Councilman and former mayor Heaton tapped to serve as city’s new mayor
By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio
Tuesday, March 18, 2017, 7 p.m. — Bardstown city councilman and former mayor Dick Heaton was named the city’s new mayor Tuesday evening by a unanimous vote of the Bardstown City Council.
Heaton’s selection was not entirely a surprise; following the ouster of former Mayor John Royalty last week, many members of the community anticipated Heaton would be tapped to fill Royalty’s unexpired term.
Nelson District Judge Jack Kelley administered the oath of office with Heaton’s wife, Alice standing by his side in front of an audience packed with family, well-wishers and members of the media.
After the oath, Heaton took his seat at the mayor’s chair and spoke briefly to the council and the community.
“I don’t want today and the days ahead to be about me or the person who previously occupied this office,” Heaton said. “Starting immediately, this needs to be about ‘us’ — all of us — all of us need to be united and pulling together in one direction to move the city forward and to restore the confidence and trust of the citizens we serve.”
He asked the community to have patience as he and the council move forward.
“Our brand is damaged, but its not destroyed,” he said.
Heaton promised that he and the council will work diligently to address the problems as quickly as possible
Despite the turmoil over the past couple of years, there have been a lot of good things happening the community, he said. He pointed to the continued vibrance of the city’s downtown, the investment in the community by business and industry, and the expansion of existing business and industry.
Heaton said he had no reservations about stepping back in as mayor.
“There’s been a lot of positive things happening over the past six years,” since he was last in office. “I’m used to hard work and I think I have a track record of getting things done.”
Heaton said the first order of business is to build the confidence and morale among city employees.
“People do a better job when they’re happy where they work,” he said. “I want to let them know they can come to me anytime they want to. We need to get the workplace environment improved and then things will go in the right direction.”
Heaton expressed confidence in the existing council’s willingness to move the city in a positive direction. He also said he was willing to revisit some of the interlocal agreements that were terminated during Mayor Royalty’s term in office.
“I’m open to revisiting those,” he said. “I had a very good working relationship with Judge Watts and I don’t think anything has changed that.”
The occupational tax increase the council approved last year will stand, Heaton said. The additional revenue is necessary to avoid spending reserves that are needed to fund utility projects. The city’s use of those reserve funds “had gotten out of hand,” he said. “The only way to change that is with additional revenue like the occupational license fee.”
Heaton is the third generation of his family to serve as mayor of Bardstown. His grandfather, J.F. Conway, served as mayor for nine years, and his uncle Guthrie “Gus” Wilson served as mayor for 24 years.