Candidates attend forum as Primary nears
by Franklin Clark, Reporter -- fclark@cadizrecord.com
May 12, 2010 | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cadiz Record and WKDZ-FM co-sponsored the 2010 Trigg County Primary Election Candidate Forum, held Monday night at Trigg County High School’s Little Theater. The forum was moderated by Alan Watts, WKDZ news director, and Justin McGill, executive editor of The Cadiz Record.

The following are portions of questions and answers presented during the forum, which featured candidates for Magistrates in Districts 1, 4, 5 and 7, County Attorney and Sheriff.

District 1

As Steven Darnall is the only Republican running in the primary, only Shannon Knight and Mike Wright, both on the Democratic ticket, were in the debate.

Question 1: The candidates were first asked if they would support a county park system, and they both said they would. Wright said having recreational facilities is the social fabric of a community. Knight said teaching the kids sportsmanship is very important as well.

“We want to have as many opportunities as we can for our young people,” Wright said. “You want them to have things to do, and a positive environment.”

“The more you offer our youth, the less opportunities there are for (Cadiz Police Chief Hollis Alexander) and (Trigg County Sheriff Randy Clark) … to tell us that our son is in trouble,” Knight said.

Question 2: The candidates were then asked what should be done to attract new industrial development in the area. Knight first said there is an antiquated 18-inch pipe running down to the industrial complex that needs to be replaced with a 36-inch pipe.

Knight also said that the Cadiz-Trigg County Economic Development Commission, Tourism Commission and Chamber of Commerce should join forces and should “get our boots on the ground in some foreign countries.”

Wright said this area has many things going for it, such as Interstate 24 and the fact that it’s between Nashville, Tenn., and St. Louis, Mo., and most importantly the quality of life, which he said the EDC and others need to market.

Question 3: The candidates were asked what the primary responsibility is for a magistrate, apart from road maintenance and were also asked about their qualifications.

Both Knight and Wright said the primary responsibility of a magistrate is to listen to constituents.

Question 4: The candidates were then asked if they thought a nuisance or zoning law would help improve the area’s tourism potential.

Knight said a zoning law might help, although he added that to some people, “it’s a four-letter word.” He was more supportive of a nuisance law and mentioned the numerous dog and cat complaints he has received.

Knight also said there might have to be zoning laws around U.S. 68/80 to Lake Barkley once it’s widened to four lanes, “because that’s probably going to end being our boulevard.”

Wright said zoning is an important but controversial issue, and said the county has to look out for property owners’ rights, “but … one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” He added that the county will be better off if it can plan for future growth.

Question 5: The candidates were asked to weigh in on the county’s role in protecting community rights and individual rights.

Wright said that being an educator for 27 years and a coach for 29 years has helped him learn how to make decisions, and went on to say that a magistrate has to do what’s best for the district.

Knight said there is an issue of where one person’s rights end and another person’s begin, and called it a balance. He said that although a person can pretty much do what they want with their property within reason, they have responsibility to keep their yard and their neighborhood beautiful.

Question 6: The candidates were asked what can be done about the fact that gas prices are 10 – 20 cents higher than in places like Murray and Hopkinsville.

“I spoke about this … at a fiscal court meeting,” Knight said. “We are a tourism town, but yet locally, we only have about six, seven, or eight options to buy gasoline.”

Knight said he would like to ask the attorney general to find out why the gas prices are higher, and added that many locals will put $5 of gas into their car and will drive to Hopkinsville or other places to fill up their tanks.

Wright said he talked to a person that owns a store and sells gas who told him he makes little profit on that gas, and also said it could be a problem with the dealers as opposed to the gas stations.

“I think we do need to look into that,” Wright said.

Question 7: The candidates were then asked if a combined effort on the part of the EDC, Chamber and Tourism Board would be beneficial to the county.

Wright and Knight both said they approve of such efforts. Wright also said that the county joining forces with Christian and Todd counties could only make it easier to bring jobs into the area, and that the Cadiz City Council and Trigg County Fiscal Court should work together more.

“I can see myself as a magistrate feeling a responsibility to attend city council meetings,” Wright said.

Knight said joining forces is important for bringing more jobs and putting people back to work, which is especially important given the county’s unemployment rate.

Question 8: The last question fielded by the candidates dealt with what the county should do to attract new businesses.

Knight said the county should get Johnson Controls to talk about what they’re doing with the JCI building, as he can’t find out from anyone what JCI’s plans are for it. He also said that if they won’t use it, the county needs to find someone who will.

Wright said the EDC has to sell itself, and that they need to be at every industrial fair they can.

District 4

Denise Brashears and Mike Hyde are running on the Republican ticket, while Larry Dale Rogers, Danny Stewart, Garnett Hayes Jr., Jeff Broadbent and Marc Terrell are running on the Democratic ticket.

Question 1: The candidates were asked to name two things the county can do to promote industrial development.

Brashears and Stewart said that the widening of U.S. 68/80 to four lanes will be a good thing when that happens. Rogers and Brashears said, like others have said, that the county needs to promote itself in order to grow.

Broadbent and Hyde said the county needs to keep working with the EDC, the Chamber and the Tourism Board, and Hyde added that there is a lot of potential for “spin-off” work from the Hemlock project. Broadbent, however, said it would be hard to control what JCI does with the currenlty vacant building, though it would be good to see more jobs.

Terrell said it would be good if the county partnered with the local schools or even a trade or technical school, and added that he would like to see a spec building built. Hayes said a tax break on any incoming businesses would be a good idea.

Question 2: The candidates were then asked how to maintain to Trigg Recreation Complex better and improve it.

Stewart said getting more people out there would help, and Brashears agreed. She and Rogers said advertising and promoting it would be a great help. Hyde also agreed with those points, and said that we should get kids more involved in it.

Broadbent said he would make the recreation complex a personal priority. Terrell said the county should continue to support the volunteer-staffed Complex Board and the Trigg County Youth Athletic Association. Hayes talked about installation of water hook-ups.

Question 3: The candidates were asked if they thought the county’s alcohol ordinance is adequate, and what they would do to improve it if it isn’t.

Hyde, Brashears, Terrell and Rogers all agreed that it is, and said they trusted the Trigg County Fiscal Court’s efforts. Broadbent and Stewart said they haven’t read it, but also trust the fiscal court. Hayes said, “It remains to be seen.”

Question 4: The candidates were also asked if they thought a zoning or nuisance law would help the county’s tourism potential.

Rogers said that everyone has a different definition of what a nuisance is. Stewart, Hyde and Brashears all said they would love to see a zoning law, as there is a need for it in the county, but Hyde said, “with zoning, whether politically correct or not, you’re going to step on toes.”

Broadbent said he was uncomfortable with a law that tells people what they can do on their property, but that most people would want to live up to the “expectations of their community.” Hayes seemed to agree. Stewart said he would be in favor of a nuisance law.

Terrell said homeowners, business owners and people in agribusiness need to be brought together to figure out who needs what and to make sure no one’s rights are being stepped on in writing a zoning ordinance.

Question 5: The final question the candidates heard dealt with what infrastructure elements the county should work on improving.

Terrell and Broadbent said they would like to see other Internet options apart from dial-up available in Cerulean, and Broadbent pointed out that roads in that area have flooded many times after a hard rain. Broadbent also said he would like more police patrols.

Stewart, Brashears, Rogers, Terrell, Hayes and Hyde said they would like the county to look for more competition in the telecommunications realm. Hyde said roads are an issue, especially with the ice storm and the flooding.

Rogers and Brashears agreed with Hyde about the roads issue. Brashears also said she would like to see more funding for the Trigg County Sheriff’s Department. Stewart said he would like to see a detective on staff at the sheriff’s department, provided the funding can be found.

District 5

Terry Lee Vickery, Rick Nelson and Ronnie Sadler are running on the Republican ticket, while Tom Ledford, George Humphries, Greg Major and James Kyler are running on the Democratic ticket. Vickery and Humphries weren’t able to make it to the debate.

Question 1: The candidates were asked how they would like to beautify the county and clean up yards.

Major, Kyler and Ledford said they think Trigg County Solid Waste Coordinator Jessie Thomas has done a good job so far. Sadler and Kyler commended the recycling center, although Sadler said there should be scales at the recycling center.

Nelson talked about mobile homes that have been stripped down. Major said he thinks inmates should be worked more often to clean things up.

Question 2: The candidates were then asked if they would be supportive of a county park system.

Kyler and Major said they would support a park system, as it parks and recreation areas keep kids out of trouble by giving them things to do. Nelson said he would support for the same reasons, provided the budget supports it.

Sadler said it’s worth looking at, and added that he would like to see improvements to the recreation complex. “One of the most repeated phrases in Trigg County is, ‘there’s nothing for our kids to do,’” he said.

Ledford said he is committed to the recreation complex, and added that finding grants for a park would be a major improvement to the county.

Question 3: The candidates were asked what they would do to promote industrial development.

Kyler said the JCI building should be utilized, and also said a spec building should also be looked at. Major, Nelson and Sadler said looking for spin-off companies from Hemlock, a company moving to Clarksville, Tenn., would be the county’s best bet. Sadler also proposed asking state legislators for a tax incentive zone in Trigg, Todd and Christian counties.

Ledford said he wants the EDC, Chamber and Tourism Board to work together to bring jobs to the area. Nelson said the county should look to other counties to see what they are doing. Major said the county should be persistent in contacting potential industries.

Question 4: The candidates were asked what a magistrate’s primary role is, aside from local road maintenance, and were also asked about their qualifications.

Nelson said that the fiscal court manages a $5 million budget, which includes the sheriff’s department, and cited his work with the Family Foundation. Major said he will take the time to listen to his constituents. Ledford said dealing with the people in the county is important.

Sadler said maintaining the quality of life, gathering consensus about important issues and attracting potential employers are all very important aspects of the job. Kyler said that listening to constituents is very important, although road maintenance is the most important job.

Question 5: The last question the candidates were asked dealt with how the county should pay for any increased efforts to bring in more jobs.

Sadler said the county should try to find the resources and think outside the box. “If there was a silver bullet, I suppose we would have found it by now,” said Sadler. Ledford said the proposed new bridges across Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake will bring more opportunities, and both he and Nelson said it’s a matter of promoting what the county has, especially the workforce.

Nelson said he was opposed to any tax increases, and added that the fiscal court should foster a “business friendly” climate. Kyler said tax incentives are a good idea. Ledford suggested opening some of the roads in Land Between the Lakes.

District 7

Donnie Tyler, the incumbent running on the Democratic ticket, was the only one in this race at the debate. Mike Lane, also running on the Democratic ticket, wasn’t able to make it.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes in the past 17 years, and I still think there’s quite a bit of work to be done and I want to be a part of it,” said Tyler, who has served four terms and is running for a fifth.

Trigg County Attorney

H.B. Quinn, the current county attorney, and Randy Braboy are running on the Democratic ticket. No Republicans are running for this office.

Question 1: The candidates were asked if they feel people who break the law in the county are properly punished.

Quinn said he thinks they are, with the caveat that not everyone that comes to court is the same, as some are repeat offenders and some have never before committed a crime. He added that there have been times during jury trials where he was surprised at the verdict.

Braboy said that punishment is difficult to give out, but said the county is limited by what kind of punishment it can offer, as the county no longer has a jail and has to send its prisoners to Christian County.

Question 2: The candidates were asked about the most important tool that a county attorney has when it comes to properly guiding the efforts of the fiscal court.

Braboy said he will “do the homework” and will perform plenty of research, and will review all of the county’s statutes. Quinn cited his 25 years of experience as county attorney, but added that he keeps up with developments in the legislature and attends relevant conferences.

“Not every issue are you going to know about until it comes up … at fiscal court, so you don’t always have time to do the research,” Quinn said.

Question 3: The candidates were asked what they would do to better protect crime victims from harassment and intimidation from criminals.

Quinn said there are laws that cover that, and a county attorney should inform the victims that they are entitled to a certain level of protection from harassment, as those accused or convicted are often prohibited from contacting the victim or the victim’s family. Braboy agreed with Quinn in that there are avenues that victims can explore.

Question 4: The candidates were then asked what steps they would take to make sure those with child support payments actually pay.

Braboy said it’s very important that child support payments are made regularly, and that he’ll make every effort to enforce them, though he added that such payments have to be “reasonable” and are at a level that the non-custodial parent can afford.

All child support payments are set by a court, whether in a divorce case or by paternity action, Quinn said. He went on to say that a judge should enforce it in, and added that Trigg County is “blessed” with good judges.

Question 5: The candidates were asked if they support or oppose shock probation.

Quinn said he thinks it’s a good idea, as “cons finally get tired of serving time,” after which they should be released, although it’s used more in circuit court than district court and isn’t used that often.

Braboy is also for it, and said it has its place, especially with first-time and nonviolent offenders to help them straighten out their lives.

Question 6: The candidates were asked why they are running.

Braboy said he is running because Quinn hasn’t had any opposition 1985, and that although Quinn has “served faithfully,” the voters deserve a choice. Quinn said he enjoys the various aspects of his job and enjoys working with people that are similarly dedicated to the county.

Question 7: The candidates were asked what they would do to ensure that every defendant has a fair and speedy trial.

Quinn said one of the problems is when someone accused of driving under the influence takes a blood test, that test is sent to Frankfort, where it can be backed up for up to four months, but that there aren’t problems with speedy trials.

Braboy said that as a defense attorney, he hasn’t seen a case where getting a speedy trial was an issue, as generally an a defendant will take an offer, even if they are or say they are innocent, as it could cost more for them to be defended by a lawyer in a trial. He said he would give defendants every opportunity for a jury trial.

Question 8: The candidates, during the final question, were asked what prepared them for the job.

Braboy said his experience with dealing and relating with people is just as important as experience on the job, and that he has worked with attorneys and knows how to negotiate. Quinn again cited his experience as county attorney and said everything he’s done prepares him for the job.

Trigg County Sheriff

Gordon Mitchell and Ray Burnam are running on the Republican ticket, while Randy Clark, the current sheriff, and Keith Lancaster are running on the Democratic ticket.

Question 1: The candidates were asked what a person should do if they observe a theft on their property and call the sheriff’s office.

Mitchell said the person should look at what’s going on, and keep on top of it. Lancaster said the person should make mental notes but shouldn’t try to stop it, as someone’s on the way as long as the sheriff’s office has been called.

Burnam and Clark agreed with Lancaster’s assessment. Burnam said the person should stay on the line and should try to observe what is happening. Clark said the person should find out what kind of crime is being committed so that a deputy knows how to respond.

Question 2: The candidates were then asked if there are enough staff at the sheriff’s office to control and solve crimes.

All four of the candidates said there aren’t enough staff. Clark said there need to be more deputies to facilitate 24/7 patrols, and said they need an investigator. Burnam said the county should look at cops grants and Homeland Security grants to hire two more deputies, even if they are only hired for three years.

Mitchell and Lancaster said there isn’t enough money in the budget for more deputies, and Lancaster agreed with Burnam, saying that there are grants available, and added that he would try to find them. Mitchell said more efficient scheduling could be used to an extent.

Question 3: The candidates were asked about the issues and programs they see as the most important.

Burnam responded by saying the neighborhood watch is very important, and also said he plans on having town meetings to address important crime related issues. He mentioned a program called Cadiz on Patrol, a derivative of Citizens on Patrol.

Lancaster mentioned the fact that the county sends inmates to Christian County, which he said costs about $270,000 a year. “I can put up a big chain-link fence, throw an army tent in there and house inmates,” Lancaster said.

Mitchell talked about the D.A.R.E. program, which he said is still working, and mentioned Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and said the department needs to be visible. Clark said the sheriff’s department depends on people seeing what happened to be the sheriff’s department’s eyes and ears, and also commended neighborhood watch programs.

Question 4: The candidates were asked how they would administer non-law enforcement duties and make the run more efficiently.

“I’m going to have to research non-law enforcement duties,” Lancaster said. “I don’t know how a law enforcement officer can have a non-law enforcement duty. He’s law enforcement 24/7.”

Clark and Mitchell mentioned the tax collecting duties of the sheriff’s department, and Mitchell said the deputies need to be on top of it. Clark said his department collected almost $6 million in taxes this year and distributed them.

Burnam said the because of his service in the U.S. Air Force, he has experience with much larger budgets than the sheriff’s department is responsible for.

Question 5: The candidates were asked about how they would feel about video surveillance on street signs to deter crime.

Mitchell, Clark and Lancaster both said video surveillance could be beneficial and important, since, as Clark said, witness testimonies aren’t always accurate. Clark also pointed out that the sheriff’s department recently got a grant to put video cameras in deputies’ vehicles. Lancaster said funding has to be taken into consideration.

Burnam said security cameras on people’s houses that individuals can put up are beneficial, and that surveillance cameras in high-crime areas could do a lot of good, though he isn’t in favor of traffic cameras.

Question 6: For the final question of the night, the candidates were asked how they would combat the drug problem in the county.

Mitchell said deputies should be out and about and visible so that people know the sheriff’s department is looking for it. Lancaster said he has worked with the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force and added that he would like for drug dealers to be scared.

Burnam said the county needs someone or some agency that is dedicated to Trigg County, as the PNTF is spread across 12 counties. He also talked about the importance of confidential informants.

Clark said the PNTF has resources the county can’t afford, and added that the sheriff’s department works hand-in-hand with agencies like the PNTF, and that this is necessary for the sheriff’s department.
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