First mayor contest in 16 years

Seth Weber and Seth Weber

Local business owner Kelly Wicks is ready to take a new step in his career by entering the race for Bowling Green mayor, making this the first contested race in 16 years.

Although Wicks is bringing this change to the office, Mayor Richard Edwards is not concerned with campaigning.

“I’m going to concentrate on being mayor,” Edwards said. “I’m not defined nor will I be defined by a bumper sticker. I’m not particularly interested in the campaign. Others are going to have to do that for me. I’ve had a long and very distinguished career. People know me well … I don’t feel the need to go bugging people. I can’t say I’m going to go out there and be overly preoccupied with campaigning. The campaign will take care of itself.”

Wicks however, said he “sees real value in campaigning” and is excited about it.

He said his experience behind the counter will help him in the race. Working with customers has allowed him to get to know the community and allow them to become familiar with him, he said.

“One of the reasons why owning a shop would be beneficial, is for a long period of time I really have had daily interaction with all segments of the population here in Bowling Green,” Wicks said.

Grounds for Thought was founded by Wicks’ parents in 1989 and he took ownership two years later. Since then, the space has grown in size and offers a selection of about 250,000 books, movies and records.

Sam Melendez, a friend of Wicks and his campaign manager, said when Grounds for Thought was first built downtown “looked like it was run down,” but said Wicks and other local business owners helped renovate it.

“You don’t run a business on Main Street for 25 years without being a good manager.”

Laura Wicks, Wicks’ wife, started dating him when Grounds for Thought opened. She currently manages the finances of the shop, which she’s taken to the campaign as the treasurer.

As treasurer, Laura is responsible for the donations and expenses for the campaign.

She said Wicks’ work ethic at Grounds for Thought will translate well because not only does he work full time behind the counter but has to manage the business as well.

“I think one of Kelly’s strengths that would translate really well into mayor is he can take an idea, say Grounds for Thought, and take it from where it started,” she said.

Edwards has been working on the future land use plan and has set out goals to improve Bowling Green through things such as work on roads and housing. He has been doing this since he took office and is eager to see it through.

“One of the things that tipped the scale for me in terms of running again is the future land use study and the fact that we worked on so many issues and we see them coming together in a very positive way,” he said. “So there’s a lot of unfinished business.”

Melendez said Wicks’ “gung ho” attitude about politics can help the future land use plan move forward.

He also worked on Wicks’ 2012 race for House of Representatives, in which he was also campaign manager.

Wicks said he is ready for the coming campaign and the challenges that he’ll face.

”I never take on any project I’m not willing to sink my teeth into 100 percent and willing to give it my all,” he said.