Photo by Lisa Bicknell
Five candidates participated in the sheriff’s forum on March 29. From left, they are Kevin Chaney, Terry Carroll, Teddy Hunt (standing), Chris Flynn, and Ken White. Angela Osborne, in back, served as the forum moderator.
By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
Candidates for Estill County sheriff were given the opportunity to introduce themselves on Thursday night during the second of a series of political forums being sponsored by the Estill County Public Library, the Estill Action Group, the Estill County School District, and Pickup Country 104.9, in partnership with several local media outlets.
Candidates were also asked several questions about their hopes and plans for their time in office, should they be elected. The candidates each drew a question from those submitted earlier by citizens of the community, and each was given opportunity to answer all the questions.
Ken White was the first candidate to introduce himself. Among the qualifications that he listed is that he is a graduate of the police academy, has 25 years of law enforcement experience, 14 of which acquired as the Ravenna Police Chief. He added that he has heard a lot of citizens’ concerns and complaints during the 20 years he has headed up the Toys for Tots program.
“I want to make this a safe community for your kids and mine,” he said.
In written comments submitted before the forum, White also said he wants everyone to feel comfortable in coming to the sheriff’s department with their complaints and concerns, so they can work together for a better Estill County.
“The public knows what is going on in their areas, and I am willing to take that information and hopefully reduce the crime rate and illegal drug usage,” he said. “There are still people who won’t report something, because they either don’t trust law enforcement or think nothing will be done. I want to change that way of thinking, so everyone will feel that their problems will be taken seriously.”
White said that he’d like to maintain an open door policy.
“My sheriff’s department will be known for its dedication, honor and integrity,” he said.
Teddy Hunt introduced himself as the husband of Missy Brandenburg Hunt, and the father of four children. He is an employee of IMU. He said he served eight years with Winchester Fire Department and EMS, and he also successfully managed a construction business during that time, where he managed several employees and a budget. He has served the community for 33 years in various organizations, including being a member of the fair board for 20 years, a volunteer fireman for 33 years, and a zone director for the Kentucky Association for Fairs and Horse Shows. He considered running for sheriff ten years ago, but because his children were younger, decided to wait until a later time.
Hunt named the four main duties of a sheriff: serving the courts, tax collection, election duties, and “last but not least”-law enforcement. Hunt said he thinks sheriffs should be formally trained, as he himself was at EKU. Hunt served as police chief in Ravenna for three years, and he also served as a deputy under the current sheriff for one year.
One of Hunt’s greatest aspirations for the county is to eliminate the drug epidemic, to provide safer communities for families, and assist the school board and school resource officer (SRO) in providing a safe schooling for the children.
Because of funding shortfalls, Hunt sees a lack of manpower as one of his biggest obstacles to reaching his goal, but he said he will seek more funding through grants and other sources.
Chris Flynn introduced himself as the son of Glendle and Brenda Flynn, and as the husband of Ashley Watson Flynn. They have two children.
Flynn served in the United States Marine Corp for eight years, where he reached the status of Staff Sergeant. He also served as a Reconnaissance Marine. Since Jan. 2013, he has operated Flynn’s Auto Service.
Flynn recited the Reconnaissance Creed and said the core set of values stated in the creed often provide guidance for his life and his business. He said he would instill those same values in his deputies. Flynn has always felt a call to serve, and he has wanted to be sheriff since he can remember.
In his written responses, Flynn said his main hope is to make the community a safer place for the citizens of the county. He also said he wants people to walk into the sheriff’s office and feel that their concerns are taken seriously and that he and his staff are there to work for them.
He sees the communities main challenges as the current drug epidemic and the county’s current financial situation.
Flynn also outlined a crawl, walk, run plan. “We can’t start sprinting on day one,” he said. During the crawl phase, he sees cutting unnecessary expenditures and instilling professionalism, leadership by example, and uniformity into the deputies to earn the county’s respect.
He would also like to organize neighborhood watch programs and assist in setting them up, and he thinks it is important to work with law enforcement in Irvine, Ravenna and the state to maximize resources.
Terry Carroll introduced himself as an employee of Lockheed Martin and a former deputy sheriff, where he says he gained valuable experience and knowledge of the job requirements, which included “serving warrants and testifying in murder trials.”
“Ninety percent of you here today will only need the sheriff’s office during tax collection,” he said, adding that the other 10 percent will need them for traffic accidents, thefts, robberies, etc.
“I will respond to emergency calls from the dispatch center,” he said, “and I will do whatever is possible to decelerate criminal activity in the county.”
Carroll promised to work to recover stolen items and to convict crimes against citizens.
He also said he’d patrol the community, that he’d maintain an open door policy, be approachable and hold conversations confidential. He expressed a desire to increase rehabilitation services and said he’d like to see more occupational opportunities for those in recovery from drug addiction.
Kevin J. Chaney introduced himself as someone who has been of public service to his community for 25 years. “I spent over half my life telling people what Jesus Christ can do as your Savior, but right now I want to take a few minutes to tell you what I can do as your sheriff,” said Chaney, also a minister.
Chaney spoke of his concern for the safety of churches and schools in the community. He said if elected, he would encourage every church to provide their address and service times, so his department can actively patrol and attempt to deter any criminal activity around them. He also said he has offered his full support to the Board of Education, and his top priority would be the “safety of our children.” “As soon as our county can afford it, I’ll be on the judge’s door knocking for the addition of another SRO,” said Chaney. Chaney is also very concerned about the huge impact of drugs within the county, and said he has been visiting with local groups that work with addicts. He said there are some addicts who don’t know where to turn.
“I will invite all those who want help to come to my office. I’ll be there for you,” he said.
Following the introductions, each candidate drew a question which had been submitted and screened earlier by forum organizers. All candidates had opportunity to answer each question.
1)With the jail being closed, how do you see the prisoner transport issue affecting the duties of the sheriff’s office and how might you deal with it?”
Ken White answered that the jail has hired transport officers who do most of the transport, but on court days, the sheriff’s office helps out. He said if the jail opens back up, that problem will take care of itself.
Teddy Hunt said he doesn’t think the change has affected the sheriff’s department as much as people think, and that the sheriff’s department is required to transport some inmates by law anyway.
Chris Flynn said he doesn’t think it will affect the sheriff’s office greatly, and he thinks the judge’s new plan to transport inmates is going to save some money, but “if the jail needs help, I’m all about helping them.”
Terry Carroll said that transporting is a big part of the sheriff’s department’s job, with the only problem that some days courts are busier than others which can take sheriff and deputies out of the county for an extended period of time. Carroll said they would have to “make do with it” until they figure out what the county is going to do with the jail.
Kevin Chaney said when he was deputy sheriff, the jail was closed for a short time. As far as interfering with deputies making arrests, it shouldn’t make much difference, although he acknowledged that it is an inconvenience and costs a lot for medications, emergency room visits and meals. “Hopefully, the county will get turned around and we’ll get our jail opened back up,… but whatever’s needed is what we’ll have to do.”
2) What are three of the most important problems you want to prioritize?
Teddy Hunt said the safety of the children, the drug problem, and to eliminate crime are his priorities.
Chris Flynn said drug rehab programs, school safety, and trainings for sheriff and deputies are his priorities.
Terry Carroll listed combating drug activity, insuring school safety, and, one of his main priorities- “answering 911 calls, assistance calls, or just any question.”
Kevin Chaney said the safety of children in the schools, safety in the churches, and being more aggressive in combating the drug problem are some of his priorities. He also wants to conduct sobriety checkpoints according to KSP protocol, in an effort to get people who should not be driving off the roads.
Ken White named the drug problem, which he said affects nearly every family, and the safety of children. He also said he would answer all calls. “I want everybody to know we will take their concerns seriously.”
3) If elected how do you intend to recruit and retain deputies?
Chris Flynn answered that the department would have to give deputies incentives and provide them with trainings because “the big thing is all about them returning home to their families at the end of the day.”
Terry Carroll said he thinks it is important to hire deputies from in the county, because they know their way around and know most of the people in the county. He also said it might be hard to give incentives because of the county’s budget restraints, but the department would have to do the best they can until the budget is lined out.
Kevin Chaney said he would interview candidates for the job, and that being a deputy is not a job to “collect pay and just go home.” He also would look for grants to help pay his deputies, and he would hire people who are willing to serve the people.
Ken White said he’d hire people who want to work and are going to apply commons sense in their duties, that he’d let them know that he appreciates them, and the sheriff’s department would have to work with the county judge to try to get them raises.
Teddy Hunt said recruitment would not be an issue, because he thinks there are several people who would love to work for the sheriff’s department, but that retention would be the problem. He would try to find ways to fund the department better, such as obtaining grants, and he hopes the county would get out of financial trouble soon.
4) How would you handle someone’s request to do personal favors?
Terry Carroll: “It would be unethical. If you did it once, they’d be expecting it twice, so you can’t be doing that stuff.”
Kevin Chaney said that if a person asks for a personal favor to get out of trouble, “we’re not there for that,” but if someone were hungry or in need of some basic necessities he’d definitely try to do them a favor. “We’re not just here to bang heads and throw them in jail.”
Ken White said, “Everyone during my tenure will be treated the same, No one will ever receive special treatment.”
Teddy Hunt, “Can’t pull favors for anyone, you do your job by the letter of the law…that’s all you can do.”
Chris Flynn said as a matter of professional pride and integrity, there would be no special favors…not even to family. “If you break the law you have to pay the price.”
5) Which of the sheriff’s duties is most important? Tax collection, election duties, service to the courts or law enforcement?
Kevin Chaney said law enforcement would probably be one of the top duties. “Tax collection is needed…the others are necessary, but if we can’t enforce the law, if we can’t protect our people, what else counts?”
Ken White said they are all important, but law enforcement is most important to “protect and serve the citizens and children.”
Teddy Hunt said the most important is law enforcement.
Chris Flynn agreed that law enforcement is most important and said that the sheriff’s office needs to be more proactive, that there needs to be more community policing, that officers should be in the parks to be better role models and leadership examples…and they should not just sit back and be reactive.
Terry Carroll said you can’t pull off the side of the road without seeing needles and drug paraphernalia, and it’s destroying our kids and our county. “Yes, law enforcement is the most important,” he said.
6) What kind of law enforcement training have you received to date?
Ken White: I’ve had over 25 years law enforcement experience, graduated the police academy, and still receive extensive training every year…you also learn on the street, that every problem cannot be solved the same way.”
Teddy Hunt had basic training at EKU, four years experience in Ravenna, three of which were as police chief there.
Chris Flynn said, “None.” But he spoke of receiving a call from a state trooper, also a former marine, who told him that what he learned in the Marine Corp prepared him better than any training he had ever received. Flynn served eight years as a Marine.
Terry Carroll said he had “a little less than four years of on the job training…you don’t have to be certified in the state of Kentucky to be a sheriff.”
Kevin Chaney received four years of on the job training when he was a deputy, and he completed the academy training for bailiff. He also said he was employed by the honorable Ms. Heather Combs, when she was County Attorney. Chaney emphasized that the sheriff is “here to serve, and has to have the heart to see the need.”
7) How do you plan to help combat the overwhelming drug problem in the community?
Teddy Hunt said he will reach out to other agencies throughout the community and state, but it all falls back to funding. He said that he will be active out in the community and out being seen.
Chris Flynn said training is a big over-lapse, that constables need to be trained, so that they could set up community citizens’ watches, because he thinks communities need more eyes and ears. He also said it will take lots of work and some time to overcome the problem.
Terry Carroll said that he will work with the community to identify from where and whom the drug problem is coming. He said if a judge assigns someone to rehab for 90 days, and they go in for two or three days and decide they don’t want to be there any more, their sentence shouldn’t be probated, that they should finish their sentence out.
Kevin Chaney said that criminals are pretty well intelligent and they understand risk vs. reward. “If there’s little risk, but great reward, there is little to deter,” he said. He also said he met with the clerk [at the courthouse] who said information could be provided to him from records to help find out where lots of drug activity is happening.
Ken White said he would assign a drug enforcement deputy to investigate all the drug tips. He also said he’d like to set up a tip line and a website for information for people who don’t want to be seen talking to the police. “Hopefully with being anonymous, they’ll give us more information.”
8) Why did you decide to file for the office of sheriff?
Chris Flynn joked that he was born in the sheriff’s office, because his father took office not long after he was born. “I’ve always had a calling to serve people,” he said, adding that he considered running right out of high school, but he decided to go to the Marines instead. Flynn said he wants to put his military training to good use to benefit the citizens of Estill County.
Terry Carroll also said it’s a lifelong dream, something he wanted to do as a child, and is also a calling for him to try to make a difference in the community. “[It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do in my life as well.”
Kevin Chaney said law enforcement “has always been a passion of mine.” In his early 20s, he wanted to be a state police trooper, but he felt the time wasn’t right. “I’ve always felt a strong desire to be sheriff here…I’m not wanting to better myself..but to better my community.”
Ken White said that law enforcement “has always been in my blood,” and he likes to take care of people. “I actually care about people, and I want to help them,” he said. He also said he has two grandchildren growing up in the community, and he wants to make sure they and others are safe and able to enjoy life.
Teddy Hunt said he and his wife talked over the possibility of him running for sheriff ten years ago, but they decided to wait because their kids were all in school, and he realized that the job would probably require him to work 60 hours a day.
Russell “Doc” Morris is also a candidate for sheriff, but he was not present at the forum, having just lost a son, Russell Morris III, last weekend. Morris will be given the opportunity to participate in a later forum.
Angela Oldfield Osbourne was the moderator of Thursday night’s forum, and Susan Hawkins was the timekeeper. There will be no forum this week, but the next forum will feature those seeking the offices of county court clerk and circuit court clerk. It will take place on April 12 at 6 p.m. at the high school auditorium.