Local candidates answer election questionnaire

Published 9:47 am Thursday, November 3, 2016

In less than a week, Lincoln County residents will take to the polls and cast ballots in the Nov. 8 election. 
In anticipation of next Tuesday, The Interior Journal asked all local candidates to answer four pre-determined questions: 
Why are you running in this election? 
What makes you different from other candidates? 
If elected, what issues are most important to you that you would like to see resolved during your term?
Why should people vote for you?

The following is a summary of the candidates’ answers that the newspaper received. 

There are seven candidates vying for the Stanford City Council’s six seats: incumbents Ronnie Deatherage, Peggy Hester, Naren James, Sara Givens, Scottie Ernst and John Sallee; challengers include write-in candidate Twyla Thomas.

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Peggy Hester 
Hester said she isn’t interested in being a fancy politician. “I am deeply interested in doing everything I can to help build a strong and forward-moving Stanford,” she said. “I am running for another term because we all need to do whatever we can to try to make things better.”
Hester said she feels the current council has worked to solve problems in a very cohesive and amicable manner. “Even in disagreement, we have done so without being offensive to the opposing opinion,” she said. One thing that sets Hester apart from the rest is her perfect attendance record, she said. 
Improving the condition of city streets, as well as improving oversight of the city’s various government bodies are two issues Hester said she would like to see the council focus on in the upcoming term.  “I feel that our boards and entities are the framework of our city government. If they do not function efficiently, our city government cannot function efficiently,” she said. “For that reason, I would like a resolution requiring each board chairman to attend meetings of city council with a report on the issues each board has dealt with in previous month.” Hester is also eager to review and update all city ordinances. 
Her ability to listen, negotiate and get along with others are some of the reasons Hester said people should vote for her. “I listen to the citizens of our community – their needs and their wants are of the utmost importance to me as their representative,” she said. “If elected, I will see that issues are addressed and dealt with in a timely manner.”

Scottie Ernst
Ernst said he has been on the council for a few terms and hopes to continue making a difference in the town which he resides. “I want to go through this thing called life making some kind of contribution to it and not just sitting back and doing nothing to contribute,” he said. “I enjoy being on the city council and making a difference (I hope).” 
Ernst said he is no different from the other candidates. “The last two years have been positive and productive. We have worked together and tried to make decisions to the best of our ability. We have not always agreed on some issues but that is good. The majority rules the vote, that’s the way democracy should be,” Ernst said. 
Updating necessary, out-of-date ordinances and keeping city business running in the same positive direction it has been in the past are two of Ernst’s goals if re-elected. 
Ernst said if citizens are satisfied with what he has done so far as a councilman then he welcomes their vote. “I try to do my best and make decisions for the betterment of all,” he said. 

Ronnie Deatherage 
“I am running for re-election to ensure that the process that I have participated in making Stanford a better place continues. From day one, I have made a commitment to put Stanford first,” said Deatherage. 
Along with his fellow council members, Deatherage said he has achieved several objectives for the city including lowering the ISO rating to save money on home insurance premiums, updating the jaws of life machinery, upgrading the water lines on Danville Avenue and saving taxpayer money by using inmate labor for street maintenance, among other things. Deatherage said his monthly radio presence on WPBK-FM has helped bring transparency to city government. 
Deatherage said he makes sure that he can see both sides of an issue and asks important questions in order to gather facts needed before voting on an issue. For 34 years, Deatherage said he has served the children of Stanford and Lincoln County working in the public school system from teacher to chief deputy of support services. 
If elected, Deatherage said he wants to review and update all city ordinances and continue to work on eliminating the city’s blighted, abandoned and dilapidated properties. “With stronger ordinances and an enforcement board, this can happen. It is a process, but one that I feel very strong about and will continue to promote.” Maintaining and providing up-to-date public safety by training and equipping both the police and fire departments is also a focus, he said. 
“I have a great desire to see that Stanford is all that it can be, both in job opportunities and in public safety,” he said. Deatherage said he is available and willing to listen. 

Sara Givens
“I am running in this election because I want to continue to listen to the voices of concerned citizens, address the problems and help to solve them and to make necessary changes for the welfare of the City of Stanford,” said Givens. 
Givens said she feels that all candidates share the same goals as to what is best for the city. The city’s unemployment rate and drugs are two issues that Givens said concern her the most. “I would like to see these issues resolved,” she said. 
Givens said as a Christian woman, she brings to the table a sense of honesty, integrity, past experience and a sense of pride in helping make decisions in regards to the business of the city and all things related. Givens said she also promises to “listen and pray.” 

Naren James
James said he is running for the Stanford council seat to continue to serve the people of Stanford and make it a city that everyone is proud to live in. 
As a business owner with employees, James said he brings a unique perspective to managing the city’s budget and day-to-day operations, “especially personnel management,” he said. 
If elected, James said he would like to see the city enforce ordinances in a consistent manner, without partiality. “As a physician, I have a deep interest in the health of our residents and would like to continue to promote the “Get Healthy Stanford/Lincoln County” initiative,” James said.
“I have been diligent in serving the city and council for the past two years and I believe I can continue to make a contribution to make Stanford an even better place to live that we are all proud of,” he said.  

There are seven candidates vying for the six Hustonville City Council seats: incumbents are Jimmy Evans, Jimmy Lane, Richard Cooper; challengers are Alan Sims, Cecil Maddox, Dudley Hardin and Marc Spivey. Incumbent Bradley Smith has withdrawn from the race. 

Jimmy Evans
Evans said he is running for re-election because he cares about the citizens of Hustonville and all of the city’s water customers. “I support the new EMS and Fire station now being built,” Evans said. “I am a conservative and I will not support excess spending.” 
Evans has served 40 years in the Kentucky National Guard and 22 years as a full-time property book officer. 
“I will not support using Hustonville water money to pay for the sewer project,” Evans wrote. “I want the water funds to have enough money to cover any problems that may occur. I will not support any water rate increase.” 
Evans said he is honest and will use his experience as a property book officer and Kentucky National Guardsman to oversee all funds and spending. 

Crab Orchard
There are six vying for Crab Orchard City Commission’s four seats: incumbents are Juanita Petit and Jerry Shelton; challengers are Devon Shelton, John Ryan, Keith Caudill and Chris Sandlin. 

Chris Sandlin 
The current city commission has grown stagnant and accomplished little, Chris Sandlin said, which is why he is running for a seat in Crab Orchard. 
“I want to become a voice for the younger generation,” Sandlin said, something that sets him apart from most candidates. 
Sandlin said he would like to make Crab Orchard a more desirable town to move to and have law enforcement to address the drug problem. He would also like to address the abandoned properties within city limits and make sure the good people Crab Orchard has, stay in Crab Orchard. 
“I will be a voice for the younger generation,” he said. Sandlin has lived in Crab Orchard all of his life and said he plans to stay to raise his son in the same way. 
“I want to make Crab Orchard a better place to live for my son and for all the children in town,” he said. 

Keith Caudill 
Caudill said he feels the city commission needs new ideas and a new vision in order for the city to continue to grow. 
His ability to work with others and make the best decisions for the city is what Caudill said sets him apart from other candidates. 
“I would like to review different options to generate more revenue for the city,” Caudill said. “If more revenue were to be generated, we could expand the police department, repair the sewer system and make repairs to streets and roads. Small repairs are needed.” 
Caudill said he is honest and hard-working. “I will do my best to listen to people’s concerns and try to work with the other commissioners to resolve the issues,” he said. 

Jerry Shelton 
I have lived in Crab Orchard for the past 35 years and have seen several changes, most of them positive. Opportunities exist to make us stronger, bigger and better. I hope we can all work together to accomplish these goals. 
Shelton said he is no different from any other candidates in that they all want to move Crab Orchard forward. “I have had success in my past terms and my life experiences helped make that possible,” Shelton said. “I expect that success to continue.” 
The issues that the citizens of Crab Orchard say are important to them are the ones that Shelton said are important to him. 
“If folks like the service I have given in the past and would like to see progress continue, I would enjoy the opportunity to work for them again,” he said. 

School Board
There are two vying for the District 4 school board seat: incumbent Denny Hogue and challenger Alan Hubble. 

Denny Hogue
On Dec. 31 of this year, Hogue will have completed 12 years of service to the children, parents, grandparents and caregivers of Lincoln County. Hogue said he would like to continue to be a voice for the students of Lincoln County. “I have learned many hard lessons during this time,” Hogue said. “We have several construction jobs to finish in the next four years and I feel with my 30-plus years of experience in the construction industry, I can be a valuable asset in seeing these projects are completed on time and fulfill the building needs for the next 40 to 50 years.” 
What sets Hogue apart from other candidates is his experience, he said. “I have been on the board for 12 years,” he said. “During this time, I have worked with four different superintendents and two interims. Believe me, I have experience.” 
Continuing the academic trail that leads to higher test scores and real-life learning is important to Hogue, he said. “I also want to see improvement of the climate and culture of every school in this district for the good of students and teachers alike,” he said. Experience, education and determination to be a leader are some of the qualities that Hogue said makes him a candidate worth voting for on Nov. 8

There are two vying for the District 5 school board seat: incumbent Chairman Tom Blankenship and challenger Jeremy Gilliam. 

Tom Blankenship
Blankenship said he is seeking re-election because he wants to see the district continue moving in the positive direction it has been. “All of our schools are progressing. For the first time, the district has been classified as a distinguished district and Lincoln County High School has been recognized as a school of distinction, the highest level possible and one that few schools ever obtain. I wish to continue serving to see that our students are provided those opportunities to grow and succeed,” he said.
Experience is what Blankenship said sets him apart from other candidates. “The modern-day field of education has become so specialized and demanding, a field in which I have spent most of my adult life,” he said. Blankenship said his experience provides insight into important policy issues such as teacher support, training,instructional programs, and curriculum. 
Blankenship said he would like to raise the achievement gaps of disadvantaged and low-performing schools. “Solutions include improved curriculum, smaller class sizes, after-school programs and an improved summer school program.” Blankenship said the board needs to continue to be dedicated to increasing efforts and programs for underachieving students and schools.
Blankenship said he has been accessible and responsive to parents and stakeholders. “I take my position on the board seriously and would continue to do so,” he said. “I attend many training sessions to learn about topics that affect the schools, my job as a board member, and education.”
Blankenship said he is committed to being fiscally responsible with the taxpayers’ money.

Jeremy Gilliam
Gilliam said he is running in the Nov. 8 election to “place the needs of our children first while equipping our staff to build a brighter Lincoln County.”  Unlike many sitting school board members, Gilliam said he has two school-age children, one whom is special needs. 
If elected, Gilliam said he would like to see the needs of children placed first in every decision.  “I will work with our staff, parents and community to build a brighter future for our children,” Gilliam said 

Theresa Long 
Long is running for re-election because she wants to see the projects that were started under her term finished and continue to be a voice in the district. “I want to be an advocate for student growth and be positive in the promoting of education for all students who will one day be the future leaders of Lincoln County,” she said.
Long faces no opposition in this Nov. 8 election. 
In the past year, Long said the school board has faced many issues and she is proud to say that they have all been resolved. “Lincoln County High School is now a school of distinction, the bus accident has been resolved, as well as the build-back of the technology department due to the fire,” Long said. “In the next year, we will have an early childhood program building completed and we will begin to put the fire behind us.”
Long said she is proud to say Lincoln County is a school District of Distinction. “Our schools are moving forward, test scores are on the rise and we as a district need to stay positive and focus on the positive results of what is to come,” she said.  
Long said she is able to manage change and solve problems, as well as listen. 
“I am willing to listen to all stakeholders and agree that we may disagree but will keep focus on what’s best for our students,” she said