As Election Day comes quickly around the corner on Nov. 3, Oak Grove City Council candidates are gearing up for a debate Sunday.
Prior to the debate, Oak Grove residents may be interested in who is running for council and what their backgrounds are.
All six current council members are looking to keep their seats on the council and continue the work they have been doing for the city.
Jackie Oliver has been an Oak Grove resident for 26 years and has served on the council for the last four years.
Oliver is a retired restaurant manager, who managed several restaurants in the Oak Grove area.
Oliver shared with the New Era that she hopes to be re-elected so that she can continue to help her constituents.
“My primary goal has always been to help out the citizens of Oak Grove,” Oliver said. “I truly try to help out the citizens and make sure their tax dollars are being spent the proper way.”
Kisha Mische-Jeffrey has served on the council for six years and has been a resident for the last 10 years.
Jeffrey medically retired from the U.S. Army after five years in the service and recently volunteered with the Census Bureau.
Jeffrey shared she hopes to be re-elected in order to finish the work that she and the current council have started.
“I’ve fought long and hard for a lot of public safety and social welfare issues in our community and that work is not done,” Jeffrey said. “I would be honored to continue to fight for the needs of our residents.”
Jean Leavell has served on the council for a total of 13 years and even served a term as Mayor from 1999 to 2002. Leavell has been a resident for a total of 42 years.
Leavell is currently retired after working for BellSouth (now AT&T) in Oak Grove for 30 years.
Leavell said that she wants to be re-elected so that the people of Oak Grove can use her experience.
“I’m bringing a lot of experience to council and my love for Oak Grove,” she said. “I want to make sure that things are done right and just to help the community.”
Isaiah Spencer has been on the council for only two years having just served his first term on the council.
Spencer is a 24-year resident who retired from the Army after 22 years in the service and has volunteered as a mentor with the veteran court system for the last two years.
Spencer stated that he wants to continue to serve as city councilman for the love of his city.
“I want to make my city healthy to attract people to come to Oak Grove and make us grow,” Spencer said.
James McKnight has served on the council for a total of 9 1/2, is a 32-year Oak Grove resident and is retired from both the Army and the U.S. Postal Service. McKnight served in the Army for 22 years and worked for USPS for 15 years.
McKnight shared that he wants to be re-elected so that he may continue to contribute to the recent work the council has been doing.
“We’ve done a lot of housekeeping (on the council), but it’s not done,” McKnight said.
“We started these things, invested time, money and everything else and we need to culminate them and finish them up …. That’s what I want to do, I want to continue with the work that we’ve been doing.”
Janet Edwards has served on the council for the last 10 years and has lived in the city for the last 20 years.
Edwards is an Air Force veteran having served four years, has 10 years experience as a paralegal and has worked as the operations manager for the Oak Grove Walmart for the last 20 years.
Edwards shared that when she first ran for council, she had a vision in her mind for what she wanted Oak Grove to be. She said that she wanted to be re-elected so that she may continue to work toward that vision.
“I still want to bring more businesses and industry to Oak Grove,” Edwards said.
“I want to see the (KY-911 expansion) completed, but above and beyond all that, I just have a really big passion for Oak Grove. I love this place and the people here and I have a lot to offer to help Oak Grove continue to develop and grow.”
There are seven new candidates vying for a spot on the council this year, come this November.
John Campbell is a six-year Oak Grove resident who has been a local business owner since this June. This is the first time Campbell is running for city council.
Campbell shared with the New Era that he hopes to be elected as he wants to see change on the council and for the city.
“I want to see change or at least some type of groundwork for change,” Campbell said. “Whether the current or mayor would like to believe it or not, the city is growing regardless and certain things need to be able to happen to protect our citizens. We need someone who is for a paid fire department, we need to see a few more police on the road and maybe give this city a direction to where he have something to follow later.”
Edward Cook has been an Oak Grove resident for just over a year now. He is a retired police officer after serving 30+ years on the force at North Western University and University of Chicago.
This is Cook’s first time running for council, but had served as a GOP delegate in Illinois in 2016, he said.
He shared that he hopes to be elected to council to bring new ideas to the council and the city.
“I want to bring a lot of new ideas and help Oak Grove move forward,” Cook said. “I think we need to bring businesses in and listen to the taxpayers and citizens.”
Roger Joiner is a 6-year Oak Grove resident who is running for a council seat for the second time. Joiner shared that he had made seventh place in the election run in 2018, narrowly missing a chance to be on the council.
Joiner is currently retired from USPS after working there for 10 years.
Joiner shared that he hopes to be elected this time around in order to help the city improve.
“I want to see the city improve and put an end to the stuff that goes on all the time,” he said. “A lot of it is pretty obvious that there’s something not right and nothing ever gets done. I want to watch the (council) like a hawk.”
Justine Alberty is an 18-year resident of Oak Grove and currently works as a contracted aviation mechanic on Fort Campbell. Alberty is Army veteran who served 10 years in the service.
Alberty shared that it’s her first time running for a council seat and hopes to be elected to do her part in creating change for the city.
“There’s been too much of the ‘This is how we’ve always done it,’ going on,” she said. “We need change. That’s pretty much the gist of it — we need some change around here.”
Richard Lestienne Jr. has lived in Oak Grove for the last 12 years and served two years as an Oak Grove volunteer firefighter.
Lestienne has worked for the Department of the Army as law enforcement for almost one year, he shared.
While he ran for Oak Grove Mayor up against current Mayor Theresa Jarvis in 2018, this year is his first time running for city council.
Lestienne shared that he wants to be elected to work to bring change to the city.
“There is a lot in Oak Grove that needs to change,” he said. “There’s a lot of changes that have always been promised or said that it would happen and nothing is ever delivered upon. So, as with my push for mayor (in 2018), I just look to effect change in the city of Oak Grove.”
Tim Johnson is a 26-year resident of Oak Grove who had served on city council for 10 years between 2008 and 2018.
Johnson is retired from the Army after serving 20 years and hopes to be re-elected to the council after he said he was asked by several citizens to return to the council.
“I had a lot of residents in Oak Grove ask me to run again because we need somebody on the council that is interested in what’s good for the city and the residents,” he said. “So, that is my main purpose for running.”
Oak Grove resident John Dollinger is also vying for a seat on the council. The New Era reached out to Dollinger for comments, but he did not respond.