It was billed as a Meet the Candidates night, but it was a little hard to tell the difference between the candidates and their supporters and those who might have come without their minds made up.
The most obvious supporters were a large contingent of Detention Center employees wearing green T-shirts with candidate for jailer Darwin Dennison's name in white across the front and back.
This brought one of the more obvious barbs of the evening from a candidate for the same job, Tim Moutardier, who, speaking directly to the green-shirts, said:
“I know you've been told that I would come to the jail and fire all of you,” but he said he would be a fool to lose that much expertise and the help the staff could provide to a new jailer.
“And I'd never order any of you to show up at a function like this on your own time if you felt you wanted to support one of my opponents,” he said. “Also, I would never ask you to support my campaign with dollars if you didn't want to.”
He called such tactics “the desperate actions of a desperate person.”
Current Jailer and Chair of the County Republicans Joey Stanton, who imposed a fund-raising fine of $50 on anyone who didn't turn off their cell phone during the meeting, reported the GOP had raised just over $5,000 for candidates in the fall races. He vowed to double that amount by the May Primary.
Stanton blasted the Democrats, zeroing in on Sheriff David Simon's financial management and the loss of a midnight patrolman.
He said he respected Simon as a person, “but he could keep a patrol out there from midnight to 6 a.m. if he wanted to.”
“I can't understand why the people of this county aren't upset about the way this office is being managed, and I think it's all political, all done to benefit the Democrat candidate this fall,” he declared. He urged Republicans to get this message across to the public during the campaign.
The candidates for sheriff were less direct on the subject, speaking to the “return of pride to the Sheriff's Office.”
One candidate, Rick Clemons, proposed a “unity of law enforcement all across the county, a countywide police force that would include city policemen and deputies in the same county agency.”
The two candidates for Circuit Court Clerk -- Incumbent Elois Downs and challenger Mickey Kipper -- spoke specifically to the issue of opening the clerk's office on Saturdays.
Downs said the office currently processes about 25 drivers license renewals on a given weekday. She said the Saturday opening had been tried by her predecessor, State Sen. Carroll Gibson, “and we had an average of about 2 people who showed up for renewals on Saturdays.”
“To keep the office open and pay the staff necessary to have it open would be too expensive and serve too few people to justify to taxpayers,” she said.
But Kipper said the office could be run more efficiently, “and it doesn't matter if it's two people or 25, we need to provide the service. People shouldn't have to lose a day of work to renew a license.”
The gathering mourned the passing of Leitchfield Fire Chief and County Coroner Ronald Hudson.
Stanton announced the appointment of Hudson's son, Joe Brad Hudson, to finish out the coroner's term.
“I've talked to Joe Brad,” Stanton said, “and he has agreed to run for the office in November if that can be done within the rules covering elections.”
Thirteen of the 22 GOP candidates in the six magistrate districts showed up at the meeting, one of them getting the best laugh of the evening.
“I'm a little short woman,” said Michelle Blessitt Smith (District 5), “up here with all these big, burley men, but don't let that fool you.”
“I can do a lot that you wouldn't think I could do, because I've worked hauling tobacco,” she said, “and I cut pigs on my weddin' day!”
She said she would be a thorn in the hind end of the fiscal court “and whoever else I have to hound to get your problems, especially roads, fixed.”
Many of the new magistrate candidates spoke to the problems with roads -- not repaired, too narrow, the uselessness of chip and seal, the absence of weight limits.
Incumbent magistrates spoke to the roads that have been upgraded, claiming more than 40 of them in the past few years, and to their efforts to find the money at the state level to do the work.
Incumbent magistrates also pointed to the proposed skateboard park to be built in Leitchfield, Andy Logsdon (District 5) saying ,000 families wanted that park.”
Logsdon and other candidates noted the need for attention to other county needs -- parks, fire departments -- while not neglecting roads.
Judge-Executive Gary Logsdon, the only candidate for his office that spoke, said his 13 years in the office meant there were a lot of programs in the county that are works in progress.
“I need your support,” he said, “to keep that progress going.”
He pointed to the planned Judicial Complex, the work going on now to get a bridge built to it, more attention to parks, and the “good working relationship now among everyone on the fiscal court.”
He said there were 650 miles of roads in the county, and “we've improved a lot of them, but we have to continue to do that without raising taxes, and that's hard.”
The single Republican candidate for the Court of Appeals, Osi Onyekwuluje (On-ya-kool-oo-jay), a Bowling Green attorney, told the meeting his campaign is being funded “on my own, and I believe we must abide by the Bible and the Constitution.”
The Nigerian native said his hero was St. Paul. He emphasized “shared values of common sense in the judiciary, family values, parental consent for abortion, and an end to taking property for private use.”
Onyekwuluje's presentation was interrupted by the emergency siren atop the Courthouse, but no one would call E-911 to turn it off because of the cell phone fine, so the candidate spoke over the sound that ran its full course.
Onyekwuluje did a sing-along with the crowd on his name, then William Darvis Snodgrass (District 3 magistrate candidate) did the same thing with his own name.
The crowd, which filled the large courtroom, joined in both sing-alongs.