Ask a Candidate: Brandi Harless says Paducah needs new leadership

The five candidates for Paducah mayor will be narrowed down to two on May 17. On the ballot is incumbent Mayor Gayle Kaler, Brandi Harless, Buzz Vontesmar, Arthur Baskin, and Louis “Elliot” Polach.

Wednesday, we spoke with Brandi Harless. She was born in Paducah and calls Lowertown home today. “My mom says this sometimes. She’s like, ‘Well, if you’re going to be here, then I know you’re going to try to make a difference,’” Harless said.

Harless tells us she’s running for mayor because she sees Paducah has so much potential. Harless says she respects current leadership, but has a different vision for the next generation.

”There are so many neighborhoods that are missing out on that revitalization,” Harless said. “We’ve got to figure out how to do it quicker. It took us 15 years to revitalize two neighborhoods.” She says she firmly believes in using what the city has: the people and the landscape. That’s why she and her husband invested in downtown by turning vacant buildings into business.

If elected, Harless says she would take a good look at the budget before making decisions on ongoing projects like riverfront development. She says costs could mean the area should be turned into a green space. She says that would promote health, bring families together, and cost less.

What works for some cities like Ownesboro, Kentucky, according to Harless may not work for Paducah.

On the topic of Paducah City Hall, Harless believes it’s part of the city’s identity. ”I do think there are some very minimal things that we can do that would justify keeping our city hall," she said. "And, I’m going to be honest, I don’t even know why we considered building a new one in the first place.”

Harless says a city is like a nonprofit in that it caters to the needs the people and that revenue and budget are key to make sure it stays afloat. Harless has experience working with two nonprofits: St. Nicholas Family Clinic and EntrePaducah. 

She says a Brandi Harless for Mayor kick-off event is scheduled for Jan. 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Grand Lodge. To RSVP, email

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