The three individuals elected to the Washington Court House City Council at Tuesday’s general election, according to unofficial results from the Fayette County Board of Elections, were Jim Blair, Jim Chrisman and Kendra Redd-Hernandez.
Out of the five candidates who ran for council (Kathie Oesterle and Jason Gilmore ran as well), Blair won the majority of (unofficial) votes at 1,414. His term will begin on Jan. 1 of 2020, although he has been regularly attending council and committee meetings as a citizen for the past couple of months.
“We’re excited about the future,” said Blair.
“I feel very privileged and to be really honest with you, when I started out the journey it was just me and my wife,” he explained. “I didn’t have a campaign team and place. Everything just fell together, and I got put into contact with some key people that walked streets, knocked on doors for me and gave me some great advice.”
“I also give credit to God for giving me guidance and direction and wisdom on how to run this campaign,” he said. “I kept myself very out of the mix of the controversy. From day one I said I wanted to run on my own record—I didn’t attach myself to anybody at all and it worked out.”
Blair explained that in the remaining months leading up to the start of his term, he’ll be researching and looking into various aspects that will be involved in his position on council.
“My primary goal between now and January is to become more educated about the various committees and the workings of the government,” said Blair.
“I’m going to be doing a lot of digging and homework, a lot of reading and research on a lot of ordinances,” he explained. “I also want to look at the charter very carefully. I’ve read it over and I feel like there are some areas that can be clarified just a little bit that perhaps overlaps between the city council and city manager. That’s the main thing my focus is on right now—I want it to be readable and understandable for the public and the people.”
According to Blair, he would like the charter to be readable by anyone in the community, rather than having “to be an attorney to understand what’s being said.”
“I’m all about clarity,” he said. “I think the least educated person in our city should be able to understand the workings of the city government.”
When asked about the transparency concern of some members of the community and how “clarity” may link to transparency, Blair explained that clarity may be a better term to use and referenced some recent reactions that have occurred when the topic of transparency has come up.
“I don’t think anybody should be on the defensive,” he said. “I don’t think anybody is challenging or questioning the integrity (of the city or council) or that things are going on underhandedly behind the scenes. I think clarity is a better word because it does open it up so you’re not personally attacking anybody or saying they’re hiding anything. You just want to make it where anybody can understand what’s going on, and they’re not afraid to ask questions.”
“I want to thank everyone that has put their confidence in me. I will do my very best to live up to the confidence of not only the ones that voted for me but also for the ones that didn’t. I will represent everyone in the city irregardless,” said Blair. “I am feeling truly blessed tonight.”
Chrisman and Redd-Hernandez are already on council and will continue their services through the rest of this year and into the terms beginning in January.
Chrisman has been on council for various terms and is currently the council chairperson. He took second place in the race with 1,328 (unofficial) votes.
He owns the local business Chrisman’s H2O Conditioning and has said during past conversations with the R-H that he cares deeply about the community and its needs. Chrisman was unavailable for comment after the election results were announced as he was picking up campaign signs from yards.
Redd-Hernandez has served on council for one term and took third place in the election with 1,327 (unofficial) votes. She is a local business owner of Back-En-Thyme Flower & Gift Shop.
“I’m just happy that good outweighs evil,” said Redd-Hernandez. “I think that’s what it really comes down to because there were people that really tried to eliminate me with lies, and that was proven it doesn’t work.”
“I greatly appreciate the people who did vote for me and that stood by me no matter what,” she said. “I’m excited that I get to go ahead and proceed with all the unique things that are going to go on downtown and throughout our community that are already in the works.”
When asked about goals for the upcoming term Redd-Hernandez explained, “I don’t think that would be fair to say because we work as a team. So, individual goals don’t always work—I think that the team goals do. I think we’ve got great momentum and we’re moving forward with economic development. So I would say, just proceed with what we’re already doing and hopefully bring all those items that are in the pipelines to fruition. “
Oesterle received 1,071 votes and Gilmore received 862 votes.
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JenniferMWoods.