Bowling Green Mayor Elaine Walker’s departure will bring the city’s first black mayor, Joe Denning, into office.
Walker is leaving next month to become Kentucky secretary of state, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Friday following the resignation of current Secretary of State Trey Grayson.
Denning, as mayor pro tem, will automatically be the mayor until the commission appoints a permanent mayor. The commission has 30 days following Walker’s resignation to do so. If no one is appointed, then the governor steps in, according to City Clerk Katie Schaller.
“(Becoming mayor) is not anything I had been out there working for,” Denning said Friday. “I certainly look forward to it and look forward to working with the city commissioners.”
A Daily News reporter told Denning on Friday about Walker leaving for Frankfort. He said he was shocked about Walker’s departure, but said he and the commission will continue to do whatever it takes to make Bowling Green a place people want to live.
Walker said she hopes that Denning will be appointed to the mayor’s office.
“He has earned it by the number of votes he received in the election,” she said.
Denning received 7,660 votes in November, followed by Bruce Wilkerson’s 7,391. Bill Waltrip received 6,554 and Brian “Slim” Nash received 4,729.
Nash said Friday he is not closed to the idea of pursuing the mayorship and hasn’t made a decision yet. He said he planned to let the announcement settle before deciding how to proceed.
“I have had interest in pursuing the position of mayor for some time. I don’t know if this is the right time,” Nash said.
Nash said he had been discussing a campaign for mayor in the 2012 election with those close to him and was hoping to use the next six to eight months to decide if he would seek election in 2012.
“I want citizens of BG to know that the city will continue to move forward and prosper,” Nash said.
Nash said the commission is bigger than one person and no matter whether he, another commissioner or the mayor left his or her position, it’s his hope that the organization is strong enough to move forward.
Nash said his mouth dropped open upon hearing the news, and said it took several minutes for him to close it.
“I wish Elaine the very best and I wish the commonwealth the very best,” Nash said.
Nash said the city had four very competent leaders still on the commission.
“This will be a little more than a bump in the road as we get further down the road,” he said.