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Over the next few issues, The Sentinel-Echo will be running candidate profiles for the May 22 primary. Today we look at  the race for County Clerk and Laurel County Sheriff.

Name: Dean Johnson (Incumbent)

County: Laurel

Elected Office Sought: County Clerk

Party Affiliation: Republican

Occupation: County Clerk (for 32 years), Farmer

Residence: Laurel County

Education: High school graduate, 72 hours of college.

Memberships: Masonic Lodge, Shriner’s, Keavy DAV, Kentucky County Clerk’s Association, Calvary Baptist Church.

Family: One daughter, one grand daughter

What do you feel are the top three issues you could face if elected?

“I feel like we have no issues in the Clerk’s office” Johnson said.

Name: Joe “Tony”Brown (Challenger)

County: Laurel

Elected Office Sought: County Clerk

Party Affiliation: Republican

Occupation: Firefighter, Captain City of London Fire Department

Residence: Laurel County

Education: Laurel Co. High School 1988, Sue Bennett, EKU, KCTCS

Memberships: London Fire Department (volunteer & paid total 28 years), London – Laurel Co. Rescue Squad (volunteer 17 years), NRA (Lifetime Member), South Laurel Band Supporters, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Family: Married to Donna Inks Brown 24 years. Daughter Abbey 20, son Phillip 17.

What do you feel are the top three issues you could face if elected?

1. Taxes. There are millions of your dollars that pass through the office every year. I will make sure that all funds are handled in a secure and appropriate manner. That’s why I plan on keeping the current staff employed, contrary to what you may have been told. The staff knows the office better than anyone and only a fool would replace those workers. It’s your money, it will be handled accordingly. That is a Clerk’s duty, each one is sworn under oath to do so.

2. Technology. The world today has made leaps and bounds with technology and I plan to take full advantage of the situation. We live in an age of convenience, we have the world at our fingertips. There is no one out there who enjoys paying taxes, including me. There are so many ways we can enhance the office to where you don’t have to come to the office to do business. There are other County Clerks who have embraced this way of thinking, I will as well.

3. Elections. This is when we are given the chance to voice our opinions on our elected officials. From the White House down, we have been fortunate enough to live in a country that we decide who represents us. If elected Laurel County Clerk, I vow that I will not take sides in elections. The County Clerk should be the most non-political office in the county. I have always stood by the Republican Party, and always will. Being the person who is over elections in the county, the Clerk should remain neutral. I vow to do this. If I am elected and run for the office again, I will not oversee that election. “A county clerk can decide whether to serve on the board of elections during a year as a candidate. A county clerk who decides not to serve must recommend a temporary replacement (KRS 117.035).

“I will not influence any local races,” Brown said.

Name: John Root (Incumbent)

County: Laurel

Elected Office Sought: Sheriff

Party Affiliation: Republican

Occupation: Sheriff of Laurel County

Residence: Laurel County

Education: Laurel County High School Class of 1983, Sue Bennett College, Eastern Kentucky University, Western Kentucky University, Graduate of Department of Criminal Justice Academy, 1986, Graduate of the Kentucky State Police Academy, 1988.

Memberships: Kentucky Sheriff Association, KY Sheriff Association Board of Directors, National Sheriffs Association, Laurel County 911 dispatch center board of directors, 3 time commissioned Kentucky Colonel, National Rife Association.

Family: Wife, Amy; Kandis Root Taylor, Tara Root Schart, Khloe Grace Root (daughters), Hunter Disney (son), four grandchildren (Kaden, Kennedy, Brantley, Mylah).

What do you feel are the top three issues you could face if elected?

1. Drugs. When elected I promised to “Declare war on drugs in Laurel County” on day one and we did. This year I’m running on my record. We are fast approaching 9,000 drug arrests. The record shows that we have worked hard continually for you for seven years and five months and will continue to do so. My staff and I will continue to fight the war on drugs in Laurel County, 24/7/365.

2. Managing your office and tax dollars wisely. In my eighth year as your elected sheriff that has been approximately 213 million dollars that has passed through your Sheriff’s office. To date we have had a total of 16 successful audits with no discrepancies and every penny accounted for. We have added a full time public affairs officer, two chaplains, a Special Response Unit Team, a K-9 unit, and more deputies throughout the entire county.

3. Continued emphasis on the protection of life and property. In 2011 I increased man power both on the road and in the investigation division. I added one extra detective for a total of three to investigate the counties thefts and crimes both small and large. I added one extra street level drug detective, and one D.E.A. detective for a total of seven detectives to investigate and fight the war on drugs. I started the deputies school walk through program in every school in 2011.

“When re-elected I promise to continue and enhance each of the above named programs,” Root said.

Name: Millard Root (Challenger)

County: Laurel

Elected Office Sought: Sheriff

Party Affiliation: Republican

Occupation: Retired from the Kentucky State Police.

Residence: Laurel County

Education: Graduate, Laurel County High School.

Memberships: n/a

Family: Heather (wife), Jessica, Jadalyn, Jasmine (daughters)

What do you feel are the top three issues you could face if elected?

1. Drugs. I plan to have good working relations and communication between all the law enforcement agencies. Sharing of information and joint investigations will result in the public getting better served. Aggressive investigation of thefts and burglaries associated with people stealing to buy drugs will be conducted. Officers in our schools to be a positive drug free influence on our children is yet another angle to combat illegal drugs.

2. School resource officers. I want trained armed officers in our schools. Not only will this increase safety and security but other benefits as well. An officer that interacts well with children fights the negative image of policemen in our nation. The officer may be the positive influence that may change a child’s life.

2. Community policing. Officers that visit rural areas, small stores and gathering places. Officers that stop to speak when you’re checking your mail, mowing your lawn, or sitting on your porch.

“It forms positive relations between citizens and officers. The trust between officers and the public helps to prevent and solve crime,” Root said.

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