DANVILLE, Ky. (FOX 56) – In 2022, a central Kentucky town made history by electing its first Black mayor.
James “J.H.” Atkins ran for the office of mayor in Danville for the first time this previous election cycle, after serving on the city council for 12 years.
Danville has been around since 1787, but until Atkins, the city of roughly 17,000 people never had a Black mayor, but Atkins said there is more to him than that.
“I’m a Christian,” said Atkins. “I’m an educator. I’m a public servant. I’m a role model. I’m a father.”
Atkins has called Danville home for more than 40 years, and on Nov. 8, 2022, when it was announced that he was elected to be the next mayor of Danville, he was honored for the opportunity to continue working for the community he loves so much.
Becoming Danville’s first black mayor is a title Atkins doesn’t take lightly, often referring to himself as “The People’s Mayor.”
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“I have always advocated that I stand on the shoulders of other people who came before me,” Atkins explained. “And so, I am broadening my shoulders so that other folks after I can stand on my shoulders, will they get to the point where they want to become public servants as well. My agenda is to listen. Seek first to understand people and then try to implement and push forward those programs that the citizens desire and feel that we need. But I also tell people that, look at my qualifications. Look at my character. OK, you look at my gender, look at my race. They’re important as well. But look at all the other things that go along with it. I am very highly qualified and experienced for this position.”
Despite the seriousness of being mayor, Atkins isn’t afraid to have a little fun.
“Well anytime you come to Danville, the mayor is always gonna say ‘stop and spend a little money,'” Atkins chuckled while saying.
But he said when his time in office ends, he hopes to leave a legacy that goes beyond the policies he put in place.
“I can’t go any place without representing the city of Danville,” Atkins described. “I’m a citizen. I’m a community-minded person, I’m black, I’m a male. And I try to set a good example. You know, people say ‘you are role model.’ Well, I don’t know what that means I just live a good life. So, by living a good life. I have this thing about. Yep. Some of us think you’re a role model, and that’s OK.”