Magisterial races: Some candidates agree, but some don’t

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In District 4, jobs are the hot topic. In District 7, there’s less agreement.

By Lisa King

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Candidates for the two open magisterial positions on the ballot Tuesday all want jobs – and for some of them its jobs for their constituents that are most important.

Five of the seven magistrates are running unopposed in the General Election – newcomer Eddie Kingsolver did beat incumbent Betty Curtsinger in the Democratic primary last May – but the issues candidates say are most important in Districts 4 and 7 sometimes have common ground and sometimes not.

For instance, in District 4, Republican Bill Hedges and Democrat John Lewis are focused on new jobs as the most important topic, and they are pretty much in agreement on the issue.

But in District 7, the prime topics differ – and incumbent Democrat Mike Whitehouse and Republican Jeff Carman certainly don’t appear to be driving in the same direction.


District 4 candidates concur

Hedges and  Lewis are pretty much on the same page on what the issues are in their area – the state of the economy.

Lewis said that area, which is the largest magisterial district geographically, encompassing Bagdad and Cropper, is blessed with a good variety of business as well as agriculturally.

He said believes that it’s important for people to shop at home.

“I think we should support our local businesses and buy locally grown products and shop at local stores,” he said.

Both Lewis and Hedges say they think job creation is important and say they would work to support that.

“New businesses equal more jobs,” Lewis said.

Hedges agreed.

“I also think we should provide tax incentives to encourage new business in our existing industrial park in District 4,” he said. “The new Kroger will have more job opportunities for Shelby County,” he said.

Lewis said that it’s important to bring in new business, but supporting existing merchants is equally important.

“New jobs are needed and would certainly help the economy, but we must also support our small-town businesses,” he said.

Both said they are aware that people in District 4 also are concerned about other matters, especially roads.

“Some of our county bridges and culverts have been widened, but the roads have not been widened and have no shoulders,” Hedges said. “These are unsafe and need to be addressed.”

Lewis said he hears what people say.

 “Whether it be taking care of a problematic tree, a dangerous road, or any other issue, I want to be an advocate for my constituents,” he said.

But the fact is, no matter what the outcome of the election, District 4 will end up with a magistrate with no experience, with the retirement of long-time magistrate Cordy Armstrong.

But County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger, a Republican, said he doesn’t consider that lack of political expertise an issue.

“I can tell you, I know both of them, and they are both very qualified candidates,” he said. “So no matter what, that district will be well-represented.”


District 7 disagreement

Over in the Finchville area, however, Whitehouse, who has held the seat for 21 years, and Carman don’t exactly see eye to eye.

When asked what they thought were the main issues in that area, Whitehouse said he mainly is concerned with keeping finances on track, and Carman said he thinks the state of the roads should be the main focus.

Whitehouse said that though he is concerned about road safety as well, he said you can’t take care of roads until you take care of funding.

Carman said he thinks the current magistrates don’t do enough communicating with road officials, both at the state and local levels.

“We need to reach out to the appropriate people on road safety,” he said, adding that he feels the speed limits on some of the district’s roads, such as Zaring Mill, needs to be lower.

“There is no reason for Zaring Mill to have a speed limit of fifty-five,” he said. “I know it’s a state road, but I still think we could run our concerns past them [state officials]; there is too much complacence among magistrates.”

Whitehouse said he and the other magistrates do stay in communication with local and state officials.

What do the officials have to say on the topic?

“Well, I certainly don’t want to take sides, but I can tell you that the magistrates call me all the time about road problems – they call 

me at midnight; they call me on Sundays; they even call me on Christmas Day,” County Road Supervisor Carl Henry  said.

Andrea Clifford, spokesperson for the Transportation Cabinet’s District 5, said her office hears from magistrates frequently in general.

Henry, who worked for the state for several years before heading up Shelby’s department, said even if magistrates do voice concerns about state roads, it’s much more difficult to get anything done there.

“If there’s a problem with a county road, my guys will be on it the next day, but if it’s  a state road…well, there’s a hundred and twenty counties, and they all have road issues. It would take a lot more than a magistrate to get anything done at the state level because you’re talking about years of planning and millions and millions of dollars.”

Carman said also that local magistrates are “stuck in the ‘90s.”

“Nobody knows what’s going on,” he said. “Maybe they need E-mail accounts; there is no way to reach out to them on issues.”

Whitehouse said he and all the other magistrates can be reached via E-Mail on the county’s Web site (www.shelbycountykentucky.com) and  also by phone.

“I always pass out my card, and I am in the community every day,” he said. “I have had no complaints of people not being able to get in touch with me.”