“Any incumbent has an advantage unless he’s made people mad. It’s hard to beat someone if they have done a good job, and I feel like I have. I try to treat prisoners like human beings. It’s important to respect people, even if they are in jail.”
Married for 46 years, and father of one son, Cunningham is a grandfather and great-grandfather as well.
Proud of his “33 years, 7 months and 18 days” in the service of the Federal Government, Cunningham said he began his career in the United States Navy, serving 4 years. He left the service rated as a Machinist Mate 3rd Class, and served aboard the USS Glennon, DD-840.
The remainder of his Federal career he spent at nearby Ft. Campbell, where he worked in training, housing and the Defense Reutilization Marketing Service Office. He retired in 1996 serving as a warehouse supervisor.
A cutback in social security benefits, due to his civil service pension made him seek state work to supplement his income. He took a job at the Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddyville, serving as a Corrections Officer for 33 months. This was his first experience in corrections.
He spent another 22 months as a deputy jailer in Trigg County. After this period, he was appointed to serve as head jailer to serve the remainder of his predecessor’s term by County Judge Executive Berlin Moore.
His first election was in 2002, where he won a 31% plurality of the votes against 7 other candidates in the Democratic primary. He defeated a Republican challenger in the November 2002 general election.
With his job radically redefined, Cunningham finds himself serving as a “jailer without a jail,” yet his responsibilities have seemingly increased. As the new county “Transportation Officer” he said he is on call 24/7, to return to the former jail where a prisoner is processed and make a drive to Hopkinsville. “I sleep with my cell phone. If a call comes in, I get dressed and come over to make a run.”
For the rest of this article, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.