By Greg Bird
The highly controversial 2018 Primary Election is in the books and there were many surprises as the McCreary County Fiscal Court will get an almost totally new makeover as it enters next year.
County voters elected four new members to the Fiscal Court, displacing two incumbents and filling two vacancies – including County Judge Executive, giving the leadership of the county a new look and possibly a new direction.
4,187 votes were cast locally Tuesday – 37.38 percent of all registered voters in the county. Statewide voter turnout was only 23 percent.
In the race for County Judge Executive Jimmie “Bevo” Greene followed in his late father’s footsteps by becoming the next leader of the Fiscal Court. Greene took the seat with more than 41 percent of the total vote, holding off a strong challenge by second-place finisher Vicki Kidd with 29 percent and third-place finisher Mark Sewell with 20 percent of the vote.
“Thank the Lord it’s over,” Greene said shortly after the final votes were tallied. “It was a good clean race, with good opponents. It’s a big job and I’m looking forward to the future.”
Greene first ran for the position in 2014, falling just 27 votes behind Doug Stephens in the Primary.
Greene will go on to face Independent Scottie Morrow in the fall, barring any additional write-in candidates.
Roger Phillips, Magistrate for District 2 was the only existing member of the Fiscal Court to retain his seat, beating his closest challenger Bill Taylor by 124 votes. Phillips garnered 480 votes, or 51.95 percent of the total to enter his fifth term as Magistrate.
No Democrat had registered for the race, and Independent candidate Butler Waters withdrew earlier this spring, meaning Phillips will have no opposition in the fall unless a write-in candidate enters the fray.
The seat for Magistrate District 1 was vacant entering this election and was contested for by four candidates. Bill Hale took the win with 335 votes, 40.46 percent of the total. Teresa Bryant placed second with more than 27 percent of the vote, followed by Stan Cox (21.98 percent), and Brent Marlow (10 percent).
Hale is preparing for a November showdown with Democrat Lilian Frasure Taylor.
Magistrate for District 3, Jason Mann, lost his bid for re-election by just 28 votes to challenger Bobby Strunk. Strunk won the nomination with 236 votes, out pacing Mann (214) and the next-closest competitor Clayton Worley (208). Ronald King (121) and Grant Hasty (65) finished fourth and fifth respectively.
“I was very nervous,” Strunk said after the election. “I would like to thank my opponents for a very clean race.”
Strunk will face off in November against Democrat winner David Price, who took the nomination with 68 percent of the vote over Rodney Heath, and Independent Johnny Corder.
District 4 also saw an incumbent fail to advance with Duston Baird finishing fourth in his bid for re-election. Randy Maxwell took 36.8 percent of all votes to claim the nomination, outpacing Lonnie Creekmore (22.1 percent), Vernon Gilreath (19.2 percent), Baird (10.2 percent), Jimmy Smith (5.8 percent) and Randy Dolen (5.7 percent) for the nomination.
Maxwell, who said he was “tickled to death” with his win, will square off against Hope Daugherty in November. However Daugherty announced on social media she was withdrawing from the race, but has yet to officially take her name off the ballot.
Dwight Ross unseated PVA Bruce Lominac, who was seeking his third term of office. Ross will appear on the ballot in November against Joni Carson, the lone Democrat in the race.
Ross held a slim lead early throughout the early returns, only to see his lead grow as more precincts came in, eventually hold a more than 500-vote advantage and claiming 57.8 percent of the vote. Ross took home 57.8 percent of the vote to win the nomination.
After the final votes were announced Ross expressed relief that the Primary was over. “Right now I just want to sit back and let it all sink in,” he said.
One of the most-bitter battles for a county seat ended with challenger Austin Price ousting Conley Chaney in the race for County Attorney.
Price bested Chaney by just 53 votes in the final tally, 1,774 to 1,721.
Barring a write-in candidate, Price will be unopposed in the General Election this November.
It is a possibility that Chaney will file for a recanvass of the votes. If so, the recanvass will be held next week.
Another acrimonious battle was fought among the Republican candidates for Sheriff, with Milford Creekmore edging out Donald Daugherty and Joe Horne for the nomination. Candidate Freddie Clark, whose strong allegations of corruption within law enforcement seemed to make a difference in the race with a strong fourth-place finish. Clark, in early returns, was in second-place for a short while before fading.
Creekmore took home 976 votes for 29 percent of the total. Daugherty claimed 25.76 percent, Horne 22.73 percent, Clark 19.07 percent and Mark Keith just 3.45 percent.
Incumbent Sheriff Randy Waters easily won his Primary over Roy Lynch with more than 81 percent of the vote, and will face Creekmore in the fall.
Incumbent Jailer Jessie Hatfield cleared the first hurdle in his bid for election to his second term of office, defeating challenger Alex Jones in the Primary. Hatfield will appear on the ballot in November against Democrat Derek Jones and Independent Tony Hansford.
Coroner Tim Corder retains his position for the next four years after prevailing against a challenge from former Coroner and Magistrate Ted Coffey.
McCreary County will also see three new Constables patrolling the roads in the new year.
In District 1 Darrell Hansford claimed 289 votes, more than 100 more than Incumbent Bill Hayes. Hansford will face off against Democrat Chuck Duncan in November.
District 2 saw the closest race of the night with Brad Waters edging Tommy Lewis by a scant one vote. Waters claimed 240 votes to Lewis’ 239. Waters will be on the ballot in the fall against Democrat Steven Cox.
McCreary County Sheriff’s Deputy Cody Stephens won the seat for District 3, beating second-place finisher Kenny Kidd by 25 votes.
District 4 Constable David Kilby easily retained his position with more than 57 percent of the total, more than 300 votes ahead of second-place finisher Charles Perry.
The Commonwealth Attorney race in McCreary County went to Graham Trimble, who finished ahead of competitor Ronnie Bowling by more than 300 votes. Bowling, however, easily outpaced Trimble in Whitley County to win the seat by more than 1,900 votes in the 2-county race.
Harold “Hal” Rogers easily defeated his Republican opponent, Gerard Serrano to retain his party’s nomination for the United States House of Representatives 5th Congressional District. Rogers will square off against Democratic Primary Winner Kenneth Stepp, in November.
In the non-partisan Kentucky Supreme Court 3rd District Candidate Dan Ballou easily took McCreary County with nearly 75 percent of the vote, but in the 27-county race Debra Lambert holds a clear majority with nearly 50-percent of the total vote. Lambert and the second-place finisher will meet again in November with a run-off election. As of Wednesday morning, with 25 of 27 county’s votes certified, Ballou holds a slim lead of just 51 votes over David Tapp for the second position on the ballot.
The General Election for 2018 will be held on Tuesday, November 6.
In 2014, the last county-wide Primary election voter turnout was just over 38 percent, well ahead of the state average of 27 percent. In 2010 more than 50 percent of McCreary County voters headed to the polls.