Historic primary election scheduled Tuesday
By Jim Turner

Posted on May 19, 2014 7:12 PM

What is already an historic election in Logan County could prove to be even more historic by Tuesday evening. All voters in Logan County and Kentucky who are registered as a member of a political party are eligible to cast their ballots beginning at 6 a.m. May 20.

For the first time in Logan County history, an African American is seeking a countywide office, historian Michael Morrow confirms. Edward W. Hardin, who bills himself as “Captain Ed,” is a candidate for jailer on the Democratic ticket. Hardin already works at the Logan County Jail. If he wins the primary election, that would constitute a second plank of local election history.

Morrow notes that Hardin is a descendent of slaves who were set free about 1820. The biggest election ever won by an African American in Logan County came when former civil rights leader Charles Neblett was elected to represent the Sixth District on Logan Fiscal Court three decades ago. Three African Americans have been elected to Russellville City Council, but Morrow observes that Harvey Smith, Willie Hampton and Marie Sweatt were all born in other counties, as was Neblett. Adairville and Auburn have had minority representation on their councils often, often by homegrown leaders.

Retired state police detective and commonwealth detective Wendell Jackson is Hardin’s opponent in the Democratic primary for jailer.

In the Republican primary for jailer, the candidates are former Logan County coroner and ambulance service director Phil Gregory, who as the GOP nominee lost to Jenkins by a precinct four years ago, and Chris Hightower, who was the Republican nominee for state representative in 2012.

No incumbent is seeking the office of jailer, since long-time jailer Bill Jenkins retired several months ago and interim jailer Jim Ray is not seeking a full term. Winners of tomorrow’s primaries will face off against each other in November’s general election.

A key for Hightower and Gregory will be the size of the Republican turnout in the primary, since it’s the only contested local Republican race. GOP voters could come to the polls because of the U.S. Senate race, in which five-term incumbent and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is being opposed by four other candidates, Matt Bevin, Brad Copas, Chris Payne and Shawna Sterling. Bevin has been the most active candidate of the group besides McConnell.

Several interesting races can be found on the Democratic side.

One of those is coroner where three women with North Logan roots are vying for the position. Incumbent Mary Givens, who has worked at the nursing home in Auburn for many years, is being opposed by Tina Hudson McKinney, who is a nurse at Logan Memorial Hospital, and Cheryl Allen, who is chief of the Russellville Rural Fire Department and director of emergency services at Logan Aluminum. The winner of that race will be guaranteed to be coroner the next four years unless someone files as a write-in candidate and runs a successful general election.

Another multi-term incumbent is also being opposed for reelection as sheriff. Wallace Whittaker, who is completing his third term as sheriff, faces former Adairville Police Chief and deputy sheriff Steve Hadden along with Robert Kimmel of North Logan. No Republican is seeking the office.

The five Democratic members of Logan Fiscal Court are all opposed by candidates who can’t be taken lightly. In District 1, incumbent Russell Poore faces retired law office Len Embry. In District 2, incumbent Jack Crossley is opposed by former magistrate Wayne Stratton, In District 4, incumbent Drexel Johnson has two opponents, Dale Givens and Mike Kirby. In District 6, incumbent Thomas Bouldin will meet Russellville businessman Clay Bilyeu.

Former magistrate Clem ‘Dickie’ Carter awaits the Democratic survivor in District 1 in the fall.

Third District  incumbent Barry Wright faces five other candidates—Bobby Moore, Chris Wilcutt, Gary Sears, Roger Knight and William Sanford.

The lone Republican on fiscal court, Jo Orange of the Fifth District, has no opposition in the GOP Primary, but she will be opposed in November by the lone Democrat candidate, Phillip Joe Bilyeu.

Democrats also have choices as their nominee for U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is the favorite in the senate race; she’s opposed by Burrel  Charles Farnsley, Gregory Brent Leighty and Tom Recktenwald. The two men wanting to oppose long-time Republican congressman Ed Whitfield in the fall are Wesley Seaton Bolin and Charles Kendall Hatchett.

Several incumbents are unopposed both in the primary and the general election. City council, school board and conservation board member elections will be held in November.

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