Homer Mayor: Looking Beyond the Coal Mine
By Jeff Bossert
The new mayor of Homer says a proposed coal mine was the driving force behind voter turnout Tuesday. But Ray Cunningham says prior dealings with Indiana-based Sunrise Coal won’t be an issue now.
That includes filling two vacant board seats. Unofficial totals show Roy Woodmansee was re-elected, and Susan Forsyth is now on the board after they received 154 and 128 votes respectively.
But the third highest vote total (109) belonged to Kevin Knott, who resigned his seat in March after the board approved the sale of treated water to Sunrise on a 4-3 vote.
The second board vacancy was made by Cunningham, who resigned his seat to run unopposed for mayor.
Forsyth and Woodmansee are mining opponents, while Cunningham voted last month for the sale of treated water to Sunrise. All board members voted unanimously to reject the sale of raw water to the company at Monday’s board meeting.
Cunningham says many have expressed interest in the vacant seats. He said community development should be the key issue now, as Homer has lost about 50 households over the course of the recession.
"Right now, we're really concerned with that demographic downturn," he said. "Maintaining the streets, the water system, and being fiscally responsible."
Cunningham said there’s no telling if any further business related to the mine will come before Homer.
The lowest vote totals in the board race were for former mayor David Lucas (71) and Larry Minge (65.) Mike Johnson and Guy James remain on the board.
Cunningham says filling the vacant seats will be the first order of business at Homer’s next board meeting May 6th.
UPDATE: Kevin Knott said Friday after receiving the third-highest vote total Tuesday and talking with a lot of residents, he's reconsidered his resignation. He will be joining the new Homer Village Board, meaning Mayor Cunningham will only have to fill one vacant seat.
"I'm not doing this for attention," Knott said. "it's a new mayor, and kind a new board. We'll have to see what kind of direction it goes."
Cunningham said Billy Mitchell, who was right behind Knott Tuesday with 103 votes, is one of many under consideration for the vacant board seat.