Monticello Mayor Jeff Edwards entered the political arena at 24 when he was elected to Monticello City Council, after losing his first campaign for office at 22. Now at 36, he’s in his second term as mayor and has an aggressive agenda to improve lives and bring more business to the small southern-Kentucky town.
TLR: What is your background?
JE: I was born in Northern Kentucky, but Monticello has been my home. I have an associate’s degree from Somerset Community College, a bachelor of arts from Eastern Kentucky University and recently started my master’s of public administration through EKU. Prior to being elected mayor of Monticello in 2010, I served three terms on the Monticello City Council. I worked as a real estate principal broker for eight years prior to election.
TLR: What made you want to get into politics, and what are your goals?
JE: I’ve always had an interest in government and our community as well as our state. I first ran for City Council with the hopes of becoming more involved in our community and with the hopes of changing a mindset that just because we are a smaller rural town it doesn’t mean we cannot improve the quality of life for our people and give them the opportunities that they deserve.
TLR: As mayor, what are you bringing to Monticello?
JE: Since being elected mayor, we have made an effort to invest in our infrastructure. We completed a $13 million new water treatment plant, an $8 million upgrade to our waste water treatment plant, and recently began upgrading our broadband internet and fiber. We are working on upgrading the overall appearance of our community and improving the quality of life. We started a new Parks and Recreation Department. We are about to begin work on a new Artisan Center in downtown Monticello. We also have been working toward a new Senior Citizens Center in downtown Monticello.
TLR: Did you ever feel intimidated to enter politics being so young?
JE: I have never felt intimidated because I am doing things I believe in and feel confident about. Some people may look at a younger person through a different lens at first; however, if given the opportunity, through hard work, passion and determination, you can overcome that.
TLR: I understand you have a busy life outside of your role as mayor.
JE: I have had the opportunity to serve on many local boards and committees, to serve on the KLC Board of Directors and last year had the privilege of being part of the Leadership Kentucky class of 2015. I am a long-time member of the Monticello Lions Club, serving two years as president.
On a personal level, I’ve made eight trips over the last four years with First Baptist of Monticello to the share the love of Jesus with the indigenous people in the Southern Yauyos region of Peru in the Andes Mountains. We have served in 12 villages in the Catahuasi area doing everything from Bible schools, art projects, teaching English and playing soccer. —Abby Laub