WILLIAMSON — David Jewell is hopeful that his financial background will help him become Williamson’s next mayor when voters head to the polls in the city’s general election Tuesday, June 8.
Running as a Republican, Jewell is facing off against Democrat incumbent Mayor Charlie Hatfield. With the council races already determined in the primary election, the mayor’s race is the only one contested in the June 8 general election.
Jewell has worked in the accounting and finance field since 1997 and currently serves as the chief financial officer (CFO) of Williamson Health and Wellness Center, a position he has held since November 2017. Prior to that, he worked as the first director of finance for the Appalachian Wireless Arena (then called the Eastern Kentucky Expo Center) in Pikeville, Kentucky, and then served for a decade as the CFO for Coalfield Community Action Partnership in Williamson.
Jewell says his background in financial and leadership positions inspired him to take a shot at running for mayor this year, noting that he believes he could be a unifying voice for the city.
“Going through this pandemic, I thought that there was a need for somebody to come in that had a lot of experience in finance,” Jewell said. “It’s been rough on all these communities, especially Williamson, and I thought with my financial background and my leadership, I could help turn it around, that I could unify everybody and give it a bigger sense of community. I’ve been blessed all my life to be in leadership positions, even in high school and college, and my whole professional career, I’ve always taken pride in being able to bring everybody together and work toward a good cause.”
If elected, Jewell said his goals would be working with other communities across county lines, building upon the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System and tourism and being transparent with the city’s finances by having it all online for public access. Jewell also said he would advocate for bringing in another industry, saying that he believes manufacturing is the ticket.
“There’s all kinds of manufacturing,” Jewell said. “We just need one good business that’s about 200 to 300 jobs, like a manufacturing place, you know, a bullet manufacturing … any kind of manufacturing. People around here like to work with their hands. They like the hunting and fishing industry. If we can get something that focused on that. I think that would be a really good start and other businesses can bounce off that. It will just take one big manufacturing type of company to come in, and then we’ll be able to piggyback off of that, I believe.”
Jewell said infrastructure upgrades — especially broadband — are crucial to bringing in such an industry.
“One of the keys is to bring broadband into, especially, downtown Williamson and the business district and to shoot off from there,” Jewell said. “If these places don’t have good Internet, then you’re never going to get these businesses in. There’s some roads that need to be worked on downtown that’s looking a little raggedy, and then up on Vinson Street and some of the other roads where there’s hills, there’s some cave-in concerns.”
Jewell said he will pursue grant opportunities for such projects.
“There’s a bad sewer smell downtown and I know it’s because the plant’s there, but there’s got to be a way to go after some grants and find some money,” Jewell said. “A lot of the businesses suffer because it kind of stinks a lot of times downtown, so definitely, infrastructure is going to be key, especially broadband.”
Jewell said his workplace, Williamson Health and Wellness Center, is already working with AEP on a broadband feasibility study that he said will hopefully help bring broadband to the city’s business district in the next few years.
If elected, Jewell said community involvement and residents’ input will be a key component to his success as mayor.
“You’re going to have to have buy-in from the community,” Jewell said. “I think that’s going to be to my advantage because I think that I am a good leader and I can rally people behind me, but you’ve got to go out to them and hold town meetings and ward meetings and meet with all the different wards — one, two, three and four — you’ve got to go out to them and make them feel a part of it and make sure their opinions matter and even if we decide to go a different way, that their opinion matters and that they have as much buy-in to this city as anybody, because it’s really their city. It’s all the citizens’ community. I would just be the leader and do what they want.”
Additionally, Jewell said he thinks he has the skills to work with council as one unit.
“I can work with anybody,” Jewell said. “I treat everybody the same, whether they’re a CEO or a janitor, their opinions matter, and they’re all important to the community, and I think that I’ll have the leadership ability to bring everybody together and work as one unit, because out of 3,000 people, the greatest number we can ever be is one.”