Written by Andy McDonald for KYNews.org. Find the original story here.
First it was the anti-discrimination ordinance. Now it is the local initiative to have the city of Berea voice opposition to hydraulic fracking in southern Madison County.
Once again, Diane Kerby is stepping up to take the lead on an issue that’s not without some controversy. At the end of last week’s meeting before the Berea City Council, Kerby requested to have an item added to next week’s agenda.
Kerby is urging the city to draft an ordinance that would strongly state the city’s opposition to oil exploration in the area through the use of fracking, a practice the Kentucky Environmental Foundation has declared to be a threat to water, soil and air quality in Red Lick and other areas. Local environmental advocate Craig Williams provided a template for the ordinance.
Because there is relatively little local governments can do, from a regulatory standpoint (state and federal agencies oversee such issues) about fracking, there really isn’t much the city can do but make a statement and urge land owners to learn more about the potential impacts of fracking on their land. There are no teeth in the law per se, but the action is still significant in what it says about Kerby.
I wasn’t around when Cliff Kerby was on city council, but from what I have read, that’s how he got started on his path to city leadership – by taking stands that were perhaps unpopular to some folks, but ones that he felt were important nonetheless.
Once he took the helm at city hall, Cliff Kerby transitioned from activist mode to manager mode, trying to insure there would be smooth sailing when it came to running the city. Going out on a limb to confront controversial issues didn’t seem to interest him much. He had a city to run, after all. Diane Kerby, at least in her capacity as a council member, is still in activist mode. But could that change?
Voicing support for anti-fracking legislation is perhaps minor in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a demonstration of leadership, and a reminder that Kerby doesn’t mind rolling up her sleeves and going to work on a complicated policy area. That quality has made Steve Connelly interesting to watch as a council member and as mayor, and it has perhaps made Diane Kerby one to watch on the Berea City Council. Given her emergence as a leader on this city council, one wonders if, like her predecessors Kerby and Connelly, she is inclined to become Berea’s next chief executive.
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