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November 1, 2012

Four days until the election...

Race for Senate seat takes center stage on local front

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — While national attention centers on the Obama - Romney decision, some statewide elections take precedence on the local front.

One of the hottest races is between Republican Albert Robinson and his Democratic opponent, first-time political candidate Amie Hacker. Each is seeking to fill the State Senate seat vacated by Republican Senator Tom Jensen, who is running unopposed for Laurel Circuit Judge.

The strong Republican support for the Senate seat has not seen a strong challenge over the past several decades by the Democratic party, until Hacker entered the scene late last summer. Robinson, although touted by the Republican nominating committee for the seven-county District 21 senatorial seat, has received criticism by both Democrats and Republicans for his past terms at the state level. Hacker is a newcomer to the political scene, and has stated that, if elected, she will work for both Republicans and Democrats and will focus on education and jobs.

Robinson maintains his stand for morality, stating his slogan as “God, gun, country, and family.” His past experience will place him in the Republican majority in Frankfort, he said, and he will work to help the citizens of his district and the state.

The London City Council has seven candidates vying for the six-member council. All of the current council members — Sharon Benge, Judd Weaver, Bobby Joe Parman, Danny Phelps, Nancy Vaughn, and Jason Handy — are seeking re-election, while the seventh candidate, Jim Hays, hopes to unseat one of the incumbents.

In school board races, current vice chair of the Laurel County Board of Education, Lola Reed is being challenged by Jeff Lewis in District 4. Mark Begley dropped out of the race for District 4, but his name remains on the ballot. Former school board member, Albert Binder, is seeking to fill his past seat for District 5 by unseating current representative Charles “Bud” Stuber.

Ed Jones, current school board chairman, is unopposed for the District 2 seat.

The East Bernstadt School Board race pits four opponents for two available seats. Sandra G. Smith and Mequeil Storm are tossing their hats into the ring while current board members, Kenny Woodruff and Robert W. Frost, hope to retain their seats.

Laurel County is currently split into five districts for the state House of Representatives and three seats are currently unopposed. Tommy Turner for the 85th District, Jim Stewart for the 86th, and Marie Rader for the 89th District will continue to hold their seats for another term.

On the national level, long-time U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers is being challenged by Democratic opponent Kenneth E. Stepp.

Stepp is a former lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and is a practicing attorney. He has tossed his hat in several political races in the past. The most recent was for U.S. House of Representatives for District 5 in 2010 and U.S. Senate in 2008. He ran for Commissioner of Education in 1990 and for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986 and 1988. He launched his political bids as precinct committeeman for the Democratic party in 1984 in the state of Florida.

Other races on the ballot for next Tuesday include state-level positions in which the candidates face no opposition. Current Circuit Clerk Roger Schott will retain his position, as will 27th Judicial Circuit Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele. London attorney Tom Jensen will launch a new phase of his career, stepping down as a legislator to the judgeship slot vacated by the retirement of long-time district and circuit court judge John Knox Mills.

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 6. Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 6 p.m.

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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