By Greg Bird
The 2018 McCreary County General Election is next Tuesday, with voters finally having the opportunity to decide who will lead over the next four years.
In a total of 20 local races, at least seven will result in a new official being elected, while five incumbents face challengers to their positions. Seven write-in candidates will not appear on the ballot, but have registered with County Clerk Eric Haynes for an opportunity to pull off an upset in six races.
In addition to local races, six state and national level races will be on the ballot, including United States Representative, Supreme Court Judge and State Senator and Representative.
County Clerk Eric Haynes said voter turnout could be higher than in the spring, where just under 38 percent of local registered voters turned out at the polls. Absentee voting has been ongoing for the past week and has had a good turnout so far he said.
In the last county-wide General Election (2014) 46.82 percent of registered voters in McCreary County went to the polls. In 2016, for the Presidential Election, over half (52.26 percent) voted.
For the General Election only 11,192 voters are registered locally, a decline of 210.
McCreary voters will have several choices on the ballot in races including Judge Executive, Sheriff, Jailer and Magistrate.
Two candidates are vying to take over the Judge Executive office: Republican Jimmie “Bevo” Greene and Independent Scottie Morrow. The winner will take over the office from Doug Stephens, who will step away from the seat after eight years in the position.
Sheriff Randy Waters (D) has three opponents, with only one appearing on the ballot – Republican Milford Creekmore II. Two write-in candidates have registered for the position; former Sheriff Gus Skinner and James Tapley.
Three candidates are in the running for the position of Jailer. Incumbent Jessie Hatfield will face off against Derek Jones (D) and Tony Hansford (I).
The northern end of the County will have a new Magistrate representing District 1, Republican William “Bill” Hale Jr. will run against Democrat Lillian Frasure Taylor.
District 2 Magistrate Roger Phillips held off a field of opponents in the Primary to retain the Republican nomination, and is being opposed by a write-in candidate, Barbara Duncan.
The District 3 Magistrate race is a four-man field, with three candidates on the ballot and one write in. Bobby Strunk won the Republican Primary, David Price is the Democrat nominee and Independent Johnny Corder is the third candidate on the ballot. Write-in Bobby W. Strunk is also in consideration for the seat.
District 4 Magistrate is the only race without a challenge as Randy Maxwell won the Republican Primary in the Spring. Democrat Hope Daugherty announced she was pulling out of the race earlier this year. She will still appear on the ballot as she had never filed official paperwork to withdraw.
Republican Dwight Ross, who defeated incumbent Bruce Lominac in the Spring will be opposed by Joni Carson for Property Valuation Administrator.
Two McCreary County Board of Education seats are on the line as Brandon Kidd faces a challenge from Braxton King in Division 2, while Lori Foster and Melissa Maxwell are vying for the vacant Division 4 seat.
Three constable positions are on the ballot as well. In District 1 Darrell Hansford and Chuck Duncan will be on the ballot. Donnie Smith is also running for the position as a write-in.
District 2 sees Brad Waters facing off against Steven Cox, with Freddie Clark running for re-election as a write-in after a failed bid for Sheriff this spring. In District 3 and 4 Cody Stephens and David Kilby are running unopposed.
Eight candidates have no opposition in local races: Ronnie Bowling Jr. for Commonwealth’s Attorney, Circuit Clerk Othel King, County Attorney Austin Price, County Clerk Eric Haynes, Coroner Tim Corder and County Surveyor Jimmy Watters. District Judges Cathy Prewitt and Fred White are unopposed for re-election to the bench.
Other races next week include U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (R) challenged by Kenneth Stepp (D) for the United States Representative 5th District.
George “Max” Wise for 16th District Senator, is challenged by write-in Nichole Britton, and Republican Kenneth Upchurch is challenged by Democrat Dean Sumpter for the 52nd District State Representative seat.
Judge Dan Ballou is facing off against Judge Debra Lambert for the vacant Kentucky Justice of the Supreme Court seat,
Also appearing on the ballot is a proposed constitutional amendment.
Named “Marsey’s Law” the amendment would grant victims of criminal acts similar rights as to those accused of crimes.
Voting on the amendment may not enact in it to law, however.
Earlier this month Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate ordered election officials to not certify the votes on the measure, due to a legal challenge.
The Judge ruled the wording on the proposed amendment is not sufficiently clear for voters to properly cast their vote on the issue.
The ruling came too late to remove the question from the ballot, and an appeal on the ruling has already been filed.
The wording on the ballot reads: “Are you in favor of providing constitutional rights to victims of crime, including the right to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect, and the right to be informed and to have a voice in the judicial process?”
The law was named after a California crime victim in the 1980’s. Kentucky is one of six states set to vote on the proposal this year.