah 38 Ministries volunteer; Impact Prevention volunteer; Cub and Boy Scout Pack 115 treasurer; Previous Lawrence County Senior Citizens Organization Board of Directors member and volunteer; Previous Chamber of Commerce volunteer, Board of Directors member and volunteer; 2016 Lawrence County Women’s Leadership Award recipient
What will be your top priority if elected to office? Continuing to improve my South Point community
What makes you the best candidate for the job? I put my heart and soul into everything I do. I’m not only competent, financially responsible and hard working, I have the energy and enthusiasm to continue serving my community.
I’ve been proudly serving the last eight years in this capacity, which makes me incredibly knowledgeable about our infrastructure, local government and each department within our village. I’ve been a hands-on business owner in town for 25-plus years and I’m very involved in my South Point community, as well as Lawrence County events and organizations.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? I’m most proud of being able to operate and grow my businesses. Being able to grow each business yearly by making sound financial decisions, and operating them legally, ethically and morally is a huge deal for me!
Plus, I’m happy to have achieved placement in U-Haul’s Top 100 Dealers list numerous times. U-Haul has over 21,000 dealers in the United States and Canada.
What would you do to increase cooperation in our government? More collaboration and partnerships for the common good is a great start. Trust, mutual respect, accountability and effective, transparent dialogue must be at the heart of discussions.
What can be done to improve streets in the village? Council, our mayor and village administrator have worked diligently with our engineer firm to find and receive grant funding and to be sure that we are “shovel ready” for as many of the water and street grants as possible. This allows us to be a top priority grant funding recipient, which helps us make tremendous progress with our infrastructure. We should keep doing exactly as we have been; I’m extremely proud of our progress.
What is your plan for upgrading the water plant? As I mentioned in the previous answer, we have a pretty amazing engineer firm and village administrator. With the direction and insight of our Administrator and the guidance of the engineer firm, we are made aware of issues before they become serious problems.
We have already done multiple upgrades to our facilities and are continuing on that path. Grant funding is imperative, and I know we’ve done a terrific job in that regard.

Carla Salyer
Age: 71
Office Sought: Lawrence County ESC Board
Residence: Coal Grove
Professional Background: Special Needs and Home Economics teacher for 28 years; ESC employee, two years; and Ohio Educational Support team, one year.
Occupation: Retired educator
Civic Involvement: Life coach for Second Chance Recovery Municipal Court, Impact Prevention board member and former Lawrence County Developmentally Disabled board member.
What makes you the best candidate for the job? I am from a family of educators. I understand education through my lifelong involvement in it.
What professional accomplishments are you most proud of? The love and respect of the students’ lives in which I have been a part.
What is your vision for education in your community? No other component of growth is more important than the education of our citizens.
What do you feel are the most important responsibilities of a school board? Listening to our educators, citizens, businesses and students. This allows us to govern better by understanding their needs.
How well would you say school officials in your district have handled the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years? Are you in favor of mask mandates for students and staff? It has been proven by science that masks slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. My hope is our educators can return to “normal: soon. These have been hard times for students, teachers and parents. School personnel have been stressed, as we all have. I want to commend and thank them for all they do.