Incumbent, newcomer file for Bardstown City Council

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By Randy Patrick

Dones wants to deliver value to taxpayers


The Bardstown City Council’s only unelected member, David Dones, is running for a full two-year term after having served 15 months in that role.

“I don’t think the city taxpayers have gotten their money out of me yet,” he said when asked why he’s running again.

He said there are several capital projects he has been working on that he “would like to see come to fruition,” and he thinks that after several months of learning on the job, he has a better understanding of “the inner workings of the city” and the budget process, and could contribute more in a second term.

Dones, 55, ran in 2016 as part of the unofficial slate that included former mayor Dick Heaton, former councilman Joe Buckman, and John Kelley, a former county attorney. All but Dones were elected, and he finished seventh in a six-person race, so when Mayor John Royalty was removed from office for misconduct in April 2017 and the council chose Heaton as mayor, it also appointed Dones to fill Heaton’s council position.

At the time, Sheckles said that Dones had “expertise that none of us have” in electrical systems and civil and mechanical engineering, and also had knowledge of water and sewer systems.

Dones has his own electrical contracting business, which has been heavily involved in the past couple of years in wiring Bardstown distilleries. He has also raised funds for United Way.

“I’ve been extremely busy with my own personal business … which doesn’t afford me a lot of time to spend on city business,” Dones said after the council meeting Tuesday. “I study my materials, I do everything that I should be doing for the city, but I think I can do more.”

Dones said he likes all the present council members and the mayor and likes working with them.

“We have a mutual respect for one another, I think, that carries over into the responsibilities to the city. I think that we can civilly and intelligently discuss issues that really help us move the city’s business along. I love working with these people, I love working with the mayor, and, hopefully, he’ll be re-elected, and we can continue this good work,” Dones said.

Dones, a native of Bardstown, and his wife, Danna, live in the city’s Historic District. They have three children: Taylor Ballard, Wes and Emma, and are members of St. Joseph Parish. He is a musician, part of a contemporary choir at the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral, and has volunteered for Bethlehem High School.

Shanks says youth an asset on City Council

At 32, Nicholas Shanks is young for elected office, but he thinks the Bardstown City Council could use a younger person’s perspective.

And, although he has never held office before, he has family roots in public service.

He is the son of Sharon Shanks, longtime director of the Nelson County Public Library, and her ex-husband, Ron. His grandfather, William Cross, served on both the Bardstown Independent School Board and the City Council for many years.

He also believes his life experiences and background make him a good fit.

Shanks, who grew up in Bardstown, is an Army veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and in Korea.

He is a graduate of Bardstown High School, attended the University of Louisville and will complete a degree in industrial maintenance at Elizabethtown Community College in December.

He and his wife, Amanda St. Clair Shanks, have two children together, daughter Brooklyn, 4, and son Noah, 3, and he has a stepson, Caleb, who is 9.

He works as a quality engineer for Mitsuba of Bardstown.

“As a quality engineer, I have an intimate understanding of the needs of manufacturing,” what companies look for in choosing Bardstown and what keeps them here, Shanks said. One thing he’s noticed is that there is a lack of skilled labor here and “not a robust enough pipeline” of workers to the city. If elected, he said, he would like to work with other government officials to bring an ECTC satellite campus to Bardstown and encourage residential development.

“The bourbon industry is great, but I work in automotives, and I know what they look for and what we need to invest in. And to go along with that, we need more housing, because you’ve got to have someplace to put people when they work here.”

Too many young adults from Bardstown are going away from home to look for opportunities, he said.

“I know I’m young, but I’m a fast learner and a good listener, and I’d like to be more involved in my local government and learn more about it,” Shanks said. “I’m good at getting people to do what I want them to do, although I’m not necessarily their boss. I’m a skilled negotiator. And I’m a caring person. I care about my community and the residents of Bardstown.”

Shanks thinks his managerial and engineering background would be good assets for city government.

“You learn a lot of life lessons in management,” he said.

The City Council is a nonpartisan office, but Shanks is involved in Democratic politics. He is secretary of Young Democrats of Nelson County and serves on the Nelson County Democratic Executive Committee. His wife is also a leader of the Young Democrats.