Commonwealth Journal

December 26, 2013

Only 45 have filed to run in ’14 election; a month left until deadline

Pace is described as ‘slow as molasses’

by Bill Mardis
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

With about a month remaining before the deadline to file for local offices, only 45 candidates have filed Petitions of Election in Pulaski County Clerk Ralph Troxtell’s office. The total does not include 11 incumbent judges, senatorial and state representative candidates who have filed for reelection in the secretary of state’s office in Frankfort.
Courthouse observers have described the filing pace as “slow as molasses.” They obviously are comparing the current office seekers with the 2010 local elections when, for example, 51 candidates filed for the five seats on Pulaski Fiscal Court. 
“Four years ago they were standing in line to file,” remarked Troxtell. There were 103 candidates on the ballots for the May 2010 primary elections.
This time, up until now, only 10 candidates have filed for the five magisterial positions. There is still plenty of time –– three days after the Christmas break in December and 19 days in January when the clerk’s office is open. January 28 at 4 p.m. is the filing deadline for local offices subject to the May 20 primary.
Political prognosticators are doubtful the total number of magisterial candidates this local election cycle will compare with 2010. Four years ago was the first election after magistrates doubled their annual salaries from $15,000 to $30,000. Each magistrate also gets $300 a month in undocumented expenses plus health insurance and retirement benefits.
Magistrates can set their own salaries. The law requires they do it prior to the first Monday in May in the year they are elected.
However, the swarms of magisterial hopefuls in 2010 learned it’s tough to beat an incumbent, especially when several candidates file against the person in office. In political theory, one on one with an incumbent gives the outsider a chance. However, split the anti-incumbent vote among several candidates and the incumbent, unless he has stubbed his toe badly, usually wins in a cakewalk.
You can bet the farm an incumbent officeholder has a pocketful of loyal voters; his or her employees, their families and friends as well as ties to his political party. In Pulaski County one has more chance to win the lottery than an elective office without support of the Republican party.
Incumbent magistrates prevailed four year ago. The four Republicans on fiscal court, despite howls about their seemingly high paychecks, won GOP nominations in May and reelection in November. The lone Democrat –– Kenny Isaacs –– vacated his seat on fiscal court to run unsuccessfully for county judge-executive, allowing newcomer Jason Turpen, a Republican, to outpoll 13 candidates in the primary and win the 1st District seat.
The 2010 May Republican primary ballot was crowded with magisterial candidates. There were 14 candidates in District 1; 14 candidates in District 2; five candidates in District 3; eight candidates in District 4; and five candidates in District 5. Another five Democrats and independents were not involved in primary elections and were on magisterial ballots in November.
As of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, an hour before the clerk’s office closed for a two-day Christmas holiday, magisterial candidates who have filed are:
• 1st District: Incumbent Jason Turpen.
• 2nd District: Larry Hines, Kenneth Decker, Dennis L. Wilson and Barry W. Flatt. Incumbent Mike Wilson has not filed.
• 3rd District: Jimmy Wheeldon. Incumbent Tommy Barnett, has not filed.
• 4th District: Incumbent Glenn Maxey.
 • 5th District: Incumbent Mike Strunk, Douglas Hughes and Thomas D. Stevens III (Bud).
All magisterial candidates who have filed Petitions of Elections are Republicans except Stevens, a Democrat.
Eddie Girdler has filed for reelection to a third term as mayor of Somerset, assuring a heated contest for the top spot at city hall during the 2014 local election cycle.
At this point, Girdler has one opponent, Alan Keck, vice president and general manager of Somerset Recycling Services Inc. However, Jim Rutherford, Ward 1 city councilman, has said he will run for mayor and there are hints others are interested in the mayor’s office.
City elections in Somerset are nonpartisan and the process is sometimes confusing to city voters. Candidates for mayor and city councilor must file by the January 28 deadline. If more than two candidates file for mayor, or more than two councilor candidates file in any of the city’s 12 wards, runoff elections will be held during May 20 primaries. The two top vote-getters for mayor and the two top-voters in each ward involved in the primary will advance to the November general election.
Filing for top elective offices in the courthouse is really, really slow. Incumbent Pulaski County Judge-executive  Barty Bullock and Steve Kelley both have filed and have been campaigning almost from git-go. 
There are other possible candidates for judge-executive. Former judge-executive Darrell BeShears said last week he is “still thinking about it.” Insurance man Rick Girdler has said he would like to be county judge. Some people tried to put Circuit Clerk George Flynn in the judge-executive contest, but Flynn said with tongue in cheek his real friends want him to remain circuit clerk. Neither BeShears nor Girdler has filed.
Bullock was elected four years ago with nearly 31 percent of the vote. Kelley finished second with 28 percent. BeShears, incumbent at the time, was third with 26 percent. Janice Clark, Jimmy Dalton and Dave Kinser also were candidates for judge-executive in the 2010 GOP primary.
There is almost standing room only in the contest for jailer. Rodney Stevens said on Facebook this week he will be a candidate for jailer. Stevens has not filed. 
Already filed for jailer are Gary Ed Cromer, Michael Hall, Anthony McCollum and Rodney Dick. David Moss, police chief at Ferguson, has indicated he will run again for jailer. Moss finished second four years ago in a three-candidate race won by Mike Harris. Harris said he will seek another term but has not filed his Petition of Election.
Candidates for other local offices who have filed Petitions of Election are:
• Pulaski County Clerk: Tim Price, Linda Burnett, Josh Anderson and Jim Reams. All candidates so far are Republicans who are seeking the office of retiring Ralph Troxtell.
• Pulaski County attorney: Incumbent Martin Hatfield.
• Pulaski County sheriff: Incumbent Todd Wood and Greg W. Speck.
• Pulaski County coroner: Clyde Strunk, Shane D. Haste, Scott Miller and incumbent Charles E. “Chuck” Godbey.
• Pulaski County surveyor: Anthony Glenn Thompson.
 G.D. Doug Baker, 1372 Dahl Road, is the latest constabulary candidate to file. Baker, a Republican, filed in the 4th District against James Mayfield. Richard L. New, incumbent constable in the 4th District, has not filed.
Other constabulary candidates who have filed since November 6 include:
• 1st District: Denny Allen Britt and Danny Weddle, both Republicans. James Foster, incumbent constable, has not filed.
• 2nd District: Clyde Molen, Carl David Jones, James Huesman, Christopher Roberts and Roy Chumbley, all Republicans.  Shane D. Haste, incumbent constable in the 2nd District, has filed for coroner.
• 3rd District: Travis Gillilan and Brad Wilson, both Republicans. Richard Gene Palmer, incumbent constable, has not filed.
• 5th District: Incumbent Michael “Wally” Wallace and Kenneth Hembree, both Republicans.
Candidates for offices in multi-county districts who have filed at the secretary of state’s office in Frankfort are:
• David A. Tapp, circuit judge, 28th Judicial Circuit, 1st Division.
• Jeffrey T. Burdette, chief regional circuit judge, 28th Judicial Circuit, 2nd Division.
• Marcus Vanover, Family Court judge, 3rd Division, 28th Judicial Circuit.
• Jeffrey Scott Lawless, district judge, 1st Division, 28th Judicial Circuit.
• Katie Gregory Wood, district judge, 2nd Division, 28th Judicial Circuit.
Tapp, Burdette, Lawless and Wood are incumbents. Vanover was recently appointed Family Court judge, succeeding retiring Walter Maguire.
  • Incumbent Court of Appeals Judge Michael O. Caperton, 3rd Appellate District, 1st Division, and James H. Lambert, 3rd Appellate District, 2nd Division.
• Matt Bevin, Louisville, and Gurley L. Martin, Owensboro, both Republicans, and Tom Recktenwald, Louisville, a Democrat, all for U.S. Senator.
• David Meade, 80th House District, a part of which extends into Pulaski County. Meade succeeded retiring Danny Ford.
Incumbents Ken Upchurch in the 52nd District, Jeff Hoover in the 83rd District and Tommy Turner in the 85th District have not filed for reelection. The 24th House District, formerly extending into five northern Pulaski County precincts, because of realignment is no longer a part of Pulaski County.
Chris Girdler, elected last year as state senator from the 15th Senatorial District, is not up for reelection next year. He succeeded the retiring Vernie McGaha.
Filing deadline for most local offices is January 28. Independents, small cities and school board candidates have until August 12 to file.