Six city council seats on the ballot Nov. 4

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Candidates bring a variety of experience to the race

By Stephen Lega

Seven people are vying for six seats on the Lebanon City Council.

Those seven people include five sitting council members, a former council member and a candidate who is running for the second time in as many years. The Enterprise recently sent questionnaires to each of those candidates. The answers provided were used to prepare the profile of the field. The complete questionnaires are available at www.lebanonenterprise.com.   The candidates Denise Fogle is the newest member of the Lebanon City Council. She was elected last year in a special election to fill a vacancy created when Jamie Garrett resigned from the council. Fogle works at Central Kentucky Community Action, and she has served in leadership positions at St. Augustine Catholic Church and on site-based decision-making councils. Kenny Marrett is seeking a return to the city council as well. He previously served on the council from January of 1999 to December of 2002. He believes his experience as a business owner of Ken-Mar Tool, Inc. (25 years) and co-owner of Maewood Cabinets (five years) would benefit the council. He also served on the Lebanon Masonic Council No. 87 and the advisory council of the Boy Scouts of America. Elizabeth Ann Osbourne is another incumbent member of the council seeking re-election. She is a mother and housewife, a piano teacher and a water safety and water aerobics instructor. In addition to serving on the city council, Osbourne has been involved at St. Augustine Catholic Church, the Kentucky Music Teachers Association and the Lebanon-Marion County Chamber of Commerce. Kate Palagi first ran for the city council last fall in the special election won by Fogle. This year, however, she is competing for one of six seats. Palagi studied economics at the University of Illinois-Champaign Urbana. She is an active member of St. Augustine Catholic Church, and she has been part of the Business and Professional Women of Lebanon, a Caring Place board member and the Marine Corp League Auxiliary. She's also been a Ham Days volunteer and a member of an investment club. Bill Pickerill has been a city councilman for the past eight years. He is the president and general manager of Pickerill Motor Company and the co-owner of Homestead Laserwash in Springfield. He is also a member of St. Augustine Catholic Church, the Lebanon-Marion County Rotary Club, the Central Kentucky Community Advisory Board and the Lebanon Main Street Committee. Jim Richardson is seeking his third term on the city council. He is a deacon at his church, the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and he was a member of the Lebanon Fire Department for 20 years. He is also a member of the Lebanon Kiwanis Club. Darin Spalding is also seeking re-election this year. A graduate of Louisville Technical Institute, he has worked at CFW Associated Engineers for 20 years.  He is a member of Holy Name of Mary Church and involved with local youth sports organizations. He coordinates Lebanon's 6-8-year-old Little League, serves on the board of the Marion County Youth Soccer League and is a Graham Memorial Park committee member.   On the issues To help voters get a better understanding of their city council candidates, we asked them to discus a few specific issues that have or may come before the council during the next few years. One of those issues - animal control - was a topic of discussion for the city council for more than a year. The council voted 4-2 to approve an animal control ordinance Sept. 8. The ordinance took effect upon its publication Sept. 24. The supporters of the ordinance - Osbourne, Pickerill, Richardson and Spalding - all indicated they would be open to amending the ordinance if there is a reason for doing so. Pickerill was a member of the animal control committee that helped draft the ordinance. He noted that the committee considered every possible scenario and made several revisions to the ordinance before it was approved. Nevertheless, he said he would consider amending the ordinance if there are factors that negatively affect city residents. Osbourne, who was one of the most vocal supporters of the ordinance, said there may be a time in the future when the council needs to amend the ordinance. "The ordinance was written because people were calling complaining of dogs in their yards destroying their flower beds and barking all hours of days and nights," she said. "Also, some owners had four or more dogs in pens smelling up the neighborhood and not being cared for properly." Spalding specifically said he would support amending the ordinance to allow households to own more animals than are allowed under the existing ordinance (a maximum of three dogs or three cats and a total of five animals). But that would mean changing another part of the ordinance as well. "We would need a different licensing or permitting for these animals to protect the neighbors of these animal owners," he said. Richardson said he supported the ordinance because it provided some protection to the community from pet owners who were not taking care of their animals. He said he received calls regarding animals running loose and owners not properly cleaning their pets' enclosures. "I would be in favor of amending this ordinance if any one could show a better means of controlling the problems that the city has had," he said. Fogle is the only sitting council member who opposed the ordinance and is seeking re-election. (Dennis George also opposed the ordinance, but he is not running this fall.) Fogle said it's always possible to amend the ordinance, but her decision on the amendment would depend on what is presented to the council.  "As always, I would strive to be attentive to the needs of all concerned and come to a fair decision," she said. Out of all the candidates, Marrett was the most clear in his support for amending the ordinance. "In the current form the ordinance would require a squad of animal control officers," he said. Marrett added that the ordinance puts an undue burden on pet owners. The ordinance should focus on dangerous and nuisance animals, he said. Palagi said the ordinance is so detailed that she expects issues will arise creating a need for changes. "I would, as a city council person, listen to all problems and concerns from my fellow citizens and continue to tailor the ordinance so it fits all people of our community, animal owners and non-owners alike," she said.   E-911 In recent months, the Marion County Fiscal Court has revived discussions about enhanced 911. Marion County is one of a handful of counties in Kentucky that doesn't already have E-911 in place. All the candidates running for office this year agreed that E-911 would be a good thing. Paying for E-911 was a different matter, however. Marrett, Osbourne, Palagi and Pickerill each mentioned the tax collected on all cell phone bills in the county as a funding source. Since Marion County does not have E-911, the money collected from that tax (approximately $80,000 annually) goes to the Kentucky State Police. Pickerill also mentioned a small landline fee as another funding source, and Palagi also mentioned grants as another funding source. "It is also important to make sure that it is being funded fairly across the entire county and not overburdening city residents," Palagi said. While they support the service, Richardson and Spalding both spoke against using city funds to pay for E-911. "If the City of Lebanon pays any percentage of E-911 service, the citizens of Lebanon would be double taxed for the same service," Spalding said. Marrett said he trusts that the magistrates can address the funding issue. Pickerill said he could see using city funds for one aspect of E-911, however. "I am in favor of the city paying a portion of the equipment but not the ongoing expense of operation," he said.   Budget matters Fuel prices remain more than $3 per gallon. Health care costs continue to climb. These and other expenses affect all areas of the city budget. The budget makes up 80 percent of the city council's responsibilities, according to Marrett. He noted that the economic conditions could also affect revenues from the city's occupational tax and grants from the state. "Oversight throughout the year will be the council's toughest challenge," he said. Osbourne said the city would need to look into spending in every department if expenses continue to climb. Fogle advocated prioritizing spending, while making essential services and compensation for city employees the first priorities. Palagi agreed with Fogle that prioritizing would be needed, adding that she would listen to the citizens about what those priorities should be. Richardson favored going through the budget "line by line" to assess spending, including looking at heating and cooling costs and mileage on city vehicles. Spalding also advocated continuing to increase the fuel efficiency of police vehicles and noted that installing computers in those vehicles also makes the department more efficient.  Likewise, he said the council must keep working on health insurance costs every time its up for renewal. Pickerill pointed out that he is the only council member seeking re-election who voted against the 2008-09 budget. (George also opposed it.) Pickerill added that he has advocated having the city police use bicycles and foot patrols, which he believes would save money and improve security. Pickerill also supports asking for a larger contribution from employees toward health insurance premiums. The city pays 100 percent of the premium for single employees and 95 percent of the premium for family plans.   Closing thoughts Marrett, Palagi and Pickerill also noted that citizens can contact them to discuss questions and concerns. Osbourne stressed that she has tried to represent citizens the best she could during her time on the council, and she would love to continue to do so. Fogle said she has seen the many great things going on in Lebanon during her past year on the council, and she aims to be considerate and fair to all citizens when making decisions. Richardson said he knows some of the decisions made by the council haven't always been popular, but he believes they were the correct decisions. He added that he enjoys trying to make the city a better place. Spalding also said he puts a lot of time into studying the issues that come before the council. He added that he would like to see the youth programs in Lebanon continue to grow.