BROOKSVILLE — Numerous candidates attended the Bracken County candidate forum Thursday ask residents for their vote.
Each candidate was given three minutes to tell why they were running and should be elected. No questions were accepted during the forum.
Bracken County Chamber of Commerce President Perry Poe served as the host for evening and had each candidate draw a number that would decide the order in which they would speak within their category.
For judge-executive, four candidates spoke, including Democrats Tina Teegarden, Ashley King, Rob Schweitzer and Republican Gary Hicks Jr.
Teegarden said she believed herself to be most qualified for the position, after working in the judge-executive’s office for 21 years.
“You may hear some people say I’ve just been a secretary all that time,” Teegarden said. “That’s not true. I’ve served in this office for almost 21 years. My duties have expanded well past the duties of a secretary. I am the FEMA applicant agent for the county and I handle all emergency funding requests.”
Teegarden said her goals include creating revenue, bringing in industry, boosting tourism and improving the fishing lakes.
“I will work hard for this county,” she said.
King said he has worked in Bracken County for over 17 years in heavy construction and, although he has no government experience, he understands making a budget work and believes he can help the county grow.
“I have experience with farm budgets and I know how to get things done,” he said. “I know that together with the other magistrates, we can accomplish our goals. It will be a win-win for everyone. I want to explore new revenue options and have a close relationship with all of the businesses in the county.”
Schweitzer said he wants to grow the county and help bring in more tourism.
“I want to see the county grow” Schweitzer said. “I want to see a future for the kids in Bracken County. The infrastructure is important and has to come first, but I want to get out and create ways for more people to come to Bracken County. I think it’s a great place to live and I want to see it thrive. I want programs for our youth. I know it all takes money and I’ll work on that, too.”
Hicks, though not running until November, as he is the only Republican candidate for judge-executive, talked about his vision for the county.
“The one thing that strikes me as just phenomenal is just about giving our community is to their neighbors,” he said. “I can tell you that I am a successful leader, I’m a problem solver, I’m a Christian and a man with a vision for the future of Bracken County. My 20 years in the Navy, I was successful, because I was passionate about it. I came back to Bracken County, because this is where I want to be. I started a business and I served the county in that business for many years. Over the 40 year period of running a business and being in the Navy, I learned how to problem solve and that’s what I can do for Bracken County.”
In the sheriff’s category, Democrats James Cox, the current Bracken County Jailer, Kevin Stears and current Sheriff Howard Neimeier spoke on their goals.
Cox said he has been jailer for the county for more than 11 years and feels his experience in the position will help him as sheriff.
“In the last couple of years, I’ve been able to bring $13,000 back into the county,” he said. “If I can do it as jailer, I can do it as sheriff. I want to work with the Augusta and Bracken County schools to help make them safer and work to clean up the drug problem in our county. As you all know, there are drugs everywhere in the county and I want to fix that. I will work hard for you as your sheriff.”
Stears said one of his goals is to clean up the drug problem in the county.
“I’ve been in business for myself for the last 20 years. I’ve built houses for a lot of you sitting here, I run a trucking company now,” he said. “I feel like my experience will help me to run the sheriff’s office. If I am elected, if you need me, I will be there for you. I want to help educate our kids and keep them from drugs and get the drugs out of our community.”
Neimeier said he has served as sheriff for the last several years and has worked hard for the county, something he would continue to do.
“Neither of my opponents have law enforcement experience,” he said. “To hold a position like this, to run a sheriff’s office, you need that experience. I have over three decades of law enforcement experience. During my time in office, crime has dropped 62 percent, training and professionalism has been enhanced. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s been 36 years since a sheriff with no law enforcement experience has been elected. I feel that doing so now would set us back. I’ve been here for everyone in this county since I was elected and I want to continue to be here for you.”
The candidates for Augusta West Magistrate, Democrats Jackie Hopkins McMurrin and Craig Miller made their case to the voters.
McMurrin said she has experience in several areas that she could bring to the fiscal court.
“I a full-time marketing rep,” she said. “I have about 20 years public service. I was on the Augusta Independent School Board for over 17 years and I currently serve on the Augusta City Council. I was one of the people who voted in favor of the sewer plant, which may not seem like a popular idea, but we have to have a sewer plant — both Brooksville and Augusta. We also need good internet and cell service. There are areas of the county in which the service is almost non-existent. Those are just some of the things I’m tackling. I also plan to work heavily with tourism and I believe we can accomplish great things when we work together.”
Miller told a story about growing up in Bracken County.
“I’m going to tell a story of a student growing up in Bracken County,” he said. “This student moved away for seven years and found his way back home. He moved home to take over his family’s business. The story describes my past, but this position is not about me. I want to make this county a place where people can follow their dreams.”
Others who spoke during the evening included the candidates for County Clerk, jailer, circuit court clerk, Foster magistrate, Augusta East magistrate, Chatham magistrate, Brooksville magistrate, Germantown magistrate, Berline magistrate, Milford magistrate, district judge, property valuation administrator, county attorney and coroner.
The Kentucky Primary Election is May 22.