Mayor says several factors led to Paducah Economic Development CEO’s firing

PADUCAH — After four years, Paducah Economic Development is looking for a new leader. Former president and CEO Scott Darnell was fired last week by the PED Executive Committee after his contract was just extended back in June of this year.

Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless is a member of the executive committee. She says even though Darnell performed well in some areas, the committee felt it was time to move in a different direction.

“Scott performed well in many areas — there is no doubt about it — but this was a professional decision that was made by 10 professional people,” Harless says.

Harless says even though Darnell’s contract was extended in June, there wasn’t an individual instance that made the executive committee fire him.

“I think the group of people who serve on that committee are very upstanding people and leaders in our community, and I know they would never make a decision based on one incident,” says Harless.

But, Harless says, there were some communication concerns that stuck out.

“There were some text messages sent. It wasn’t about a government official necessarily, some people say it had a tone, some would say it didn’t have a tone that definitely was one incident, but it wasn’t enough to make this decision. There were concerns before the contract was renewed, before that situation happened,” says Harless.

Harless says it’s nothing more than a change in leadership.

“There is nothing hidden here. This was legitimately a professional decision made by professional people, and I hope our community can understand that,” Harless says.

The PED board will meet in the coming days to discuss an interim CEO to appoint.