Incumbent Ray Burnam (R) and challenger Matthew Riddle (R)
Riddle’s opening statement: Good evening, everyone. Bear with me, I’m not used to sitting while I’m talking. I’d like to thank, first of all, Justin [McGill], the ladies of the Republican Party. Thank you for doing what you do. My lovely wife, Kimberly Riddle. I thank you for being here and supporting my decision to run for sheriff of Trigg County.
A little bit about my past: I’m a veteran of the United States Army. I was in the 101st Airborne Division, 9th 101st Aviation Regiment, 2nd Brigade. In ’96, I was involved in a helicopter mid-air collision, which is probably one of the main reasons that I’m still not on active duty at this time.
In 1997, I was honorably discharged from the United States Army. In 1999, I began my law enforcement career in Cadiz, working for the Cadiz Police Department, and I was sent to the Department of Criminal Justice Training Center in Richmond, Ky., where I graduated, and I was put to the streets.
I was mentored by very good people at the Cadiz Police Department and Trigg County Sheriff’s Office and the Kentucky State Police at that time. There’s a gap in training. In 2007, I had a little boy, and he was sick and the Sheriff at the time, Randy Clark, told me to go home and take care of my family, which I did. Sad to say, he did not make it, and I came back to work in 2012 and 2013 and worked for the current administration, Ray Burnam, as a Trigg County Deputy Sheriff.
I want to be your sheriff. Some people say they want to do the job. I want to be your sheriff. And I have the history in Trigg County as a patrolman. I patrolled the streets, I patrolled the county roads under the Sheriff’s Office and the Cadiz Police Department. I get along with everyone. Kentucky State Police, Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force, we now have the law enforcement agency in LBL, U.S. Forest Service, and we have a lot of good people. And I want to be the one that works with them, and continues this law enforcement agency into the future for Trigg County. Thank you.
Burnam’s opening statement: My name’s Ray Burnam, and I’d like you to reelect me as your sheriff. Four years ago, I sat up here and I made four promises to you if you’d elect me. I told you I’d focus on kids, drugs, theft and unsolved murders. I kept my word. It’s made a lot of people mad.
Four years ago, we had several unsolved murders. Now that I come before you, we have one less. I’ll work well with others. What I won’t to do is go along just to get along. There’s a lot of rumors going on out there that I don’t get along with the other agencies. I have two professional disagreements with the Kentucky State Police, and it’s over a couple of murder cases.
Back in November 2012, I was ordered to cease and desist on one of my murder investigations following up. I was told that they were going to act on information that I gave to them, so I backed off.
About a year later, I was up pretty close to the Interstate on [U.S.] 68. I got a text on Facebook, a Facebook text like I do very often. That text gave me some information that I thought that I could solve that case that day. I went to Mr. Choat’s family and I told them, “I think I can solve this. I think I can do it today. If I fail, the case may go away, I’ll be blamed for it. Give me the opportunity.”
Which they did. I went to Owensboro. I was there not an hour. I contacted State Police, I contacted [the] Commonwealth Attorney. I solved that case. That’s probably my big accomplishment, the day that I’m most proud of, that I’ve accomplished in these last, in this administration, in my time here.
My biggest failure is that I’m not able to go to Chantell Humphries’ family and tell them that I’ve got him. I hope you reelect me. I’m going to push harder than I’ve ever pushed before to find out who killed Ms. Chantell Humphries. That bothers me every night I go to sleep. Every day I wake up, I think about that case.
I’m the person that if you elect, I will stand up and tell other agencies. I’ll work with them, but I’ll tell them to stop, this is wrong we’re going to do it a different way.
Question 1: Why do you think that you can do the best job as sheriff?
Burnam’s answer: Harvey Choat. I’ll just start out with that. That is one of our biggest accomplishments. When I was with the Kentucky State Police, I had been deployed over to Scott Air Force Base. And I was given information on both Chantell and Harvey Choat. When I was a trooper, I got information, pretty much the same information back I got when I went and found out who did it, murdered him. I passed that on the State Police, it wasn’t acted on.
When I was elected Sheriff, I went to the State Police and told them exactly what I was going to do, and I did it. And we accomplished that.
I think our other accomplishments is, we bought a Ford F-150 with drug money that the drug cases that we have solved. We’ve taken tens of thousands of dollars off our local drug dealers. I’ve not been as successful as I’d like getting dope dealers in jail and spend a lot of time in jail. The way this country’s going, that’s just not happening. So we took a different approach, and we’re taking their stuff, and we’ve been really successful at that. And we’ll continue to be successful and go after the stuff that the drug dealers possess.
Riddle’s answer: Ladies and gentlemen in the audience, I’ll get along with every agency. Kentucky State Police, Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force, if they need an office they can have my office. Cadiz Police Department, all agencies, I will unite them like they have never been united before.
Crime Stoppers. I will make Crime Stoppers bigger than life if I can. It’s very important, and that was a good thing that the current Sheriff has done for this county, is Crime Stoppers. We have a lot of good people behind it right now. Crime Stoppers is a great thing, it’s what helped solve one of the recent murders that Sheriff Ray Burnam was involved in.
Burnam’s rebuttal: One of the things that I’ve heard, that I don’t let the State Police use our building. That is a complete lie. Our building is accessible to any law enforcement agency 24/7. They do have to call us, one of us has to be there. I have to have administrative control of that building. We have evidence, we have things in our office. We have to have positive control.
It’s open 24/7 [to] anybody that needs it. We’re working on getting our accreditation, become an accredited agency.
Riddle’s rebuttal: Ladies and gentlemen, the evidence room has a lock on it. The trooper, if he needs something, he has to drive all the way to Mayfield. He works out of Mayfield Post, and the Sheriff understands that. If that individual, if that trooper, is in this county and needs paper, needs batteries for his camera, needs whatever, he needs to know that he can come into my office and he can get that.
Right now, I’m not sure if the troopers here in this county possess a key to enter the Sheriff’s Office. I’m almost positive they can enter the Cadiz Police Department. Thing is, it’s [a] 45-minute drive to Post.
Question 2: Should deputies of the Sheriff’s Department patrol both in the city and county, or just the county alone?
Riddle’s answer: My deputies will patrol the entire county. Of course, there’s been a lot of times where I’ve had to patrol Land Between the Lakes, and we all know that’s a large area, then I would have to answer a call near the Exit 56 near Blackhawk.
Deputies can and will patrol the city limits of Cadiz. What the deputies will not do is, try not to do without first notifying the patrolman on duty with the Cadiz Police Department. We do not want to enter a jurisdiction that is controlled by the Cadiz Police Department. The city taxpayers pay for that.
We do not want to contaminate an ongoing investigation. That can easily happen. It’s been happening. We do not want to go somewhere without knowing what we are getting ourselves into. We do not want to contaminate an investigation. Yes, we will patrol the entire county.
Burnam’s answer: Absolutely. We will go anywhere we’re called, in the city, in the county, you call us, we’re going to come. We have never, we will never, try to take a call from anyone else. We had a meeting last Tuesday, I think it was, and I reiterated that. We don’t ever try to beat someone to a call, and I told all the deputies, “If you ever do that, you’re fired.” We never do that. We are going to come when we are called.
As far as contaminating an investigation, Harvey Choat, I’ll go back to that. Did I contaminate that? That was a second, another investigation, another set of eyes looking at something. That’s something that nothing was being done on. And I will always assist another agency. If I see something that’s wrong, you bet I’m going to step in. That’s what you elect a sheriff for.
A sheriff is a leader, unlike any other law enforcement officer in the United States. Everyone else are state officers. They have governors, they have mayors, they have the President. all of these that they answer to. The sheriff doesn’t answer to those folks, the sheriff answers to you all, and that’s who I’m there for.
Riddle’s rebuttal: Ladies and gentlemen, if you can picture running a parallel investigation side-by-side with another agency, in these times, an individual can easily lawyer up. You can’t ask any more questions until his attorney’s present.
Now if I’m running an investigation side-by-side or parallel with the Kentucky State Police, I don’t know everyone that’s lawyered up, and is declining to speak. Contaminating a case is so easy to do. I will assist the Kentucky State Police and any other agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife. I will assist all these agencies, but I will not contaminate their investigations.
Burnam’s rebuttal: Name one that I’ve contaminated. Harvey Choat, solved it. As far as lawyering up, you have 14 days, the Supreme Court says, to get an attorney, and after 14 days, you have to ask for a note.
I’ve never contaminated a case. And it’s always been said, if one agency’s investigating, or an officer’s investigating, no one else can. I don’t who come up with that, that’s the best way to work to get away with a crime. You got a buddy that’s a police officer, you did something, you’re going to tell him you did it. He opens up a case, and no one else can look into it. That’s not going to happen under my administration.
Question 3: No matter the person, are you willing to make the arrest if needed?
Burnam’s answer: Absolutely. Your name, your position, your title makes absolutely no difference. I think that we have proven that. I’ve made arrests where people have offered me money.
“Do you know who I am, do you know who my daddy is?” It makes no difference whatsoever. We will do our job. We always have, and I have the deputies know if they ever gave a ride home or they did not do their job they’d be fired, immediately.
Riddle’s answer: I will make the arrest if needed. In the past, in Trigg County, we have had instances within the last four years where the individual was not transported to the Christian County Jail, and I can’t answer why.
You can research the records, it’s public records, you can go research yourself, and you can find cases and how they’ve been deferred out of Circuit Court and kept in District Court, for various reasons. Yes. I will arrest. It doesn’t depend on your name, or who you are or the status you hold in this county.
Burnam’s rebuttal: The cases going from District to Circuit, I disagree a lot with some of those. But that’s not my call on what goes up. There’s a lot of cases that didn’t make it to Circuit Court that I disagreed with.
There was one of our cases. I just went to homicide training where what a prosecutor wants is a witness, physical evidence and a confession. I had all three on a methamphetamine case that was brought in from California to Trigg County, and I couldn’t even get a true bill. And I would just like to ask if he knows a person, you all have a right to know who that person is, so I can answer who didn’t go to jail, and why.
Riddle’s rebuttal: Like I said, it’s public record. I’m not going to name names or case numbers. I’m sure there’s more than one. I would ask that you take time and research some of the things that happened, took place within District regarding Circuit Court. Your name, or your status, should not affect the jury better than somebody sitting out here in the audience.
I get dressed the same way you do every day. I’m no better than any one of you, but I will enforce the laws.
Question 4: If given the names of drug dealers, will you, and are you willing to go and to arrest them and take care of them?
Riddle’s answer: In reference to drug dealers, I have a kind of a different look on this. We have what’s called the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force. We have federal agents, Madisonville, McCracken County.
If an individual is selling drugs in Trigg County, City of Cadiz, Canton, wherever it may be, I will build cases against that individual to get him off the streets. Now arresting the individual for a first-time sell, I want to be in control of who he sells to.
I want to use the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force and the DEA to build a case and get that individual off the streets, because in the last several years, there have been a lot of arrests made by the Trigg County Sheriff’s Office, but the drug dealers are back on the streets. We need to get them off. Building better cases will do that.
Burnam’s answer: I think my record speaks for itself on that. And as far as that goes, a lot of our drug arrests have been in the City of Cadiz. The Cadiz Police Department had access to the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force and everybody that my opponent says, so why haven’t they been doing that? We’re the ones that have been going out there and doing it. Yes, they’re not spending very much time in jail, but they weren’t before I was sheriff.
Y’all are going to have to take care of that. You’re going to have to elect Supreme Court Justices, federal judges and state judges to put them in jail and keep them in jail. I agree 100-percent they need to be in jail. But that’s a fight I can’t fight alone. And so what I have done is taken their stuff. We took a truck, a Chevy truck, from a drug dealer, gave it to [Trigg County] Rescue, took $8,000 when I first became Sheriff. $8,000 off a local drug dealer right in the city limits.
Those people didn’t just start selling drugs when I became Sheriff. Most of those people, when I made the arrests, yeah, they were out within 45 days, something called shock probation. Then they came out and I arrested them again. I’m doing my part. These other people in the justice system is not doing their part. And that’s going to be up to us to get those people in there to keep them in jail.
Riddle’s rebuttal: Ladies and gentlemen, we can use other agencies. We can use outside resources. He said himself, he’s arrested them and they’ve gotten back out and he had to go arrest them again. And he will arrest them, over and over and over.
I do not want to arrest a drug dealer over and over and over. I want to build a case against a drug dealer, and if I can use federal, DEA, out of Madisonville, I will do so. I will use any resource available to me. I will reach out to anything I can to make sure the drug dealers stop selling drugs for good to the children and citizens of Trigg County.
Burnam’s rebuttal: That’s been available to him as a Cadiz Police Officer, as a Trigg County Deputy. It’s been available to every agency that’s here before I was Sheriff and since I was Sheriff, and it’s not been utilized.
I’ve come in and I did it different. I’m going to arrest them the night it happens. There was one drug dealer that was on Lafayette Street that we got and took $8,000. I worked with the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force. They made two buys and they told me, “You guys were calling me, getting on to me. Ray, you lied to me, you ain’t going to get the drug dealers.” And I called them, I said, “If you don’t do it, I will.” It was on a Tuesday night.
That Thursday night, I had him in jail and 8,000 of his drug dollars. We’re going to get them the night it occurs and put them in jail that night, not wait.
Question 5: What is your opinion of the recent Cadiz warrant amnesty program, and do you think that’s something that should be tried again?
Burnam’s answer: Absolutely. I think it was a great initiative. We had several people come to our office. It helps us out tremendously. It saves us gas; we don’t have to go get them. Several people showed up. It was kind of funny. They was kind of timid, it was like, is this a joke, are you going to jump out and arrest me.
I think as it goes forward, people are going to see that this actually is a good thing. It’s not a trick. You can come and take care of it. Whoever thought it up, it was a great initiative.
Riddle’s answer: I’m 100-percent for it. I’ve been witness to something today that, to me is a big deal. I stopped by the Cadiz Police Department, and a phone call came in from Orlando, Fla., commending the Cadiz Police Department and the local agencies for doing what they’re doing to try to get these resolved. They had stacks and stacks of them down there, but they cannot get this through.
Look at the child support that’s out there. This is a good way to get the money back to where it needs to be: to the families that need it.
Burnam’s rebuttal: I just think going forward, I hope that we can work together on that, and do this routinely. Again, I think that is a great thing. Folks can come in. I think it’s kind of a double-edged sword. Some people get offended if they see their name in the paper, but I think that that’s a pretty good thing.
One, they should have taken care of it, but some people don’t know that they have a warrant, and that may be something you put in there. I hope that they do continue that, that we can continue to do that on a routine basis, because it helps us out a lot as well.
Riddle’s rebuttal: I agree completely. I think we need to continue doing this.
Question 6: Data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicates that in 2012, 22 percent of larceny theft offenses were cleared by law enforcement agencies in the United States. According to these statistics, in the Kentucky State Police 2012 Crime in Kentucky Report, the Trigg County Sheriff’s Office cleared 6.5 percent of theft responses. The Cadiz Police Department cleared 29.6 percent. What can the Sheriff’s Department do to increase the Department’s clearance rate for theft charges?
Riddle’s answer: I believe you’re talking about where the Trigg County had an average of 18 percent, and the S.O. was putting out 6 percent. More deputies on patrol in the county. Right now, we have, I think four dedicated deputies on patrol. That means that’s their primary job.
Now in 2007, I worked for Sheriff Randy Clark. Our budget was $368,000 estimated. I believe in 2014, the current budget is $590,637. Now we’re looking at over $200,000. And when I worked for Sheriff Clark, we had, I believe, four deputies at that time, and we have four deputies now. But the budget has increased over $200,000.
Now we need to tighten up. We need more deputies on patrol. I was out on Bay Lane, Livingston Way. They don’t see patrol cars on patrol and the reason is, we do not have enough deputies and cars to be out there, doing a proactive stance against crime, theft of property. That’s the only answer, is more patrol cars, more deputies on the roadways.
Burnam’s answer: One thing we can do, is what some of the other agencies do. When we make an arrest, close the case to up our statistics. That shows a lack of integrity. We’re not going to do that, because the case is not closed when you make an arrest, it’s beginning. It’s got to go to trial. But that’s a way to bump your numbers up.
I told you four years ago, the crime rate may skyrocket in Trigg County, because we’re going to open cases when cases happen. Now one of the things we haven’t been as good at is closing those cases out. A lot of those cases, we’ve made arrests, they’ve been adjudicated and the people are in prison right now.
And we haven’t got to go back to Kentucky Ops, where statistics are made, to close them out. There’s a couple of reasons for that. One of the biggest reasons for that is one of our main guys has been out sick for the last year.
But as far as patrolling, we have five deputies and one animal control, so I don’t know where the four deputies comes from. We have six and myself. We’re down one deputy, and if I’m reelected, in the next budget, I will ask for another deputy. We do need more deputies to patrol. We have been very good at solving our theft crimes and getting restitution.
Riddle’s rebuttal: Where I get my numbers is, we have a Sheriff who’s primary supervisor of the department. We have one on sick leave, one position that was not filled. We’re downsizing, I’m not sure why. We have four primary patrolmen, we have one animal control officer. That’s the numbers.
Training, training, training. Training deputies to solve cases such as theft, burglaries, we need them focused on solving these cases, not just to close out but to close the crime and get a restitution for the homeowners.
Burnam’s rebuttal: Just got back to look at our record on what we’re solving. When I first took office, in Linton we were getting hit two or three times a week. And that’s when we started our Crime Stoppers and Neighborhood Watch. We started talking about that.
We had a meeting, and that was on a Saturday night. I asked the folks, I said we’ve only got a certain amount of deputies. We can’t be here 24/7. If you see something, call me. I don’t suggest that you do what they did. They followed the guy. The pursuit started in Trigg County, went to Christian County and ended in Clarksville, Tenn. I sent Dane Hughes down for about two weeks. We got eight of 13, they call it the baker’s dozen, of a crime ring in Kentucky and Tennessee. We’re getting them.
Question 7: We’ve all had times in our lives when we have failed, or not done as well as we’d like to have done. Tell me of a specific time like this in your case. What actions did you take, and what was the outcome?
Burnam’s answer: My biggest regret in the last four years is the Harvey Choat murder case. I could’ve done what I did the day I took office. But I worked with. I worked with. That taught me one thing: if I’ve got something, I’m going to stand with you.
I’ve been accused of not being a team player. I am a team player but I’m on your team. I’m going to do what’s right. But I waited. I didn’t act on what I knew. A young lady at a bank in Owensboro had a gun pointed to her head, and from all reports, the trigger was pulled and it wouldn’t click.
Can you imagine if that was you? How would you answer that person? How does the State Police answer that person? How does anybody that didn’t follow up on information answer that? That case could’ve been solved years ago, but it wasn’t. I got involved in a 2002 and 2008 murder case. That is not interfering with anyone else. That is something that, if I could go back and do different, that would be the one thing. I would’ve taken more action on Harvey Choat.
Riddle’s answer: Mine’s a little bit more personal. Ladies in the audience and individuals at home, a lot of people know me. My greatest failure was not being able to solve an illness that struck my son when he was four years old.
I’m a huge supporter of pediatric cancer research at St. Jude’s Research Hospital. Some foundations, I do everything I can to help these people. My son was diagnosed with a brain tumor. We can put people in space, we can build the Samsung cell phone, but yet something as simple as a brain tumor. I failed him, because I could not save his life.
On a personal level, that’s my biggest thing that’s happened in my life that I couldn’t fix, and I’ve regretted every day. But I will use every dollar I’ve got to help other people in the same situation I had. If the child is sick, St. Jude’s should be your first referral. Don’t let local hospitals get your money. I’m very thankful for the surgeons that operated on my son, but the reality is that I should’ve educated myself more and not trusted the word of a doctor telling me to keep staying at that hospital and not go elsewhere for treatment.
Burnam’s rebuttal: I want to back to something that was said earlier about the Troopers have to go Mayfield if they need something. That’s a lie, okay? I was with the State Police. What they have, they have relays set up. They have the Post Captain who lives in Trigg County, and they have a Sergeant who lives in Trigg County.
If a Trooper needs something, it’s relayed back to them from Post. A Trooper has never come to me and asked me for paper, batteries, anything, that we’re not there. And we will always be there. But again, I’ve got to have positive control over that office. The local officers at Mayfield don’t have keys to Post One, because it’s a professional organization. That’s not the way you do things in a professional organization.
Riddle’s rebuttal: We all stand as one as law enforcement. We should train, we should use the same facilities. Like I said, the evidence room is locked. The doors at the Sheriff’s Office have locks. I don’t know any Trooper here, a Kentucky State Police Trooper, that’s going to try to steal from my office. If he needs my office, he can have my office.
I know one Trooper who went, I don’t know how many months, with a printer that didn’t work. And as you know, Troopers, they use computers in their car, and they print off the citations on their printer. Ladies and gentlemen, that Trooper needs a printer, I will find money to get him a printer or buy it out of my own salary.
Burnam’s closing statement: I’m not going to be a Sheriff that’s going to walk lockstep, hand-in-hand and sing Kumbaya with everybody else. I’m going to lead law enforcement. I think that’s what you elect a Sheriff to do, that I didn’t go along, that I did go out and conduct an independent investigation. We solved one of our murders.
And I pledge to you here today, if you reelect me, [the] Chantell Humphries murder case can be solved. I believe that 100-percent. I don’t believe it’s going to be solved here, though. I think that we got to get the federal government involved. What makes people mad, and it will come out, is I recorded people. And that’s what every one of are going to hear when it does finally make it to trial.
That’s something that crossed the thin blue line, thin gray line, whatever police line you want to call it. We do it when we investigate you, and I don’t think whatever badge, whatever uniform we’re wearing that we’re any better than you. And we can be investigated just like you.
Riddle’s closing statement: Ladies and gentlemen in the audience, ladies and gentlemen, children at home, I want to be your Sheriff of Trigg County. I want to take this Sheriff’s Office into the future. I want to promote all agencies involved, the Crime Stoppers. I want to make it bigger than life, as I said. That’s been a wonderful resource that our current Sheriff has implemented in this county.
I want to build bigger cases against the drug dealers. I want more town hall meetings, which is another good thing, but we have few and far between. I’d like to see more of them done, even if we have to on a monthly basis. Ladies and gentlemen, I ask that you vote for me. I want to be your sheriff.
Carmen Finley (D) and Melissa Burgess (D)
In her opening statement, Burgess said she’s a Trigg County native and has 25 years of experience, including in the Trigg County Clerk’s Office and the Cadiz Police Department. The records should go online, she said, and the hours should be extended, maybe later in the week or on Saturdays.
Finley, in her opening statement, said she has worked in business for 20 years, and for the past five years has worked for PACS (Pennyrile Allied Community Service) as the director of RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program), where she manages five people and many more volunteers. She said she works with state and federal governments for grants and other things. Her goals are to serve Trigg County in a friendly office, and put the records online.
Question 1: Why do you think you can do the best job as County Clerk?
Finley’s answer: I have proven management experience. I asked Dorris [McGill, current Trigg County Clerk], I said, “Dorris, what do people do when they come in your office? What do they want you for?” And she said, “Usually, they want clarification on something, or they have a complaint.”
So I’m accustomed to management. I’ve been in management for several years, and I feel like that that job is a management job.
Burgess’ answer: I feel like, being at the Police Department for 13 years, I’m the only office worker there, so I’m the person everyone sees when they walk in the door. I’m the person to answers the questions or direct them in the right direction.
I have put systems into place in the Police Department that have helped with the functions of the department itself. And I feel like being in the public like I have been, I can do a good job. I love talking to people. I don’t meet a stranger, and I feel like to be Trigg County Clerk, you need to treat your employees with respect, and treat them the way you want to be treated. And I think that’s the best way to handle the office.
Finley’s rebuttal: I would just like to agree with Missy. I think that the staff that we have at the current County Clerk’s Office does a fine job for the citizens in Trigg County. And my thought is to keep things going in a positive way.
I want to see things, I want to educate people in the community and let them know that we are a resource if they have questions. I’ve always been a friendly, outgoing person, too, so I hope you’ll feel comfortable coming in.
Burgess’ rebuttal: Like I said, I don’t meet a stranger, and I welcome anybody in the office. I want it to be a friendly office, where anybody feels like they can come to me with complaints, suggestions. I’m open for suggestions. I’ve already spoke with several people in the community, wanting to know what they want from the office, and everything seems to be going well.
But I’ve talked to realtors, I’ve talked to the car dealerships. Like I said, I want everyone’s opinion of what they expect from the office, because the office is for the citizens of Trigg County.
Question 2: What previous experience, professional or otherwise, do you have with the Trigg County Clerk’s Office?
Burgess’ answer: When I worked for attorneys, I did title opinions, and I was in the office every day, researching the deeds and mortgages and all of the records in there. I know how important the records are, and how delicate they can be. I know they are scanned online back to 1975.
I also have experience with working elections. I worked several elections, and I have helped with the Sheriff’s Office with property tax collection in years past. And the property taxes go to the County Clerk’s Office after they leave the Sheriff’s Office.
Finley’s answer: I’ll be honest: I don’t have experience in the County Clerk’s Office. But I have experience working in an office, and managing a staff, and taking care of records, and managing federal and state and local government records, and keeping them organized and straight.
Working for [a] community action agency, you’re required to keep good records, dot your I’s and cross your T’s. So, I am fully aware of how to run an office.
Burgess’ rebuttal: And I also deal with all of our paperwork, too, to the state. I’ve dealt with grants, and I know how important it is to get things done in a timely manner. Like I said, the systems I put in place in the Police Department, before I was there, no one had ever gotten anything put on the computer or any systems into place. All the Officers took care of things themselves.
And I’ve taken care of everything put together so that it is more accessible. And that’s what I want for the Clerk’s Office, is to be accessible to the public.
Finley’s rebuttal: I also have maintained and written budgets. That’s something that’s very important, especially when you’re taking care of county money. And I can assure you, if I’m elected County Clerk, I’ll make sure that we’re tight with our money, and we use it in the best interest of Trigg County, and we also send some back to the Fiscal Court, so that they can better serve our county.
Question 3: What experience would benefit you if elected County Clerk?
Finley’s answer: I currently serve four counties. In my business experience of 27 years, I’ve traveled all over this nation, doing sales, purchasing, marketing, customer service. And currently, being director of a program in four counties, I’m traveling quite often.
And I can tell you that it’s time for me to come home. I want to come home and serve my home community. That’s what it would mean to me. It would mean a lot to me to be able to come back and serve my community.
Burgess’ answer: This community means a lot to me. I’ve worked here my whole 25 years of office experience. And I know how important it is for the community to accept you and feel like they can come to you for anything.
Like I said, in the Police Department, there’s nine men, and keeping track of everything, and getting everything where it needs to be, sometimes can be complicated. Also, I can handle myself in any situation.
Being at the Police Department, again, you never know what’s going to come in on a daily basis, but you’ve got to be able to handle yourself to be able to ask the right questions and know what is needed and be able to answer correctly, and get everyone where they need to be and the answers they need.
Finley’s rebuttal: I believe in being organized. I’m a spreadsheet girl, I like my spreadsheets, and I feel like I can offer a lot to the job. I think that I’m the best qualified for the job, based on my experience and my knowledge and my qualifications. And I hope you’ll remember that when you vote.
Burgess’ rebuttal: I also feel like I’m the best qualified, because I have the experience in the office itself. I have hands-on experience. And then I’ve dealt with the office also, with grants. I’ve dealt with highway safety grants, homeland security grants. And I know how important it is to keep records up-to-date and keep them in an orderly fashion.
Question 4: The County Clerk’s Office deals with taxpayers, both on motor vehicles and delinquent taxes. Customers are often unhappy when they come in the door, so it’s the Clerk’s responsibility to handle these situations. How would you handle a confrontation with a customer if they became loud and unruly with a Deputy Clerk?
Burgess’ answer: Like I said, I’ve dealt with all kinds of situations in the Police Department. You have to keep an even tone, and you need to find out what their questions are, so that you know how to get the right answers. If you don’t know the answers, you know to say, “I do not know the answers, but I will find out for you.”
You don’t want to leave anyone with questions that are still unanswered, so if I don’t know the answer, I will find out. And if I do, I will be glad to help them. And like I said, I know people can be upset at times, but you’ve got to know how to keep your tone even and get the answer they need.
Finley’s answer: I’ve dealt with a lot of people that have issues, and the best thing to do is to be a good listener. And that’s something that I pride myself on. I’m quite a good listener. If they’re unruly, then I would bring them into my office, and I would let them talk. And then once they cooled down, then I would talk and make them feel at ease and then let them know that they came to the right place, and that we’re going to make it easy for them.
If I’m elected Clerk, I want to keep it simple for people in Trigg County, and make them feel at home when they come in their office, because this office belongs to you.
Burgess’ rebuttal: I know that the office belongs to the citizens of Trigg County. To tell you a funny story, my husband was told last week that I’m too quiet. But I’ve learned to sit back and listen. You can learn a whole lot by listening, instead of chiming in on every comment that’s made.
Finley’s rebuttal: One thing that I’ve learned in my personal career, my working career, serving the public is where I need to be. I worked with people all over the country. I’ve worked in New Jersey, and I’ve worked with people in Atlanta, Ga., and all over this great country selling propane tanks.
And I can tell you, people are people. And as a Christian, I love all of God’s people. And that’s all I can do. I can love people as they come in, I can treat them with dignity and respect.
Question 5: What would you do differently from the current Trigg County Clerk?
Finley’s answer: Dorris has done a wonderful job in her short stint as Trigg County Clerk, and I appreciate the direction that the Clerk’s Office is in. It’s very nice. One thing I want to do for sure is put the records online. I want to make it more convenient for people that work out of town. I want to update the web site and add some more information.
I want to educate the public about the privilege of voting. I think all the people here are voters, but there are a lot of people missing tonight that are not voters. And I think we need to educate our kids about what it means to vote.
I also want to be a good steward of the money and give the receipts back to the county, so that the county can take care of the business that needs to be taken care of here.
Burgess’ answer: This is going to sound like the same answer, but I think we both have some of the same goals in mind. I do want the records online, because from working for attorneys and using the records on a daily basis, I know how important it would be to be able to access records from an office instead of having to go to the Clerk’s Office.
I also want to extend the hours to one Saturday a month or later on Fridays, just depending on what works best for everyone, for people who work out of town. As far as the budget, I do know how it is to work under a budget, I do know you have to pinch pennies.
And I know Dorris has done a great job with her budget. I know this last year, she turned over $128,000 to the Fiscal Court, and she’s turned over money every year. And that’s the way it needs to be, so that the county will more money to do the things they need to do. So I will plan to keep it that way. Dorris has done a great job. She’s had a short term as County Clerk, but she’s been in that office for over 30 years assisting other Clerks.
Finley’s rebuttal: I’d just like to say it’d be my honor to be able to serve the county and to follow in Dorris’ footsteps. And the other Clerks have been there many years, too. So I think that I can learn a lot being a Clerk working for those young ladies.
And I can tell you, I’m a fast learner, and I’m not afraid to get in there and get on my hand and knees or whatever it takes to get the job done. I’ve always been a worker, and I look forward to the opportunity.
Burgess’ rebuttal: I also can learn from the people working there. They all have a great deal of knowledge, and I plan to learn every job in the office, because to earn respect, I want to do everything in there. I don’t want to ask anyone to do anything I won’t do myself.
And I am a hard worker. Anything you give me, I love a challenge. I’ll do anything as far as working. Ask my husband. He’s had me cutting tobacco before. So I’m sure he can answer for that.
Question 6: A lot of people live by life mottos. If you have two, give two life mottos you think will help you if you are elected County Clerk.
Burgess’ answer: I think you should give people more than they expect. Don’t just give them the answer they want, go above and beyond and give them more. Another saying that I have known for some time is, if it angers you, it conquers you. And I’ve had a hard time learning this, but I have learned it. If you keep anger and unforgiveness in your heart, you cannot move on, so you cannot stay angry. You’ve got to cope with that, deal with the situation at hand and handle it, and move on.
But I will tell you, I know this isn’t a motto, but this is a scripture. This is something I refer to quite often: Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through God who strengthens me.”
Finley’s answer: If I had a motto to live by, I’d have to refer back to scripture also, and our commandments. First is to put God first and forthright in whatever I do, and in all decisions. And I can tell you, I prayed pretty hard before I got here tonight, because it’s such a big deal to serve God’s people. And I want to be able to serve God’s people. And I feel like as a servant of God, I have to serve my community and serve the people that love God, too.
Burgess’ rebuttal: Philippians 4:13, it’s on my match cover. I wanted to put that on there so if anyone happened to see that and wanted to ask someone, maybe it would lead someone to Christ. You’ve got to put God first, and I know going in to this I prayed hard, and I know if it’s God’s will, it will happen.
I have done 100 percent of what I can possibly do during this campaign, going door-to-door personally, meeting everyone and talking to everyone. So if it doesn’t happen, I can’t look back and say I regret anything, because if it’s God’s will, it will happen.
Finley’s rebuttal: I just think that it’s an opportunity to give back to my community that I’m proud to call home. I was born here in Trigg County Hospital. Dr. Bryan delivered me. My parents have lived here for 53 years. I’ve been here all my life, except for my time in college. It’s my home. And I can’t think of a better place to work and to be able to serve the people here.
Finley’s closing statement: Thank you all for the opportunity to come tonight and to speak to you. And I just want to say, it’s been a blessing to go out and see people face-to-face. I’ve really enjoyed that part of it, more than anything. And if I haven’t knocked on your door, I will, I’m coming out. But I hope that you will remember me in this election. I know that I can do the job. I know that you’ll be proud of the work that I do. And I hope that you will remember me.
Burgess’ closing statement: I thank everyone for being here tonight, also. My friends and family, they have supported me for the past several months, and they continue to support me. If I become County Clerk, they will continue to support me. In the past few months, I’ve made every attempt to speak to each one personally. If I’ve not gotten to you, I’m still going out. I’m going out every evening after work and every Saturday. But I promise that I will run the office with honesty [and] integrity. I will be friendly and lead by example.
Incumbent James Hughes (D) and challenger Larry Bland (D)
Bland’s opening statement: I’m Larry Bland. My dad, B.J. Bland, was a preacher in Muddy Fork. My mother went into labor and my uncle had to take us to the hospital. I spent my first 10 years here in Kentucky, working in the tobacco fields as a six-year-old. And then my dad’s job, he was a union iron worker. His job took him down to Louisiana.
And I had my formal education down there, went to college, playing football in college until 1974. I joined the United States Army, and I went in at the end of the Vietnam era, and I had a couple of years of college, so I was too smart for them to send me to Vietnam. They put me in a nuclear missile unit. I had top secret clearance. Then I went back to university.
All I’ve done all my life is train to be a public servant for public safety. And most people who has as much education as I have are called doctors. But mine is in the field of law enforcement corrections. And I’d like to use this to improve our jail system, our jailer’s position, and make it cost effective for the taxpayers. I think that’s the people that I serve, and that’s the people that I’m going to answer to.
Hughes’ opening statement: Good evening. I’m James Hughes. Thank you for coming tonight. Thank you for letting me be your jailer since 2007. Your support has been great. I was born and raised here in Trigg County, worked here my entire life. I served the United States Army for two years. I’m a country boy. I know what hard work is all about, and commitment to a job.
I owe a lot of things to a lot of people that support my job: my family, my deputies, [Trigg County Judge Executive] Hollis Alexander, his staff, [Trigg County] Fiscal Court members, District and Circuit judges, law enforcement of Trigg County, the Circuit Clerk’s Office, the County Attorney’s Office and Christian County Jailer Brad Boyd. Without all these people, I could not do my job.
I am proud of my accomplishments during my term as jailer. I started a community service program in 2008, where I worked throughout this city and county, putting in over 3,000 hours of community service to save tax dollars. I am pleased to say that I have been underbudget every year at least $100,000 or more. Now it is time for another election. I ask you to vote on May 20. Vote to reelect me, James Hughes.
Question 1: The jail closed a few years ago, and when that happened, we went to a different type of jailer in Trigg County. Does Trigg County County need a jail, and would it be feasible to build one?
Hughes’ answer: We can’t afford to build a jail. The county just cannot afford it. A new jail would cost about $7 million, and the expense of operating a jail would hit the taxpayers so hard, we just could not afford it.
Bland’s answer: I agree 100-percent that we cannot afford a new jail. It’s quite expensive to build a jail. But there is another alternative. We could have holding cells, we could hold inmates for a short period of time before you have to transport them out to a regional jail such as the Christian County Jail.
Also, we could look into giving grants to halfway houses. The state government’s going big into rehabilitation of drug offenders. There’s an argument they’re going to be called back into session for a heroin bill. And this is some of the things that Jefferson County, Lexington, Covington, they need space for rehabilitation centers.
I think that we could get involved in that, and it would be beneficial. There would be jobs created, and it would benefit our community.
Hughes’ rebuttal: We do have holding cells, but I don’t see the purpose of holding them. If you have a holding cell, you might have to sit there for two or three hours and not have another one to transport. The best thing to do is to transport them all to the jail, and put them where they’re going to start with.
Bland’s rebuttal: In law enforcement, there’s often times that you’re unable to transport right away, because of actions going on. If there’s a full moon, I’m sure that the Sheriff can tell you when there’s a full moon, there’s a lot of activity. I would be nice to have a place that we could, for a period of time, maintain the offender, especially in cases of drunk and disorderly and DUI, where they need to sober up.
Question 2: Do we need deputy jailers in the county, and if so, how many do you think we need to have the county jail transportation operation run efficiently?
Bland’s answer: Yes, there’s definitely a need for deputy jailers, mainly for transportation, but also for a holding cell where we could call a deputy jailer out to observe misbehavior or if it’s a drunk person. I think we could do it with three. And it’s one of the things that I have considered in talking to Judge Alexander.
If I’m elected, I want to get Collin Carlton. I worked with him in the pen for several years. He’s a professional correction officer who knows his job, who treats the inmates the way they treat him, and who knows how to control an unruly individual.
Hughes’ answer: Yes, we have to have deputies. I have two full-time and one part-time. You have to have deputies. You have to three times a week go to court, and sometimes two or three different directions. We might go to Evansville and pick one up, and maybe a van load from Hopkinsville, so there’s no way around not having deputies. No way.
Bland’s rebuttal: I agree 100-percent. There’s a definite need. And the biggest portion of their job is in transporting. But what I’ve had a little problem with is the use of the county vehicles as personal owned vehicles. That’s one of the areas that runs the most expenses: gas, transportation, vehicle wear-and-tear and the price of gas.
It’s outrageous, as each and every one of you know. If we can keep that down, we can return funds to the county for other purposes, to help the people out.
Hughes’ rebuttal: Yes, we have to have deputy jailers, no question about it. But as far as him saying about vehicles, any time an arrest is made, we have to be there in 15 minutes. So you have to be close to your vehicle. We are on call.
Question 3: How do you deal with unruly prisoners? There will be some who are disorderly and hard to handle. What’s your best solution?
Hughes’ answer: Normally, before they’re turned over to us, the arresting officer always helps us get them shackled up, handcuffed and in the vehicle. And then we go on to Christian County Jail with them.
Bland’s answer: I’ve got plenty of experience with this, being that I worked in the penitentiary for several years, and worked in segregation, where you get the worst of the worst, the jail within the jail. They issue you a mace, and mace is to be used to an unruly individual.
But a lot of is just knowing how to deal with people in general, and learning how to talk to them. You know that 26 percent of inmates at county jail are mentally disturbed, and the state’s at 56 percent, so got to know how to be a psychiatrist, so to speak. You got to know how to talk to them and make them understand your point of view.
And you don’t have to be rough with them all the time, just when you do have to get rough, you’ve got to be the boss. You’ve got to show them. And there’s nothing wrong with sneaking up behind them.
Question 4: What do you bring to this office that you could add to this office?
Bland’s answer: First of all, my experience. I started in law enforcement back in ’79 in Louisiana. I worked in the New Orleans Sheriff’s Office, at the old parish prison, which had been condemned since ’64. And then when I came back here to Kentucky in ’94, I started at the penitentiary, and I worked there up until last year.
I’ve got plenty of experience, I know how to handle inmates, and I know how to handle people in general. I want to give back to the community, that’s my thing. I want to be a public servant. I just hope that each and every one of you will tell everybody else to get out and vote, because 7 percent of the people are going to decide who gets to be the jailer, and that’s sad.
Hughes’ answer: I’ve been jailer for almost seven years. I haven’t had any real problems. I operate on budget, which I’m always underbudget, or I have been so far. And my goal is to save tax dollars.
Bland’s rebuttal: It’s pretty simple to operate underbudget. All you do is, you jack it up, then add 10 percent, and then when it comes time for the budget, well I’m underbudget. And you say, well I’m going to increase the budget, but I was under last year, so I’m going to increase it. I can’t understand that.
Why does the budget increase? If you was under it last year, you should be decreasing. It should be decreasing to what you’re actually spending, and then that way, you can budget the other funds for the use of the public, for recreation, for things of that matter.
Hughes’ rebuttal: A jail budget is hard to figure. It’s impossible to know how many arrests you’re going to have, and it’s impossible to know how much they’re time going to spend in jail. It’s hard to come up with a dollar, an exact dollar.
Question 5: Do you think community service should continue to be part of the jail program? Is it an effective use of your time and the time of the prisoners?
Hughes’ answer: Yes. I started this community service in 2008, and we do various jobs all over the city and county. Our biggest job, I guess, is picking up trash on the roadways. We do any job that the city or county asks us to do. It saves a lot of tax dollars in a year’s time.
Bland’s answer: Definitely. I think that if you put them to work, and make them realize that they’re not going to be able to lay up in the prison or jail cell and watch TV all day, that it will be a deterrent for them to return as an offender.
Also, I’ve noticed in the paper today that they got $8,000 out in unpaid fines. And they had a list of people, somewhere between 100 and 200 people, that have not paid their fines and all. And the thing about it is, you arrest this guy, and you put in him jail, he ain’t going to be able to pay the fines. We need to put him on work release and make him work, make him pay restitution to whatever he owes.
Hughes’ closing statement: I want to thank you all for coming out tonight. If reelected, I will continue to do the job you know that I have done in the past seven years. I appreciate your vote May 20.
Bland’s closing statement: I don’t know what I’m seeking this job, because I really don’t want it. But the Lord moved on me to that I need to continue my public service. This is something that’s in my blood. And I’m not doing it for me, I’m doing it for you. I appreciate if you’d go out and vote for me. I know I don’t have a lot of face recognition, nobody knows me. Well, I’ve been in prison for the past 19 years down at Eddyville. And if you work in Eddyville, you don’t make enough money that you can make a living. You have to have a second job.
PROPERTY VALUATION ADMINISTRATOR
Incumbent Michael T. Bryan (D) and challenger Connie Allen (D)
Allen’s opening statement: Good evening, everyone. I’m Connie Allen, and I’m running for Trigg County Property Valuation Administrator. I was born and raised in Trigg County, and I’ve been married to my husband Bobby for 32 years, and we have a son Justin. We are proud to be lifelong residents of this county.
Before I filed to run for Property Valuation Administrator, I worked in the office for 33 years. Most of that was as the Chief Deputy. If you called or came by the office in the last few administrations, I’m sure that you have already dealt with me, that I helped you in any way you needed.
I’ve taken much pride in the years in being your public servant, and learning and utilizing the technology that goes on in the PVA office. Whether it be the mapping program that I’ve drawn the property lines on most of the properties in the county, or the tax roll and tax bill preparation that I have been in charge of, I am a hands-on worker, and I love my job.
Now is the time to elect someone that has and can do the day-to-day operations of the office, and has been the go-to problem solver. That person is me. If elected, not only will I bring the office into the future, but I will make sure that when you come into the office, I will be there to answer your questions about property taxes. I will even be able to help you find your grandparents’ farm that you don’t know where is. I have the experience, the knowledge and the years of service to do that. Thank you for your time, and please vote for me.
Bryan’s opening statement: Good evening, everybody. Thank you for coming tonight. It’s good of you to take your time to show up and have interest in our candidates. My name’s Michael Bryan, I’ve been the PVA in Trigg County for 20 years. Those of you who have voted in support of me in the past, thank you very much.
Before I was PVA, I was first a licensed real estate agent in 1978. I’ve maintained my license for 36 years now. Before that, I graduated from Trigg County High School. I went to college a couple of years, the draft was very high then, and I was drafted into the Army at in July of ’68. In December of ’68 I was sent to Vietnam. I served with the 101st Airborne Division for a year. I came back, tried college again, but it just didn’t work out.
So I worked in the real estate business and outside sales. I moved to Houston, Texas, for 10 years. I worked for Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company, which is kind of ironic, in the sales force, being a Louisville-based company, and decided to come back home.
I was in the real estate business, I enjoyed it, enjoyed talking to people. At that time, Berlin Moore was not running for PVA again, so four of us ran. I was fortunate enough to be elected that first time, and I’ve been PVA ever since.
My goal in that office is to treat everybody the same and try to be as fair as I can. We are governed by statutes, constitutional laws, and I do the best I can. Each year, I take 40 hours of continuing education. 15 hours is all that’s required. I’ve successfully all three IAAA, which is International Association of Assessing Officers. I’m a Senior Kentucky Assessor. I enjoy my job. Thank you for your support.
Question 1: What would you do differently?
Bryan’s answer: Most of our office procedures are guided by state statutes, the constitution. One thing that we have done, that’s in effect, not fully completed but it should be by the end of next week, is we do have a web site now. I can call the office, give you an address, you can go up and look up property records up, print them off online, but we still like to see you come in.
As far as doing things different, I don’t know much we can do. We have guidelines we follow from property tax in Frankfort, and we just try to work with the taxpayers of Trigg County and keep all the money in Trigg County that we can instead of sending it to Frankfort.
Allen’s answer: If I’m elected, the one thing I’d do differently is that they realize they have an online system right now that’s being outsourced. I am sure that that could be kept in the office with the current office staff. That way, the money that goes to paying them would be able to be kept within the county.
I believe, as far as the online technology, our maps could be put online. I know they’re not 100-percent correct, but they’re as correct as they’re going to be for a while. They need to be online for the people who choose to want to look at those online.
I’ll be as fair and even with everybody as I can. That’s the main thing. You’ve got to treat everyone the same. Nobody like’s property tax, but they are okay with it when you treat everybody exactly the same.
Bryan’s rebuttal: I’m not sure what I outsource, other than computer tech that keeps our computers updated, virus protection, backups going. So far, as of July 1 of last year, I’ve spent $256 on them. We do things in the office that all PVA offices don’t do.
We print the tax bills for the county and the city, and that realizes almost $6,000 a year in income that a lot of PVA offices don’t have. So I figure I can spend 250 – 300 on a computer tech.
Allen’s rebuttal: I believe that QPublic is the one that does the computer programming and like I said, that can be kept in office and kept updated by the office. And then, if you are paying them to keep up your computer system, then that is money that can be kept within that office.
Question 2: If any changes are made to those services, what kind of cost changes will that entail? Where does that money come from? If there are any additional services that can be put online through the PVA office, does that have any effect on staff?
Allen’s answer: No, I don’t think that can have any effect on staff. If I’m elected, then, I’m a hands-on worker, and have been for years. And I’d be the one getting in there, just like everybody else, so the staff wouldn’t be affected. As far as money, like I said, you keep as much money as you possibly can in that office with the office staff, and of course myself.
I don’t expect anybody else to do anything that I can’t or don’t know how to do. You just keep it in the office, and you save the money the best you can by doing everything you can do in that office with the staff that you have.
Bryan’s answer: QPublic does our web site, they do most of the PVA offices’ web sites in this part of the country. I’m not a computer tech. It doesn’t cost very much, because you pay for hits, which pays for that web site. If we didn’t think it was cost-effective, we wouldn’t be doing it.
As far as expenditures in the office, my budget is approved by the Property Tax Revenue Cabinet every year. Sometimes it’s adjusted, sometimes it’s not. Right now, I’ve got $34,000 in a checking account, because I’ve been able to save money over the years. The budget in Frankfort is getting very tight. I’m probably going to lose a lot of that and have to send it to the Kentucky State Treasurer to keep my deputies working. They’re not my deputies, they’re your deputies, keep them working. So things are a lot different that you don’t see unless you are the PVA.
Allen’s rebuttal: I understand that. I still think there are some ways that the money that goes to QPublic can be kept in that office, and save a little bit more money. Everybody pulling their fair share can save money by keeping the employees the way they are, keeping down the cost. I enjoy doing the computer stuff, and I can sure help with that and make sure that that does save the money that comes in there.
Bryan’s rebuttal: I believe QPublic costs us $1,500 a year. And if I can’t get any more than that on people buying hits on that web site, then they take the hits I’ve got off of that. It’s a pro-rated cost. And it should be at a point where it doesn’t cost us anything, and I don’t have to damage the computers and computer programs trying to do it myself. That’s why I use them.
Question 3: What kind of fees go to the realtors whenever they call in with property questions, and is there potential for any change to any policy in that regard?
Bryan’s answer: Most of the time when realtors call in, they want a copy of a property tax card, or they want an aerial, or they need information on the tax card. Most of the time, we mail that to them. I don’t have a problem doing it.
This web site’s going to take a lot of that away. They will go on at their office, get it themselves, it’s going to be cheaper than calling and having us e-mail it to them. I think it’s going to be very successful. And I haven’t heard any complaints of realtors or appraisers or bankers or anybody about having the web site.
Allen’s answer: That will depend on if it’s more cost-effective to do the web site. Then you need to look at the costs that you were charging the realtors or anyone else. For the web site, if it’s saving you money, then you need to decide whether or not it is cost effective to maybe look into what you’re charging somebody else for something that they need.
The things that they are asking on there, a lot of that is required that they have to have. They can call in, there’s some things they do require that we do give them. If you’re saving money, if you’re saving money in the office, then you might need to look at your fee schedules and see how those fee schedules may help somebody else.
Bryan’s rebuttal: Fee schedules are determined by KRS [Kentucky Revised Statutes] and the Property Tax Revenue Cabinet. I have a copy of them hanging in the wall in the room where we have our public computer. The public can come in, look up the information thereself, it doesn’t cost them anything. I am supposed to charge more, according to the statutes, than I do for the information they get. Web site fees are determined by KRS’s also. I don’t make this stuff up. It comes out of Frankfort, and I try to abide by it as best I can.
Allen’s rebuttal: Yes, that schedule does come out of Frankfort, it is posted on the wall. But each PVA has their own decisions on what they charge, and how they charge up to what the state mandates.
Question 4: How do you handle an unruly or upset customer who’s upset about what the office has or hasn’t done for them?
Allen’s answer: I’ve see a lot of irate taxpayers in 33 years, but I feel like the reason that most people come into the office is, most people don’t want to pay property taxes. It’s not something that people love to talk about.
But if you sit there and allow them to vent what’s wrong, most of them aren’t physical, they just want to tell you why they don’t like this. You sit there and you listen to them, you give them a way to explain to you what they don’t like. That diffuses most situations.
And then you can talk to them and explain to them that while they don’t like this, at least you try to treat everyone the same. And most of them can walk away with a smile on their face.
Bryan’s answer: The ones that come in and are irate with me, not a lot of them walk away with a smile on their face. But, I handle it myself. I don’t allow deputies to talk to an irate taxpayer, they don’t make enough money. I don’t either, but it’s my job.
Most of the taxpayers, including myself before I was PVA, need to be educated about Kentucky tax law. They’re very tough. Dorris will tell you, regarding automobiles, people don’t understand why the Blue Book says it’s worth this this and you’re charging taxes on this amount.
Well, you explain that we don’t use the Blue Book. Revenue says we use the NADA. I don’t mind explaining to somebody how tax rates are set by the county, the city, all the districts, and I do the assessing for the taxes. That’s my job. Most of the time, they leave a lot happier than when they came in. But we work for the public, and that’s who we try to please.
Allen’s rebuttal: That is right, we do work for the public, and that’s the ones who we have to please. When you talk to a person, you can also ask them, there’s always ways to maybe help. There’s ways that you can help them to lower their property taxes, especially on vehicles. High mileage and things of that nature, you can bring up. You give them any reason to realize that you are not against them, that you are on their side, and that you are going to sit there and listen, because that’s what your job is.
Question 5: What can be done to improve the efficiency of the office?
Bryan’s answer: There’s always room for improvement. We try to work on that every day. I have four deputies at the present. They were all hired to understand that if you can’t deal with the public and you’re not happy working here, you need to find another job. Life’s too short to be someplace where you don’t want to be.
I have good deputies, they do a good job for me, and there’s the little things that we do, find every day, to improve and help the taxpayers. The biggest thing that I try to do for the taxpayers is take them on why/how Kentucky taxes are set.
Allen’s answer: I think the women that work in the PVA office are excellent. I’ve worked with all of them for years, and I think they all do a fantastic job. I enjoyed working with them whenever I was there.
To improve the efficiency, I think that my job, if I was elected to PVA, would be to get in there and do what I did when I was Chief Deputy, is to help do the job and make sure that everything is running smoothly. It’s the supervisor’s job, whenever they’re in there, to know what everybody else’s job that’s being done. The supervisor needs to know what everybody else does and how to do it and how it can be done. If you cannot understand what everybody else is doing, then you cannot the job efficiently and you cannot expect them to do the job efficiently.
Bryan’s rebuttal: I try to hire people that can do the job. If I’ve got to do everything in the office, why do I need anybody else? I do oversee what they’re doing, I understand what they’re doing, maybe not necessarily car computers. They are a nightmare. I didn’t do them, Connie did them. She was doing them 10 years before I got there.
The deputies do a good job. I don’t want to know how to do the car computers, the boats, things like that, because I don’t have time for that. My job is to assess your property for tax purposes That’s what I do, and that’s what I’d like to continue to do.
Allen’s rebuttal: I’ve done that for a long time, but I think that to be a good PVA, that you need to be able to know how to do everything in that office. There is time enough if you’re a manager to do the manager part, but there’s also time enough to make sure that you know how to do what everybody else does, in case you’re in a situation [where] you’ve got to be there by yourself, you need to be able to run that office and be able to do it without any help from anybody else.
Question 6: Why do you feel like you’re the best candidate for PVA?
Allen’s answer: I feel like I’m the best candidate because I’ve been there 33 years, through several different administrations. I’ve been able to pull the good and the bad from a bunch of different PVAs. I know how to do and run all the programs in that office. I know how to help with the computers. I can do the computer parts of it.
I love to work with the public. I think that everything combined, my knowledge, my years of experience and everything combined does make me the best candidate.
Bryan’s answer: I’m experienced in assessing property. That’s my job. We used to have a computer program that did it, and it was too expensive, so we didn’t redo it. I keep up with what the market’s doing, what the houses are selling for. It could be raised, it could be lowered. I keep up with costs, replacement costs on property. That’s my job.
I’ll be honest. I don’t want to know how to do all those computer programs. I’ve got four good deputies who can do them. I trust them and they do a good job. If they have a question, they ask me, and together we figure it out. I know how to run all the programs, I don’t know how to do them all, but I know what they’re doing. My job is to assess your property in a fair manner, treat everybody fair, and be nice.
Allen’s rebuttal: I’ve also assessed some of the property in that office. At times, I’ve been the one doing all the assessing in that office. Maybe not with Mr. Bryan; I did assess with Mr. Bryan. I also assessed when Mr. Moore was there. And that’s a job that I can do. You need to know how to do everything and be there for every part of it. You’re in for 100 percent because the taxpayers are paying you for the whole package.
Bryan’s rebuttal: The constitution of the state says I have to keep that PVA office open 37-and-a-half hours a week. It says nothing about me having to be there. I probably spend more time in the PVA office than most PVAs do across the state. It’s my job. It’s what you pay me for. I take it upon myself to deal with irate taxpayers. I assess your property, and that’s what I’m being paid to do, and that’s what I’d love to continue to do.
Bryan’s closing statement: I enjoy this job. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be running again. I’ve had people ask me, “Well, you’ve got enough time, when you’re old enough to retire, why don’t you do it?” What would I do? I enjoy working with the people. I work with a lot of our local organizations, Relay for Life, Cadiz Rotary Auction, Oak Grove Church, the Sportsmen’s Banquet, events at the schools and several other community items.
I would like to tell you that we have very important races in this election. Those of you, vote, get your neighbors to vote. You young people in here, it’s good to see you. When you get old enough, register to vote. Thank you again for being here. Our door is always open. Our phone lines are open most of the time. I’d appreciate very much your vote.
Allen’s closing statement: Thank you to my family and friends and everyone else who came out to support me in the election. I want to say I’ve worked there for 33 years. I’d really like to be your PVA.