Just over a month after he was appointed as the new commonwealth’s attorney for Knox and Laurel counties, local Republicans selected Jackie Steele to be the party’s candidate in the November election.

Steele, who has been an assistant commonwealth’s attorney under Danny Evans for five years, was appointed by Governor Steve Bashear to succeed Evans who retired May 31.

Steele is a 1993 graduate of South Laurel High School. He received his law degree from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University in 2001. After graduating law school, Steele practiced civil law with Weatherly Law Office in London before joining the staff at the commonwealth’s attorney’s office.

In his time with the commonwealth’s attorney, Steele has been primarily responsible for prosecuting violent crimes case such as murder and rape.

“He will make a find commonwealth’s attorney,” Evans said of Steele when the appointment was announced. “He is smart and experienced.”

Because the vacancy occurred after the primary election, each party may select a candidate to run in the November general election to determine who will fill the remainder of the six-year term. Laurel County Clerk Dean Johnson said the commonwealth’s attorney race is scheduled to be on the ballot again in 2012.

Brian Mills, Laurel County Republican Party Chair, said because the office in question crosses county lines, executive committee members from the Laurel and Knox County Republican parties met to determine who the nominee would be. At the meeting, which was held July 12, Mills said the committees voted unanimously for Steele to be the candidate.

Mills credited Bashear for being willing to cross party lines to fill the vacancy.

“Democrat Governor Steve Bashear could have selected any number of local Democrats to fill this appointed for Knox and Laurel, but in the end he went with a good hard working Republican like Jackie Steele and that made our nomination process a lot easier,” Mills said.

As of Friday, Democrats had not selected a candidate to run in the November election. Laurel County Democratic Party Chairman Roy Sizemore said he has asked several people, but no one has expressed an interest in running for the office. The deadline for a candidate to file to appear on the ballot is 4 p.m. Aug. 12.

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