What do the candidates for sheriff think the sheriff’s department can do, if anything, to better combat the drug problem in Whitley County?
What, if anything, do the jailer candidates think the jail can do to help prevent inmates from re-offending once they are released from custody?
What steps do the state representative candidates think the Kentucky General Assembly should take to shore up the retirement system financially?
In an effort to better inform voters, the News Journal recently posed these questions and more to candidates running for elected office in Whitley County during next Tuesday’s Primary Election.
Starting Wednesday, voters will be able to view the News Journal’s Voter’s Guide to the Primary Election free of charge on our website, www.thenewsjournal.net.
News Journal Publisher Trent Knuckles said the News Journal decided to go high-tech for its election preview section this year for a variety of reasons.
“The News Journal is providing voters with the most complete, detailed Primary Election voter’s guide you will find anywhere. It is laser-focused on candidates of importance to voters in Whitley County. We ask real questions, and candidates give in depth responses to those questions. I think it’s informative and invaluable for anyone going to the polls who wants to make an informed decision,” Knuckles noted.
“This time around, we’ve decided to publish this special section in digital format so that anyone with an Internet connection can see it for free. We think this is a vital service not just to our readers, but also to everyone in our readership area that votes. We didn’t want to leave anyone out. The candidates’ answers are being provided, unaltered, so voters can decide for themselves what they think.”
Expected voter turnout
Whitley County Clerk Kay Schwartz is expecting between 30 – 35 percent of registered county voters to go to the polls Tuesday to vote in the May Primary Election.
By comparison in 2014 when the same races were on the ballot, about 35 percent of registered voters went to the polls, Schwartz noted.
“Hopefully we will get 40 percent but being realistic, I think we will probably have pretty close to the same turnout,” Schwartz noted.
Schwartz said that there seems to be a lot of interest in next week’s election, which features contested countywide Republican Primary election races for sheriff, state representative, commonwealth’s attorney, jailer and coroner among other races on the ballot.
Schwartz said that as of late Monday afternoon, there had been 391 people, who had cast their absentee ballots either in person or sent them in by mail, which is more absentee votes cast so far this year than there were total absentee votes cast in either 2014 or 2010.
In order to cast an absentee ballot, someone either has to plan to be out-of-state on Election Day, or be unable to go to the polls that day, such as have a planned surgical procedure. In person absentee voting will continue in Schwartz’s office until 6 p.m. next Monday.
She noted that absentee voting is usually a “big indicator” of voter interest and voter turnout in most elections.
In the race for sheriff, two-term incumbent Colan Harrell is facing opposition from Deputy Todd Shelley and Williamsburg Police Officer Mike Taylor.
Incumbent 82nd Rep. Regina Huff is facing opposition from challenger Matt Anderson for the Republican nomination. The winner will face Democrat Stefanie J.E. Kingsley, a Corbin attorney, in the November General Election.
Incumbent 34th Judicial District Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Trimble is not seeking re-election after more than 30 years in office. His son, Graham Trimble, is seeking election to the position in addition to Williamsburg attorney Ronnie Bowling.
In the jailer’s race, incumbent Brian Lawson is facing opposition from Stephen Taylor, Curtis Surgener and Brian Kirby.
Long-time incumbent Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley is facing opposition from Denver Bargo.
In the First District Magistrate, incumbent Scotty Harrison is facing opposition from Gary Brock. In the Second District Magistrate, incumbent Lon “Chuck” Head is facing challengers Mondo Cima and James Blankenship.
In the Third Magistrate District, incumbent Michael Jarboe will square off against challengers Ted M. Barrineua and Matt Rose.
In the Fourth Magistrate District, two-time incumbent Robert “Robbie” Brown will face off against challengers Raleigh Meadors and Rod Carter Jr.
There are two constable races on the ballot Tuesday.
Incumbent Third-District Constable Dorman Patrick Jr. faces former constable Jim Thornton, who unsuccessfully ran for sheriff four years ago.
Incumbent Fourth-District Magistrate Andy Moses faces challenger Wayne Carr.
There are two other regional races on the ballot.
In the non-partisan Third-District Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court race, Whitley Circuit Judge Dan Ballou is seeking a position on the high court along with Pulaski Circuit Judge David Tapp and Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Debra Hembree Lambert. The top two vote getters in the 27-county district will square off in the November General Election.
There is only one Democratic race on the Whitley County election ballot Tuesday. Kenneth S. Step and Scott Sykes are running against each other for the Democratic nomination in the Fifth Congressional District. The winner will take on U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers in the November General Election.
One voting precinct change
Only one voting precinct has changed locations since the last election.
The Liberty voting precinct, which is located in the third magistrate/constable district, is moving from the building at the floodgate to Cumberland Freewill Baptist Church’s Fellowship Center, which is located at 2352 Redbird Road.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. next Tuesday.