LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
A dozen candidates answered questions about the state of the state and the state of Laurel County on Thursday night.
The political forum, sponsored by the London-Laurel County Chamber of Commerce, featured political hopefuls for the May 20 primary election in a question-and-answer format featuring local candidates for magistrate, state representative, county judge executive, family court judge, and jailer.
Due to the large number of candidates in this year’s race, the questions were restricted to Republican candidates for County Judge Executive (David Westerfield and Jerry Hollon), magistrates from all six districts, County Jailer (Jamie Mosley and Darryl Bolton), Family Court Judge (Durenda Lawson, Marilyn Benge McGhee, and Steve Jones) and state representatives from all five districts which represent Laurel County in Frankfort. Non-partisan races such as city council, mayor, and Democratic opponent Lawrence Kuhl in the county judge race will be featured in a forum held prior to the November election.
Laurel County Judge-Executive David Westerfield praised the addition of new companies in the county’s growth over the past several years, with 2013 being a banner year for Laurel County and ranking it second in the state for business growth last year.
Westerfield’s Republican opponent, Jerry Hollon, was not present, although his Democratic challenger, former Judge Executive Lawrence Kuhl, was.
With a crowd of supporters wearing gray T-shirts with “Re-elect Mosley for Jailer” in the audience, Mosley sent the entire crowd into roars of laughter when he was asked the question, “What differentiates you from your opponent?”
“I showed up,” Mosley answered with dead-pan seriousness.
He then outlined the successes of the Laurel County Jail during his administration, emphasizing the increase in state, federal and out of county inmates as well as increasing the work release program and establishing the first-ever female work release program.
Jailer candidate Darryl Bolton was not present for the forum.
Candidate for state representative in the 82nd district, Estridge Shelton answered the question regarding the split of Laurel County into five separate legislative districts, saying it was unfortunate for the county. Although the 82nd district includes only a small portion of the south Laurel area, Shelton said the division could be “an advantage if all five representatives would work together.”
Incumbent, State Rep. Regina Bunch was not present for the forum.
Marie Rader, Michael Bryant, and Geraldo Serrano, all of whom are vying for the 89th District seat, all spoke about the state budget with Serrano emphasizing the state deficit and its affect upon the future of the children of this region. Bryant, whose wife is an educator, touched on the state’s retirement system and the economic development in the area. Rader relayed how a Republican minority in the House of Representatives has forced current representatives to work together with Senate representatives of this area to achieve goals beneficial to southeastern Kentucky residents.
Only four of the 10 magisterial candidates in District 1 participated in the forum — incumbent Roy Crawford and challengers Sharon Benge, Mike Samples, and Chris Turner. All outlined their backgrounds and hopes for the fiscal court achievements if elected.
District 2 magistrate incumbent Danny Smith and District 5 magisterial hopeful Jerry Sizemore were the sole attendees from the remaining magistrate races. Smith touched on the continuing need for jobs and operating on a budget while Sizemore advocated more positive activities for the youth in the county.
Family Court Judge candidates Lawson, McGhee and Jones were all present for the “Meet and Greet” but Jones left before the question session began. That left McGhee and incumbent Lawson to discuss the duties presiding over Family Court.
McGhee said the family court docket is “backlogged” and that prolonged decisions not only adversely affect the families involved, they also pose a financial strain on those families when cases are continued numerous times.
Lawson said she considers her own child when making decisions from the bench. She denied backlogs of cases, stating that all cases are dealt with on an individual basis.
The London-Laurel County Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event at Jackson Energy on Ky. 229 to inform the public on the issues affecting voters and citizens in the area.