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Carroll County voters face some important and difficult choices Tuesday as they head to the polls for the primary election.
The county will see new leadership at the top with the upcoming retirement of Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson. Five Democratic contenders want the county’s top job.
Voters need to select a candidate who can fill Tomlinson’s shoes and provide the strong leadership the county needs. The next judge-executive comes into office with the county financially strong, but facing many challenges.
Among these tough issues is a drug epidemic that appears to only get worse by the day. A recent study prepared by the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics ranks Carroll County below the averages for the Appalachian counties of Eastern Kentucky on education and workforce factors. The report puts this county’s poverty rate at 27.8 percent, higher than the average of the state’s Appalachian counties, which is 27.4 percent.
That report was followed by another released by Kids Count that placed Carroll County at 107 out of the 120 counties in the state on the overall well-being of its children.
The new judge-executive will be working with the county’s three magistrates, who will be selected from the 10 candidates running for the offices, including two incumbents and the first Republican to run for a county office in years.
Over the past couple of months, The News-Democrat has worked to provide coverage of the contenders by working with the Carroll County High School FFA to hold a forum for the judge-executive candidates and covering the contenders’ presentation at the Rotary Club of Carrollton.
The paper also provided coverage of candidates, including the four seeking to be sheriff, from the event sponsored by Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and the Cattlemen’s Association. Last week, each candidate was given the opportunity to provide another glimpse at their qualifications and the issues they believe the county must address.
Voters should have the information they need to make the choices that will determine the path Carroll County will take with its change in leadership.
The decisions you have to make should not be taken lightly.
The next fiscal court comes in with at least $4 million in reserve and another $2 million earmarked in the county’s proposed budget for capital outlay projects, such as the new Jefferson Community and Technical College campus.
This will provide the new judge-executive and fiscal court with a solid foundation to begin their work. It will be up to the leaders voters select Tuesday and in the fall election to tackle the many social issues that must be addressed to strengthen families, reduce poverty, rid the community of drugs, put people to work and bring new business opportunities to the county.
These tasks sound daunting. That’s why Tuesday’s primary is so important.
The future of this community and its families rests in the choices voters make. And voting is anonymous, so no one has to know how you cast your ballot.
You must do your best to find good leadership for the county who will work as hard and be as dedicated to the people of the community as Tomlinson.
Polls open Tuesday at 6 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. Make sure you find a couple of minutes to vote.
Jeff Moore is the publisher of The News-Democrat and The Trimble Banner and resides in Carrollton, Ky.