Willie Sawyers

The list of candidates for next May’s primary election in Laurel County continues to grow. Undoubtedly, many others will toss their hat into the ring.

But we wonder if they have carefully considered whether or not they have the qualifications to do the job, or whether they know what they are getting themselves into.

Public service used to be a noble pursuit. You could do good things for people and say “yes” all the time. Now, with no money and tight budgets, it’s all about bootstrapping and having to tell people “no.” How noble is that?

We’ve got some words of wisdom for people seeking public office in Laurel County:

Don’t even think about running for jailer if you are afraid to be seen out in public. You’d think that if a person’s office was located inside a dank, smelly facility next to hundreds of criminals that he would like get out and about. But not our current jailer, Jack Sizemore, who’s been MIA for most of his administration.

Of course, we’re not sure he’s actually working down there or who’s running the jail. Sizemore has not shown up at meetings scheduled with the fiscal court to address problems and budget overruns at the jail. He doesn’t show, or he sends subordinates, some of whom have been on overtime. He doesn’t answer questions from the media.

The jail consumes a lot of taxpayer dollars. At the very minimum, we need a jailer who can tell us how that money is being spent, communicates with the public and the fiscal court and works hard every day to make the jail a safe, cost-effective facility. We don’t need one who goes and hides and still collects a big paycheck.

Don’t even think about running for sheriff if you are not prepared to deal with unexpected tragedy. Mild mannered, affable Fred Yaden probably wasn’t expecting such heartaches when he decided to run for office four years ago.

But it wasn’t long into his new term that Yaden found two young boys suffocated in the back of a trunk after a frantic, all-day search. He also had to deal with the unsolved murder of well-known former magistrate Harold Reams. Just recently, he had to address a grand jury probe into the shooting death of a local man by one of his deputies after a pursuit.

Be prepared to age eight years during your first four years in office if you are elected sheriff.

Don’t even think about running for county judge-executive or magistrate if can’t read a financial statement or know a little bit about how taxpayer dollars are spent.

It wasn’t that long ago that the county was mired in a financial mess, which included layoffs and unexpected cutbacks to civic and charitable organizations.

But the alarming thing about the mess was that most of the fiscal court members couldn’t answer why the county didn’t have any money. They were even more surprised when the county was left holding the bag for unpaid bills for an emergency preparedness building.

Lax financial oversight and fiscal irresponsibility is a bad combination for anyone serving on the fiscal court. We need someone who can prepare and adhere to a budget more than we need someone who knows how to clean out a ditchline.

Don’t even think about running for mayor or city council if you are not prepared to make tough decisions for the future of London.

Recent decisions by the city council, including annexation and a smoking ban, have kept the city on a progressive course. More progressive decisions will be needed as the city continues its pattern of growth, which is among the fastest in the state.

There is still nobility left in path of progress.

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