In May 1 IssueRussell County News
Candidates gathered at the Auditorium/Natatorium Wednesday for a forum presented to students by students at Russell County High School.
Present at the Y-Club event were the three candidates for county judge as well as most of the other candidates for county-wide office.
Leading off was county judge candidate Ralph Creech, who told the students that it was while he was a high school member of the FFA that he first realized he wanted to serve as a public official.
He said he learned a lot from the county judge as a student when visiting that office for a proclamation for FFA.
Creech told the students that his business experience, from owning Laker One Stop and Wendy’s, has prepared him to manage county business efficiently.
He also encouraged them to set their goals high, and to expect the same of those they elect to county office.
Next up was county judge candidate Gary Robertson who outlined how his years of experience working for the state and as a businessman-farmer has prepared him well to hold the office.
Robertson, who is presently serving as district 5 magistrate, said one of his plans if elected would be to finish the job of providing sewer service to all of the county, and to work closely with Frankfort and the local economic development board to bring more jobs to the county.
Mickey Garner, the incumbent, was the last to address the students about the county judge’s race.
He said in his 17 years of service as a magistrate and his term as judge he has “always treated everybody the sameó Always tried to help everybody.”
He said he has a good working relationship with the mayors of both cities and hopes to continue it.
Garner touted the county’s recycling program, “I’ve very much into that.” He said it is one of the best county programs in the state.
The students were given the chance to ask the candidates about their issues and the judge candidates were asked about “box stores.”
Creech said he was uncomfortable with the pressure a super-store puts on local business, but with a Kmart in the county and two Walmarts in adjoining counties the damage was already done and bringing another to the county would likely improve the job situation.
Robertson said the feed and supply business he is in already competes with box-stores and he welcomed the competition.
Garner said the large corporate stores negatively impacted the small business but with the economy the way it is accepting them is the only option.
Next up were two of the candidates for Property Valuation Administrator, while the third submitted a prepared statement.
Kim Byron was the first to present. She explained the position to the students, and said her real estate experience would be a great benefit to her in the office.
Anthony Carnes, was next and further explained the job of PVA, comparing the appeals process to moving up the chain of command with a complaint at school. He said if elected he would put his real estate license in escrow to prevent any possible conflict of interest.
In a prepared statement Tim Popplewell said he would run a fair honest and user friendly office and promote putting all information possible on the Internet to allow property owners easier access to the information.
Kevin Shearer was the only County Attorney candidate to make an appearance.
He received a big round of applause as he came to the podium and told the students that if elected he would be available for the fiscal court and all the county boards to answer questions.
He said he would be available to anyone and everyone and would focus on providing special attention to juvenile issues in the county.
Shearer said he has previously served as assistant county attorney and while a lawyer in Jeff Hoover’s office he has continued his support of local groups, and a big “Laker” supporter.
First of the Sheriff candidates was Larry Bennett.
“I’ll always have time for you,” Bennett, the incumbent, told the students. The state-trooper turned sheriff reminded the students to have fun at the upcoming prom, but to be careful so that they are around to cherish the memories they will make.
He stressed his own local ties and his department’s hiring of local individuals in his office, pointing out Clete McAninch and Nick Bertram.
The other candidate, Tim Pierce, also stressed his local ties. He mentioned his work at Fruit of the Loom, and as a city police officer before becoming a deputy.
He said he wanted to add a full time detective’s position to the department and extend the office hours.
Candidates present for the jailer’s position were Bobby Dunbar and Robert Stanton.
Dunbar was first and mentioned that while he was a child his father had served as the jailer for the county, and recently he has worked as a deputy jailer.
Dunbar stressed that he has made mistakes in his life and that learning from them has made him better at helping out those who find themselves behind bars.
He detailed the story of two such people who have, since talking with himself and another deputy, turned their lives around and gotten free of drugs and alcohol.
Stanton told the students that the new jail would require close budgetary controls and his experience in management would be what was needed in the office.
All of the candidates stressed the need for students to go to the polls and vote.
Event organizer Alex Hoover added her encouragement to that of the candidates, reminding them that if they would be 18 before the general election in November they were allowed to vote in the May 18 primary.