Candidates speak their mind at political forum

Published 2:04 pm Friday, November 2, 2018

STANFORD — The Stanford Lions Club/Leo Club hosted a non-partisan political candidate forum Tuesday evening in the Stanford Baptist Church Christian Life Center, in which 28 candidates spoke.

Lion John David Friend said the organization’s mission with the forum is voter education and that the best way to educate voters is to put all the candidates in front of them and let them choose for themselves.

Local candidates were given two minutes to introduce themselves and then were asked follow-up questions.

The responses to the follow-up questions of the 23 local candidates on hand for the forum follow by office:

Stanford Mayor

Eddie Carter is the incumbent candidate and Scottie Ernst and Tim Lair are the challengers.

QUESTION: What is your main priority if elected mayor of Stanford?

CARTER: My priority is to continue with the great police department, fire department. Our fire department, I’m hoping, is going to a 2, an ISO rating of 2. We are in process of going for that. It will help everybody’s home insurance to be lowered. I’m going to continue to keep our police department updated. We just ordered four new vehicles. We had two others last year so that makes six. All of our departments, the water department, the street department are all going great They’ve all been updated. I want to say one thing about jobs. Broadband coming to this community – it’s the future, folks – it will help bring jobs to this community.

ERNST: As I’ve preached all along during this campaign, communication, common sense and respect. We’ve got a lot we need to do for this town. Sidewalks are a concern, the streets. On the sidewalk issue, I want to address the ordinance. It’s got to be something the city can work with but also be advantageous to the property owners. The plan that I would have for the sidewalks is that we would do sections of sidewalks if the ordinance that we agree on allows us to do so. Like a 3, 4 or 5 foot section, go through the city an look at the sidewalks and grade those and look at the repairs they need. I want to implement a four-year plan, not only for sidewalks but streets and everything to do with the city.

LAIR: My main priority would be to use my communication skills, my leadership skills, my management skills. What I mean by that is, I’ve been in so many different jobs I have a different way of looking at things because I’ve had such good results with my ears rather than my tongue. What that means is, if you’re talking to me I try to control your thinking, not your thoughts. So I ask you certain questions, “Have you considered this? Have you considered?” to try to broaden your view. But you usually come up with your own solutions. I’m not one who says, this is how we’re going to do it.

QUESTION: If you were elected mayor, where would the Logan’s Fort Project be placed on your priority list?

LAIR: My main concern is long-term maintenance of our fort. I am so proud to be part of the heritage of Lincoln County. I am supporting that fort. My grandsons have logs out there in that fort. But long-term, when we repair those existing buildings, and they are the city’s, I want to do it so it’s a long-term repair and it’s not mud-chinked in which washes out everytime it rains. So I am a long-time solution to keep that fort there and in good repairs.

QUESTION: What would you do to encourage existing businesses to remain in Stanford for years to come?

ERNST: We’ve got to publicize our town. We’ve got to advertise. We’ve got to get our town up to snuff, looking good. It looks great now but there are other little things that we can do. And high-speed internet. It’s the window to the world, as was mentioned earlier. That gets back to advertising our town through high-speed internet.

QUESTION: It’s been expressed that the city garage is in dire need of repairs. Over the next few years how do you think the city should fund these necessary repairs and maintenance for the garage.

CARTER: We have a buyer, I think, to maybe purchase the garage. We worked on a lease situation with the garage here last year. It didn’t work out. I would want to explore a situation where maybe a business would buy the garage and leave it as a parking garage. It would remain a parking garage for the city. It’s a hard building to get an appraisal on because there are not many buildings like it in Kentucky. I want to explore the possibility of selling the garage and not leasing it, but leaving it as a parking garage.

QUESTION: If elected, or re-elected, how would you and your newly-elected council members coherently work together for the betterment of Stanford?

LAIR: With the help of all the citizens and all the people that I’ve knocked on their doors and they’ve poured all those thoughts into my ear …. Acting as your mayor, I won’t forget your thoughts. But then, together, there’s a teamwork of working with the six people on the council. The new council, I pray, is concerned about the city as our old council was. I have many time praised them and our mayor. I think the new council, with a bright future, we can all work together with long-term goals and a grip on our budget.

ERNST: Communication. We’ve got to communicate with each other. If you’ve been to a city council meeting you know me, I’m a man of facts and figures. I like to show graphs. I like to give the reasons on paper so the citizens that are out in the audience, as well as council members, can understand what I’m trying to explain. I think when people see the facts and figures on paper it’s easier than explaining it orally. Communication and also communication with the citizens. I want citizens to come to me and share their concerns and give me ideas. You, the citizens, are the ones who are important.That’s who I work for, the citizens. That’s who the council works for, the citizens. We can’t forget the citizens. I would like to develop Team Stanford were the people could get together to bounce off ideas.

CARTER: We are going to have a new council, at least two people. I look forward to working with whoever if I’m elected mayor. Like Sara (Givens) mentioned, I’d like to have a Town Hall meeting ever so often. We’ve had a few of them in the past and I think that’s good to bring the citizens in to share their ideas of where they want our town to go and what’s their concerns, what’s their problems. An open town meeting. The city belongs to the taxpayers. We’re just public servants.

Stanford City Council (6 seats available)

Ronnie Deatherage, Sara Givens, Peggy Denham Hester and Dr. Naren James are current council members. Joe Tackett, Dalton Miller, Ella Mae Curlis and Billy Hastie are the challengers. They were each asked random questions.
Sara Givens

QUESTION: How would you support downtown development to encourage new businesses to come to Stanford?

GIVENS: I would promote having events to get people to come to downtown Stanford. I heard somebody say that we needed to bring some music downtown, some food downtown so we could eat and have a good time so that you could support the vendors down there and the stores and everything that has already taken place down there. Where we can all come together and share an experience of fun and laughter and food, because I love food. That’s what I would do. I would bring somebody in and then invite the whole entire community to come in and support these endeavors because we cannot do everything all by ourselves. We need the support of the community. And if the community shows up, we can expect other people from other areas to come out and support us not only financially but just to have fun.
Dr. Naren James

QUESTION: Do you think the current tax-based system in Stanford is necessary and fair in comparison to other surrounding counties.

JAMES: We are a little different from most of the cities. I spoke to the League of Cities. We are a little different between the privilege tax and the net profit tax. I do believe the net profit tax needs to go up a little bit eventually. I think at this time the disparity is too much. But frankly, I’m for creating a lower tax rate for businesses still in order to maintain a business-friendly environment. In the end, my way of supporting city services is to broaden the tax base rather than trying to increase the rate. So I would work with whoever the mayor is to attract businesses to the community so we can broaden the tax rate and not have to raise marginal rates on anybody. That would be my goal in terms of raising tax revenue while at the same time providing strong city services. The street department is one that needs our attention.

Billy Hastie

QUESTION: If elected to the city council, do you think you will be able to be a team player on the council and put personal differences aside for the betterment of Stanford?

HASTIE: Together we can! That’s my motto I go by and dadburnit if that wasn’t just perfect. I will be very neutral. I will be open-minded. I will listen to everything and everybody. I will weigh out every option. Downtown Stanford is such a vital place for all of us to become aware of and be a part of and get back into. My wife and I were driving downtown just last Saturday night. We’re driving in and saying, “Look at all the cars. Look at all the cars. Have you ever seen so many cars in town on a Saturday night in Stanford? Not in a long time.” I don’t think we need to go outside and find a bunch of stuff. Like that old show, “If you build it, they will come,” I think if we just make a great example of ourselve, we’ll make people want to come and be a part of this.

Joe Tackett

QUESTION: Are you in favor of the city of Stanford annexing additional areas surrounding the city? If not, why and, if so, which area would you target?

TACKETT: I, personally, am not in favor. The reason why, and a lot of folks that I have talked to have said this, is that we need to figure out first how to take care of what we have before we start trying to add things to take care of. We’ve got problems as it is. The way that we want to fix it is to go out and get more streets that we’ll have to take care of, more things that we have to worry about. Is that how we fix problems? That’s kind of the thought process behind that. I’m totally against that. I think we need to figure out how to take care of what we’ve got first, maintain what we have right now, figure out a budget to take care of things. Maybe then we can take on more. At this moment right now, I’m opposed to that.

Ronnie Deatherage

QUESTION: It has been expressed by many that the city garage is in dire need of repairs and maintainance over the next few years. How do you think the city should fund these necessary repairs and maintenance for the garage?

DEATHERAGE: We had an agreement with a local authority here. A win/win situation for the city and for the garage. We negotiated once, twice and the third time was not the charm. We had a stipulation where they would come in and they would take care of the garage. Basically, the city owned it and we could use it any time for any event and they would give us $1. But they were committed to spending thousands, tens of thousands of dollars, on the garage to make sure that it was maintained. We had spent a lot of money on that garage through a grant and it needs to be maintained. When that fell through, we were told that we had plenty of money to take care of it. That we would make sure that it was taken care of. I think we have made some repairs. But it has not been taken care of as it should be. Me, I would try to go back out and renegotiate this and see if we can’t get this back to were it was before.

Ella Mae Curlis

QUESTION: What is the one issue in which you have passion that makes you run for this position?

CURLIS: The one thing I am for, as I said a while ago, is I would like to see the storm waters taken care of in the city of Stanford. Water’s got to go somewhere. It’s either going to go across your property, the streets or it’s going to wash something away if the piping is not fixed. You have to maintain the storm waters from your waters to your creeks, your lakes, wherever it needs to go. This is my passion. I want the storm waters system in Stanford, I’d like to see it in Lincoln County, fixed. It has to be done sooner or later or we’re not going to have any topsoil, any yards. Water comes and water’s got to go.

Dalton Miller

QUESTION: What position do you take on the code enforcement issues that are currently facing the Stanford City Council?

MILLER: I’ve got a pretty easy and quick response for that so I’m going to have some extra time left (1-minute time limit). It’s this simple – we can’t enforce any ordinance on any citizen within the city unless the city’s properties are up to code. If the bushes aren’t trimmed, if the grass is not mowed, if the sidewalks are not clean or fixed, how can we enforce that on citizens if we do not enforce it upon ourselves.
Peggy Denham Hester

QUESTION: It has been expressed by many citizens that the Stanford sidewalks are in dire need of repair. What is your vision of how to address this issue?

HESTER: From my very first council meeting, one of my main objectives has been to get some sidewalks, much-needed sidewalks in our city. I live on Miller Street and right now we’re pouring a sidewalk that’s almost completed. That will go from Shea Villa all the way down to Valero. A lot of those residents there are handicapped or elderly. We’ve picked them up out of the road and taken them home before where they would go off the side and flip in their wheelchairs. So they will have safe passage now. That was a big issue for me. Now, I would like to see money put aside in each budget to make sure … residents in my area, Miller Street, Powell Street, Whitley Avenue and Logan Avenue. Powell Street has people who have lived there for 50-60 years and they’ve never had a sidewalk on that street.

Sheriff

Curt Folger is the incumbent candidate and John Williams is the challenger.

QUESTION: If re-elected, or elected, how would you address or continue to address the opioid crisis affecting Lincoln County?

FOLGER: Like my opponent has stated, we actually were the ones that got the BACKUPPS program started here in this county. We had the fiscal court sign that maybe two weeks ago. We’re actually using other agencies, not just ours, as you all know drugs do not just stay in one county. Drug dealers do not just bring them from one county to ours. So we’re going to be working hard with the BACKUPPS program and we are actually working on federal grants to get more help for the county.

WILLIAMS: Like Curt said, what we need to do and what has occurred is we have initiated this BACKUPPS program. What this does is it gives all the surrounding counties the intel and information through the law enforcement agencies around us and us as well. What we can do with this is utilize their personnel and their information to help fight crime not only in our county, but we can go into their county and do the same as well. When we’re investigating something we can cross county lines without delay and without authorization. Plus utilize the special deputies in a way and train them in a way to help and assist in detecting and investigating the drug crimes. These are free officers. We need to use them to the utmost capability.

QUESTION: If elected, or re-elected, to this office, summarize how you and your deputies will make Lincoln County as safe as possible for all the citizens of our county?

WILLIAMS: Once again training is key, training is key. Utilize the Department of Criminal Justice training system. Put each and every certified officer through an illicit drug training, investigating training, utilize what they offer on a yearly basis on certified officers and get them trained to detect these drug dealers, to detect and do a drug intervention. It’s like Curt said, he has three dogs now, which is big, big, big in the battle on drugs, however, we still have a drug problem. It’s a battle we have to keep fighting on a daily basis. It’s a war. The war on drugs was initiated in 1980 but this war is something that we battle on a daily basis.

FOLGER: With the special deputies and the deputies that I have, I have them stationed all throughout the county. We do have an instructor of the DOCJT that’s on my staff now and he was an instructor at Richmond, and we use him now to instruct our special deputies and some of our certified guys. We have to go through a 40-hour course, the certified guys do. I’ve spoke with the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association trying to get them to where we can have our special deputies go to Richmond to the DOCJT to get training.

Judge-Executive

Jim W. Adams Jr. is the incumbent and Jerry Shelton is the challenger. Adams did not attend the forum.

QUESTION: What do you feel is the most pertinent issue here in Lincoln County that needs to be addressed over the next four years and how would you and the elected magistrates address this issue for the betterment of Lincoln County?

SHELTON: Well, I’ve already touched on that issue, that’s increasing employment opportunities. That’s what we have to do over and over and over. If anybody’s got any different idea, you’re wrong. That’s just it. But no one can do that by themselves. You’ve got to have the magistrates working together. Everyone has to pull together as a team. I have a few plans that involve manufacture, agriculture and tourism industry. All those things are avenues we can pursue.

QUESTION: Summarize in one minute why you’re the best candidate for Lincoln County Judge-Executive

SHELTON: That’s an easy thing for me to answer. The reason I’m the best candidate for this office is my life experiences. I have served in a lot of different positions. Someone touched a little while ago about the need for city council and the fiscal court to work together. We just had an issue that had to deal with funding the 911 system. That could have worked a little smoother. If there had just been a little more cooperation with the city and fiscal courts. One thing that I hope to do if I’m elected is I would like to visit each district here in Lincoln County maybe quarterly to visit each citizen. If you have a question, you can come to me. We’ll visit and we’ll get something done.

Magistrate District 4

Joe Stanley is the incumbent and David Tyler McGuffey is the challenger

QUESTION: If you are re-elected or elected, what are the major issues that you think need to be addressed in District 4 over the next four years?

STANLEY: Well, we need to bring new industry to Lincoln County. I’m not sure what direction we need to go. Of course, that generates revenue from jobs to help pay our bills. The drug problem is a big thing here. Of course, we put a lot of money into it having drug programs and rehab programs, and it has been some successful, but there’s still plenty of room for more. What I’d like to see is a better working relationship between fiscal court and the city council. It’s seems like that’s not been real smooth the whole time.

MCGUFFEY: Well, I think there are a lot of issues, and Joe touched on them. The drug problem, making sure we fund our law enforcement, our relationships with our public services and landfills, obviously. But I think the real issue we have to decide now, which will determine how we fight these issues in the future, is can we invest in and bring high-speed internet countywide in Lincoln County. That’s major for our future businesses, our students in school. A lot of students’ school work has now been internet based. Can they get access to internet? The answer is no. There are a lot of areas in District 4 and all across the county that do not have access to internet. The world now runs on the internet whether we like it or not and we have to bring it to rural parts of Kentucky. If Jackson County can do it, we can do it in Lincoln County.

Magistrate District 2

Lonnie Pruitt is the incumbent and Terry Pettit is the challenger. Pettit did not attend the forum.

QUESTION: If re-elected, what major issues do you think need to be addressed in District 2 over the next four years?

PRUITT: I think the main issue in the district is looking into the numbers of the money. I think we’ve done a good job. You look at the budget of $10-million. I tell most people that gravel’s up, blacktop’s up, retirement’s up, health insurance is up. Is there a good chance that your taxes are going to go down? Not unless we make a lot of change. Part of that is getting more people to pull their fare share and that is called work. The more people that are working, the more money we have coming into the system.
Down the road, we’re going to have to look at doing something with the jail. Some people are of the mindset, ‘if you build it, we’ll fill it.’ We try to do the best with what we’ve got. The main thing I would tell anybody is it’s not about me, it’s about we. We’ve got to work together as a team to be able to do what’s best for the people of Lincoln County.

Magistrate District 1

David Faulkner is the incumbent and Dennis Miller is the challenger.

QUESTION: If re-elected, or elected, what are the major issues you think that need to be addressed in District 1 over the next four years?

FAULKNER: Well, there are no major issues in District 1, that are not the same issues in Districts 2, 3 and 4. Probably Jailer (Rob) Wilson would get up here and, he’ll be absolutely 100% right, in saying that we have a jail issue. There’s no question about it. We’re at about 230 or 240% occupancy. The problem is not the need for a jail. The problem is there’s a drug situation. We can’t fix that. It’s not a brick-and-mortar fix. That’s the issue that drives most all the problems with the sheriff’s budget and the jail budget. That’s the number one issue I think that drives everything we do on a day-to-day basis.

MILLER: I think the major issue is drugs in our county and some of our roads. I know Districts 1, 2, 3 and 4 have got the same issue that some roads haven’t been paved in a while and some folks are complaining about it. If I do get elected, sit down and work together, don’t argue, sit down and compromise and look at the areas we need to work out. We’ve got to come together and aspire to work it out.

County Clerk

George O. “Sonny” Spoonamore IV is the incumbent and William Gregory Snow is the challenger.

QUESTION: If re-elected, or elected, what major issues do you think need to be addressed in the next four years in the county clerk’s office?

SPOONAMORE: Everything we do is determined by the fiscal court or the state. I’ve been here through four terms, I’ve been through three judge-executives, numerous fiscal court members and everything we do goes through them. We don’t have big issues. I have talked to Rep. David Meade about getting a bill passed where, if you go to Lexington or Louisville to buy a car, that money comes back to Lincoln County. They don’t want to give it up. We want it. It’s our money. It should come back here. Whether we can get it passed or not, David has talked to other places. Places like Rockcastle and Garrard County they want it. They don’t have the big car dealerships. We need it.
We are very proud of what we do. What a lot of people don’t understand is in the last four years, this term, we have turned over $3.4-million in fees, not excess fees, but fees to the school board.

SNOW: First of all, I think the budget needs to have a conservative view from it. I think it needs to be looked at, gone over very diligently. Also, like Sonny was talking about. When people go out of town and buy their cars I think that we ought to go out … build a rapport with different types of clerks at dealerships in Boyle County and down in Pulaski County where we lose all that money. Set up a designated worker to try to travel down to pick up those transfers and bring them back.
Also address the possibility of, doing like I said before, bringing more transparency of our local government. At clerk’s office, you’re able to do that. Nobody makes those fiscal court meetings on Tuesday morning at 9 o’clock. So post on social meeting … and that way when there’s taxation among the people, they will have an idea what is going on in local government.

QUESTION: If elected, or re-elected, what positive impact will you make in Lincoln County.

SNOW: The positive impact is, first of all, going in with conservative thinking and idea on the budget. Over the years we’ve seen this office … the budgets gotten higher and the excess fees have gotten lower. I think if we take a conservative look at the budget we can try to turn that around and keep the money in the county. I’m one of those that whether it’s school taxes or county taxes … The taxation in this county has been going on and going on for several years now and I’m one of those that feels like, if it’s school taxes, that it ought to go to improve the schools. And if it’s county taxes, it ought to go to help improve the county whether it’s buying equipments, ambulances, fuel to mow the right-of-way on the side of roads instead of having to go through eight-foot Johnson grass hanging over the side of the road. Transparency and conservatism is what I would bring to the office.

SPOONAMORE: We have all the mortgages and deeds from 1978 on on computer. We can pull them up right now. We have a grant with Libraries & Archives we’re working on to go even back further than that to around 1903. That would make it a lot easier for you all when you come in for us to help get you in and out. We work with fiscal court. If we run out of money tomorrow for supplies, I have to go to fiscal court and get a budget amendment. They watch everything we do. If they don’t, the state is.

Circuit Clerk

Teresa Reed is the incumbent and Dwight Hopkins is the challenger.

QUESTION: If elected, or re-elected, what major issues do you think need to be addressed in the next four years in the Circuit Clerk’s office?

REED: The next major issue that is going to be happening in my office is driver’s licenses. Starting in January, you will have the opportunity to get the new standard license. Our Kentucky licenses are going to be honored until 2020 for flying. If you have questions after January, we’re still getting all the paperwork in about the prices and what it’s going to entail. We’re telling everyone if you’re going out of the country after January, to check with your travel agent to make sure you’ve got the correct paperwork and correct license.

HOPKINS: I’m not running because there’s anything wrong with the current. office. The platform I’m running on is that the Circuit Clerk has been there 28 years, most of that as the clerk. Because this is a six-year office, that is the equivalent of seven four-year terms. I think the office is in, basically, need of new blood, a new vision.

QUESTION: If elected, or re-elected, what positive impact do you think you will make on Lincoln County?

HOPKINS: I think that in the history of our county, we probably have a lot of people in the Republican party who would have made fantastic public servants … Really, just what I would bring to the office is the opportunity for more than one party to serve in that office.

REED: I don’t know what an impact I make. I try. I serve this community. I support things all year. I’ve been clerk for 18 years and was deputy clerk for nine. That’s almost 27 years. I have the dedication and experience. I think I have a very good office, a good staff, good deputies. We do all the updates. Like he said, the state tells us what we can and can’t do. I don’t set prices for anybody or speeding tickets or anything. I’m here. I’m part of this community. I’ve served this community for the 18 years I’ve been clerk.

Five candidates for district judgeships also attended the forum. They were:

Circuit Judge Family Court (28th Judicial Circuit, 4th District) – Melinda Gillum and Jane Adams Venters.

District Judge (13th Judicial District, 2nd Division) – Janet C. Booth

Justice of the Supreme Court (3rd Supreme Court District) – Debra Hembree Lambert and Dan Ballou.

The event also served as a fundraiser for the newly-formed Leo’s Club, with proceeds from a catered barbecue meal and the forum benefiting the student group.

Elections will take place Tuesday, Nov. 6.