Daryl Royse

Question 1: 

What do you see as Whitesburg’s greatest assets and opportunities?

Whitesburg has not only an amazing asset in it's natural beauty but also in the people who live here. The people of Whitesburg have a strong work ethic, a strong sense of community, and an even stronger spirit of perseverance and fortitude, that has been passed on for generations. 

The opportunities here are vast but the primary opportunity I see is self-destiny.  Since the significant losses in coal mining, Whitesburg faces a new era that it can re-imagine itself as it's citizens choose.  It can become a hub for increased business growth, technological improvements, and a new sense of purpose for the region, if there is a renewed energy and focus from the community and it's leaders.

Question 2: 

What are the city’s greatest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?

1) Lack of a cohesive city image - This can be improved by both physical improvements - sidewalks, beautification projects, and signage - but also improvements in how the city markets itself.  Working together with the Mayor and next council, we would need to explore funding options and private/public partnerships to find the financial resources for such projects.  A priority should be made for marketing and web presence for the city.  Funding for this should be used from local taxation already in place.

2) Economic development - We must seek out and pursue new business development for the city and region.  We would need to work in conjunction with county and regional leaders to review incentive packages and local laws and tax codes, in order to improve the business climate.  We would also need to develop a new business development team, made up of governmental, community, and business leaders that could provide a network of resources for new businesses wishing to locate (or re-locate) here.

3) Sustainability - We must work on our water and other natural resources so that we can support our growing community into the future.  If we can provide cleaner water, both our citizens and businesses can trust the resource and learn how vital it is to our future.  We must also focus on community-based recycling, improving it beyond it's current limited scope.  We must support our local Farmer's Market, and sustainable crops for the community to produce, market, and consume.

Question 3: 

How would you prioritize funding or policy changes towards a better, cleaner water system? What do you think those changes look like?

My knowledge is limited on the current status of our water, but as a local business owner, I see the direct effect of questionable water  There are some days the water is brown and simply unusable.

We must, first, determine the current status of our water system.  How clean is the water?  Is it safe?  What levels of pollution are there and what are the causes?

Then, with local, state, and federal agencies, we must determine a path forward.  How can any potential problems be corrected?  We must work with local businesses to help them avoid contaminating our water.  Let's determine a strategy, with a set timeline of goals for improvement, and quantifiable testing regimens, and produce results.  Funding for improvements must be sought out with these partner agencies.

Question 4: 

How do you see city council partnered with county government to improve infrastructure and quality of life here?

I'm a newer resident of Whitesburg, having moved here a little over a year ago, Previously I lived in Lexington for twenty years, where there is a merged city-county government system.  I would strongly encourage Letcher County and it's municipal cities to explore this idea as it is a huge savings with consolidation of services and funding.  That is a longer-term project though. 

Short-term the city and county must partner together and prioritize infrastructure projects, possibly combining resources to minimize costs when possible.  Communication is the key here.  If city and county officials work together, money can be spent wisely.  To alleviate personal conflicts, an overall priority system for improvements should be developed with city and county leaders.  Then projects could be graded on their priority status, and when funding is available, the next highest priority project could be tackled.  There should also be citizen input on this approach.  Rather than hearing about a street that needs paved in "Speak Your Piece," there could be community meetings to seek input.  Again communication between citizens and government officials is key to overall improvement of the area.

Question 5: 

What would you do to educate more citizens about recycling and boil water advisories?

Boil water advisories MUST be publicized to our citizens.  First, we must explain to citizens what a boil advisory means and what must be done when one is in effect.  Then a system of notification should be put into place (radio, television, robo-calls, email/text alerts) that alerts our citizens of the status, how long it is in effect, and the reason why.  Many times our citizens are left questioning the status of our water, and there are no real answers given.  Our local government and water officials must be held accountable.

For recycling, as I mentioned above, this is a long-term sustainability concern to me.  We must explain the importance of recycling to our citizens and businesses.  We must partner with local businesses and develop an overall city recycling program.  This could be modeled after other city recycling programs.  We must also make this program profitable.  The more volume of product we collect, we not only help our future generations, but we are generating money from the proceeds of recycling.  We must also explore the possibility of increasing items that can be recycled.  A renewed focus and partnership must occur between the city and county on the recycling center and it's worth to the area. If we encourage our citizens to recycle, we can, over time, potentially halt increased garbage bills, as we reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.

Question 6: 

How would you work to attract more business to Whitesburg?

As I mentioned previously, we must partner with local and regional leaders to review the current business climate here.  We need to review applicable ordinances and taxation codes to see what may be discouraging businesses from locating here, and improve them.  

We must also focus on preparing our citizens to be the workforce of tomorrow.  Partnering with local school systems, we must identify and define opportunities and career paths for future workers, helping them learn the skills needed to work in various job environments from service industry to vocational jobs to technological jobs of the future. For older unemployed individuals, we must provide job-training as applicable, so that they may learn skills to re-enter the workforce.

We also must think long-term about access to business locations, and re-development opportunities within Whitesburg.  We must have the infrastructure (including technological infrastructure - high speed internet capability), the resources, and the capacity for profit-generation to entice businesses here.

Question 7: 

Would you be in favor of passing a fairness ordinance to ensure that people cannot be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or gender identity?

Yes.  Everyone should be treated equally.  With that being said, we must educate our citizens and businesses on the long-term effects of discrimination and how by addressing that with a fairness ordinance, we can use that as an additional enticement for new business to locate and develop here. And by so-doing, we also promote a community of acceptance and respect for all.

Question 8: 

How would you work to create and upgrade more affordable housing in the city of Whitesburg?

The city must partner with landowners, builders, and investors to develop a city-wide plan for improved and re-conditioned housing.  Currently, the housing market in Whitesburg is extremely tight, driving up rental costs.  We must encourage new development of long term projects that will address the shortage of housing units within the city  The city and county may need to provide incentives to encourage these types of projects.  Abandoned, dilapidated, or unsafe properties must be dealt with by county or state codes enforcement.  Efforts must be made between government and private citizens for longer term infrastructure improvements and enhancements.

Question 9: 

Community and economic development in eastern Kentucky is becoming increasingly regional. How will you collaborate with people throughout Letcher County and beyond to break down “silos” and improve our communities?

County and city officials in conjunction with business leaders and citizens must partner together and develop a long-term plan for community improvement.  To attract new business, we must have the infrastructure in place, available resources for business development, and the ability for businesses to generate income and profit. 

We must learn from other communities, and using our own imagination and talents, re-envision the future for our own local area.  Set a plan, with achieveable goals, define endpoints, and review as needed.  Short and long term plans for the area should be coordinated, making the most of governmental resources to improve the area overall.

Question 10: 

The Letcher County Farmer’s Market is one of the most successful in the area. What is your vision for fresh, local food and agriculture in our community?

I am impressed with the current status of the Farmer's Market but would love to see it continue to grow and succeed.  As a part of my sustainability concerns, we must promote agriculture as a workforce generator for this area.  Local farmers, citizens, and businesses can work together to develop growing seasons, what products are successful in this climate, and how they can be produced, marketed, and used by end-consumers.  

I currently own a restaurant in downtown Whitesburg, and have partnered with several local farmers to use what they produce throughout the entire year.  We must show others that this model works - we can grow our own food here, in the quantities needed, and support future sustainability in the process.

Question 11: 

There have been racial tensions in Whitesburg for the past few years, from Islamophobia and the #WhitesburgForAll movement to police & community harassment towards allies of Black Lives Matter. Demographics are changing, and by 2020, children of color will outnumber white children. How will you ensure that Whitesburg is inclusive of people of all races?

The primary reason for discrimination is fear of the unknown.  Our citizens have historically been sheltered from others different from them.  Generations of poverty and under-emphasized educational systems, along with a climate promoting intolerance of minorities, has gotten us to our current situation.

We must begin a conversation with each other about those different than us, one that is not defined by fear, but one that is lead by community, business, civic, and church leaders.  Beyond education, we must also expect equality for all, making it the norm, and set about protections and enforcement of those protections, as needed.

Question 12: 

Whitesburg has had a tight budget for the past few years. What are potential new sources of revenue, or what parts of the budget would you cut?

I am unfamiliar with the current city budget, however, my goal is to become more informed about the revenue sources for the city and the city's expenses as my campaign continues.  One of my campaign platforms is Accountability and Transparency.  The city should provide monthly public reports of it's revenue and expenses.  All areas of the budget should be scrutinized.  In an increasingly tight economic period, we must learn to do more with less, pooling resources with the county (or region) when possible.  I am an Accountant and Business Owner by trade, so I would expect the same type of accountability for city government as I use for my private business - we must have the revenues to pay for justifiable expenses.  If we do not have proper revenue sources, we must review and improve those.  Expenses should be prioritized on a monthly/yearly basis, with every effort being make to spend our taxpayers' money responsibly.

Question 13: 

How will you foster civic engagement and encourage participatory decision-making among Whitesburg residents?

My candidacy is about listening to the concerns and opinions of our residents.  I am not running for office based upon my name; I am running for office on a platform of ideas that I have developed from living and running a business in Whitesburg.  Every day I get to hear the concerns of people coming through my business.  I am enlightened by their thoughts and concerns with the city, but am encouraged that there is so much civic interest here.  

I would like to begin a set of monthly community forums (possibly prior to the monthly council meeting) where citizens can bring concerns and questions of their elected representatives.  Again, the best way for government to work is to listen to the concerns of it's citizens. Working together, we can build a better future!