By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
The fourth candidate forum presented by the Estill County Library, the Estill Action Group, 104.9 Pickup Country, and the Estill County Board of Education was held on Monday night at the high school auditorium.
The first candidate to be introduced was 6th Congressional district incumbent Andy Barr. His opponent, Democratic candidate Amy McGrath, had a prior engagement and did not attend the forum.
“We are getting results,” said Barr in his introductory remarks. He listed several local projects for which he takes partial credit for securing funds, including an ARC grant for the hospital, a Brownfield grant for clean-up at the Mack theater, and several others.
Barr was asked some tough questions about how the tax cuts benefitting the “wealthy and ultra rich” would affect Social Security. Barr said “the premise of the question” was wrong, and that the tax cuts benefit everyone, including the middle class. He said that because more people are working, the solvency of programs such as Social Security is increasing.
Candidates for State Representative in the 91st district, Cluster Howard and incumbent Toby Herald, were also on hand to present their best ideas for office. This is the third time the two have run against each other. Herald held the office in 2013-14 but was upset by Howard in a close race in 2014. Herald ran against him again and reclaimed the seat in 2016.
Howard spoke of the need to work together and to promote “an American agenda” instead of a party agenda. He pledged to “walk across the aisle” to get things done.
Some issues Howard wants to focus on is better funding of education, providing economic and social opportunity for young folks so they will not move away, and the opioid crisis.
Herald spoke of the “great things” being done under the present administration such as the increase in jobs and said, “It is like a light has been turned on.”
He credited the past administration for closing the Lee Adjustment Center which is now back open, as he said, “We don’t want to go back.”
Deborah Hembree Lambert, candidate for the Kentucky Supreme Court Justice for the 3rd district, introduced herself and expressed her appreciation for the large number of votes she received in the primary election.
Lambert currently serves as one of fourteen state Court of Appeals Judges. A graduate of the University of Kentucky’s School of Law, she has served as an assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney and City Attorney for Mount Vernon. She was also elected as circuit court judge in the family division in Pulaski, Lincoln and Rockcastle Counties, where she developed the first drug court in that region.
Her opponent is Dan Ballou, and he did not attend the forum.
The final two candidates to take the stage were those for County Attorney, Jason Riley and incumbent Rodney Davis.
Riley introduced himself as a graduate of Estill County High, EKU, and Indiana University-Bloomington’s School of Law. He said he has practiced law for 14 years, four and a half of those as an assistant county attorney in Fayette County where he worked on a wide variety of cases including child support, criminal prosecutions, appeals. He also helped implement an e-warrant system there that is now widely used.
Rodney Davis introduced himself as the candidate with 14 years of experience as county attorney, and two as assistant county attorney in Jackson County. He spoke of the “seismic shift” about to occur in Estill County politics, as a new county clerk, a new sheriff, a new judge executive and three new magistrates will take office in January. He said they will need an experienced county attorney to advise them.
He also stated that he believes he has the experience needed as the county continues in litigation against the landfill and in the multi-district opioid case.
The last of the political candidate forums will take place on October 25th at 6 p.m at the Estill County High School auditorium. It will feature candidates for magistrate and the county judge executive.