In Jan. 13 IssueBy John ThompsonTimes Journal Reporter
Local politics runs in the blood of Larry Holt. On Monday, he sat as magistrate for District 5 in the first regularly scheduled meeting of the Russell County Fiscal Court under a new administration.
It's not his first rodeo. In fact, horses are the other interest that runs through his veins, as he has been in the thoroughbred racing horse business all his life.
Holt started training horses in 1968, just out of his teens, after learning a little of the business from his uncle. Now, most mornings at the crack of dawn you can find him down at the local fairgrounds exercising and caring for the horses under his management.
He is married to his self described "best friend" Deanna and they have four children.
He says he was introduced to politics at an early age by a very political family.
The Holts have held many offices in Russell County over the years, including sheriff, coroner and even county judge. "When I was 18, Louie Nunn was elected governor and I went to work for the highway department for four years. That's when I remember wanting to get involved in politics more directly."
His first foray into running for political office was the top spot in county politics, county judge-executive, at 37 years old. Unfortunately for Holt he would be running against a very popular Terrill Flanagan.
He won the primary for the 1985 race, unseating an incumbnet judge. Eventually he would lose by only 197 votes, yet the defeat gave him a sense of confidence with the good showing. For years he would remain active behind the scenes before making another run for a seat.
Holt is interested in getting young people engaged in how they can make a difference through involvement in local politics.
In 1994 he was elected county Chairman of the Russell County Republican Party, a position he seems ready to concede to a younger and upcoming group of party members.
"It's hard for me to relate to a 20 year old. That's where you've got to have the next group of voters coming from,” said Holt. “People like me, you're not going to change them. It's the young people you've got to cultivate the ways. Of course in my position, I'm a conservative and if the party needs to change a little bit then someone younger will probably need to lead it."
Throughout the years, Holt has tried to help behind the scenes in getting people elected, acting as campaign manager in Russell County for a gubernatorial candidate as well as campaigning other times for others, "politics is in my blood," Holt said, "real deep; real deep."
In 1998, Holt thought it was time to once again throw his hat in the ring; this time with a more modest campaign for the seat of Magistrate for District 5. He would win this bid and serve two terms, or eight years, before being displaced by the current sitting judge-executive, Gary Robertson.
Holt was honest about how it felt to get beat. "It was hard, but you got to go into it knowing you can get beat. Of course I make my living winning and losing with horses, as far as that goes." Holt went on to say about the race. "Gary is well known and well liked and he was a formidable opponent. I had numerous people tell me they considered not even voting because they couldn't decide."
Holt would also give credit to the strong representation for District 5 that he felt his defeated Democrat opponent, candidate Lou Ann Gore Flanagan, would have given.
"I told people that regardless of who wins I hope you can say you have a good magistrate, because I have a lot of respect for her." Holt would say.
But after getting beat in 2006 to Robertson, Holt said he knew he would be back again. "When some of my friends asked me why I wanted to get back in that mess, I said, 'well, simple reason. I live here. My family's here; my children and my grandchildren are here, so it's incumbent on me to help as much as I can'." Holt went on, "Do I have all the answers? No, but I have the heart to try and nothing is accomplished if you don't try."
That statement segued for Holt into the financial burdens he fears will face the county in the coming years. "I wish that we were in a better place financially, but our tax base is what it is. We probably don't pay as much taxes as other places do, but the incomes are so much smaller that most people feel like they're taxed above and beyond their means." Holt said.
Holt said he has always had reservations about the new buildings, judicial center, detention center, and health department, going up in Russell County.
"Looking back, I had reservations on all the new building, because, though it's great, and we love progress; how do we pay for it?" Hold said. "Don't get me wrong, the new buildings are an asset, but that's a situation that I'm not so sure that myself or any other individual can tell you how." Holt would conclude. "I hate the word 'taxes'; but they're a necessary evil. The trick is how do you match what is needed with what you can afford?"
A task Holt said they would find out over the years.
He has made many trips to Frankfort in the past to try to secure money for Russell County and he says he's looking forward to doing it in the future. "Nothing moves without money," Holt said. "If you don't have money it grinds to a halt. I learned a long time ago that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and if you're turned down once, that's only one time. You've got to be turned down a dozen times before you give up on it."
Before even being seated Holt said he's been putting together an informal list that he feels need some attention in his district.
"I've been driving around the district and getting some ideas. There are a few creeks that need help to be able to drive across. A lot of these old country roads need some help, and there are still some gravel roads around waiting to be paved or need a lot of work."
Holt said he's looking forward to working with the city of Russell Springs, which is within his district.
"It's very important to me. That's my neighbors." Holt said.
Holt wanted to leave this message to his constituents:
"Anyone in my district or anyone in Russell County that feels like Larry Holt can be of assistance to them or help any way, feel free to call me. I'm a people person and I'm always willing to help if I can, it's just a part of my life." Holt said.