By BILL MARDIS
The name of an official of a Pulaski County recycling firm popped up as a possible candidate for mayor of Somerset after a story in the Commonwealth Journal last week about a mystery candidate for the city’s top office.
Alan Keck is no longer a mystery. The vice president and general manager of Somerset Recycling Services Inc., quickly confirmed that he and his wife are “prayerfully considering” his entering the race for mayor.
The 28-year-old Keck pretty much matches the description of a “strong” candidate favored by some members of Somerset-Pulaski County United (SPCU) to unseat Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler in next year’s elections. However, Keck emphatically stated “I am not anyone’s candidate.” Adhering to his company’s commitment to Christian values, morality and ethics, Keck declared: “I am a Christian.”
Keck said he has met with three or four members of SPCU ... “but I’ve met with many other people from all walks of life ... businessmen, teachers, attorneys ... to discuss the needs of Somerset.”
It’s no secret that SPCU, claiming 140 members, is upset with Mayor Girdler because of his potent rejection of an SPCU-sponsored study to determine feasibility of a united city-county government in Pulaski County. Both Somerset and Ferguson have opted out of the plan and Somerset City Council has directed the city’s legal department to get whatever help it needs to protect the integrity of the city’s boundaries.
Girdler refuses to meet with Luke B. Schmidt, consultant for the SPCU study, and Schmidt submitted an open-records request for information about Somerset’s governmental structure and financial records. Girdler claims the city is being harassed by Schmidt.
A few clues unearthed about a candidate SPCU might be backing to bring new leadership to city hall in 2015. The clues:
• “The candidate is young.” Keck is 28.
• “He is adept at using social media.” This was not discussed during the Commonwealth Journal’s conversation with Keck, but most young executives are familiar with these types of communications.
• “The potential candidate heads a company that hires about 100 workers.” Somerset Recycling Services, founded by Alan’s father, Steve, is a purchaser and processor of Paper and Plastics with more than 100 full time employees and in excess of 102,000 square feet of facilities.
• “A veteran local political reporter would hardly recognize the candidate’s name.” Keck expressed a desire to become more acquainted with the reporter.
Keck says he owns a house in the city and is currently establishing residency in the city.
Laura Ross, legal services counsel for the Kentucky League of Cities, says a candidate for mayor in any Kentucky city must be a resident of the city not less than one year prior to the election.
In fairness, it must be pointed out that SPCU is not a political organization. The group, headed by developer Brook Ping, is banded together by a study to determined if a united city-county government, creating a city with a population of more than 63,000, would be feasible and more efficient for Pulaski countians. SPCU emphasizes it supports the study, not unified governments.
SPCU as an organization has made no public statements regarding the mayor’s office in Somerset. However, individual members have indicated unhappiness with Mayor Girdler. The “clues” for a mayoral candidate that matched Keck came from a source inside SPCU,
Girdler has stated emphatically he will seek a third term. Jim Rutherford, a retired
Somerset police lieutenant and member of Somerset City Council, is the only otherperson at this point who has said publicly he is thinking about being a candidate for mayor.
The rumor mill has it that a couple of other members of Somerset City Council might be looking at the mayor’s office. They may have their fedora by the brim, but haven’t given it a toss.