Women win unprecedented gains in West Buechel city council after election

WEST BUECHEL, Ky. (WDRB) -- Never in history has West Buechel seen election results like what happened at the polls Tuesday night, when female candidates won six of the seven city races on the ballot.

The election win follows complaints of corruption, fraud and missing taxpayer money, but one lewd gesture may have swayed the vote.

"After a while, you need some new thoughts and new ideas," said Councilwoman-Elect Bonnie Manning. "I was just tired of the upheaval in our council meetings."

Manning is one of five new female faces elected to the city council in West Buechel. She's lived two blocks away from city hall for 40 years and won office as a first time candidate at age 77. 

"You can sit around and talk 'I want this done, and I want that done' but you have to get up and do it," Manning said.

Action was a common refrain from the wave of women taking office for the next two year term. They said they were fed up, frustrated and sick of angry city council meetings that ended in fights between the current council members and Mayor Rick Richards.

"I don't like the bickering and feuding they had going on," Councilwoman-Elect Evelyn Saldana.

It's Saldana's first time in public office, and she said priorities are to start a senior program and more programming for children in the town's community center. 

The wave of women won on a night that saw low voter turnout from West Buechel residents. The city's council elections are non-partisan, and the top six vote-getters won the seat with pay of $300 a month.

"I was real surprised, because I didn't get out and campaign, because I had a stroke about a month ago," Councilwoman-Elect Rhonda Sanders said. 

Sanders received the most votes of any council candidate as 138 people marked her name on the ballot. She'd served on the West Buechel Council from 2004 to 2010. 

The new council takes on a city in turmoil. West Buechel is under state and federal investigation for complaints of corruption, fraud and missing taxpayer money.

In addition to the lady-led council, voters also elected former councilwoman Brenda Kay Moore to be the mayor. Incumbent Mayor Rick Richards only received 33 out of 244 votes.

"We need to come together as a community and stick together and fight for each other instead of fighting each other," voter Jeanie Arthur said, adding that she believes the female sweep came down to one thing:

"What Crawford and all them had done."

She was referring to a lewd gesture made by now-outgoing Councilman Loy Crawford to a female city worker during a public meeting. Despite the gesture being visible to a number of people, the male-dominated council refused to remove him from office.

"It's kind of sickening," Arthur said.

John Campbell is the lone incumbent, the last man standing after Tuesday's vote. He said the new team must be more transparent, complete a budget and an audit as first priorities. 

"We told him he has a harem now, because we're all women," Manning said with a laugh.

All joking aside, Manning echoed Saldana's goal for senior and child programming and the plan to get the city's finances in order, and she has full faith they'll get the job done.

"I believe there will be more communication, because women like to talk," she said.

West Buechel has a population of about 1,200 people and a $3 million budget. It's home to some of the highest taxes in the state.

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