By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer
The Laurel County primary race for judge-executive has two Republican candidate vying for a chance to run against Democrat Lawrence Kuhl in November.
David Westerfield, 56, and Jerry Hollon, 43, are competing in the May 20 primary for a four-year term as judge-executive, a position that has an annual salary of approximately $99,730.
The incumbent candidate is Westerfield, a lifelong resident of Laurel County who is a former UPS Driver and has held office in London City Council for two terms. He also spent two terms as Laurel County’s District 3 Magistrate before he was elected judge-executive in 2010 .
Westerfield graduated from Laurel County High School and raised a family with his wife, Karen Westerfield, and daughter Jessica Westerfield. He is a member of the First Baptist Church of London and said he loves the town he grew up in.
“I want our county to continue to grow and prosper,” Westerfield said. “In 2013 we were number one in Kentucky for job growth. There’s going to be even more jobs in 2014. I’m excited.”
Jobs are Westerfield’s top priority, and Westerfield said he wanted to continue his efforts to secure new jobs in Laurel County. According to Westerfield, over 3,200 new jobs came to Laurel County in the past three years from his efforts to encourage new businesses to locate to the county. Westerfield also said the fiscal court’s purchase of land for a new industrial park will bring even more employment opportunities to the citizens of Laurel County.
“I have lived here all my life,” Westerfield said. “I would love the kids growing up now to have jobs. I want to see everyone here do well.”
Westerfield also said good money management skills is a priority.
“I want to continue to be a good steward of the county’s money,” Westerfield said. “We’ve always had perfect audits.”
Westerfield said a pillar of his campaign is making “sound, honest, and ethical decisions” with Laurel County’s tax money. Westerfield also wants to allot money to areas such as fire departments and other emergency services, the sheriff’s department, and maintaining county roads.
In addition to providing services for the citizens of Laurel County, Westerfield wants to assist local veterans. Westerfield said he has helped secure a satellite office in the Laurel County Courthouse for the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs to help veterans with benefits or other needs.
Westerfield believes the county needs to continue in the direction it is going, and doesn’t see many problems that need to be addressed by the fiscal court.
“I don’t see a lot of major issues right now,” Westerfield said. “We just handle the problems that come along.”
Hollon is Westerfield’s opponent in the primary, and is a fellow Laurel County native. Hollon is a real estate agent at Sallie Davidson Realtors and a graduate of Laurel County High School as well as the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice.
Hollon is the son of Gene and Edna Hollon. He and his wife, Michelle, have two children, Connor and Caylee. He is a member of Kentucky Colonels, the National Association of Realtors, the Kentucky Association of Realtors, and the Cumberland Valley Board of Realtors.
“Laurel County is a special place,” Hollon said. “I live here. I want my children to stay here.”
Hollon ran for Laurel County Sheriff in the past. Though he did not win, he said it does not put a damper on his spirit for the judge-executive race.
For Hollon, the race for judge-executive is all about winning the trust of Laurel County citizens.
“To be effective as Laurel County Judge Executive you must have the trust and confidence of the people,” Hollon said. “My door will always be open to listen to your concerns. I firmly believe that honesty is the best policy, whether it’s good news or bad news.”
Hollon claimed that trust and openness isn’t present in the current Laurel County Fiscal Court, and he believes it is time for change. Hollon wants the spending of the fiscal court to be easier for the public to access, and believes a website outlining the court’s spending would help people understand where their tax dollars go. Hollon also hopes to attain public trust by being more available to the public to address concerns.
Hollon also believes in the importance of jobs. He claims many of the jobs added to the area over the past few years have been “temporary, contract jobs” and believes new, more permanent industry must be sought for people to stay and flourish in the county.
“While I am in thankful for any jobs that we have, these jobs may or may not be here from one year to the next. We need jobs that we can depend on for our future,” Hollon said.
He plans to work with the Laurel County Industrial Authority to achieve this goal.
Hollon also said not enough money flows to emergency services, and it is one of his goals to improve funding for services such as the local fire departments and emergency management.
“Safety is important,” Hollon said. “I have served more than 20 years in emergency services and I understand their needs.”
Hollon believes emergency services should be a priority for the fiscal court, and said he will give them more attention and funding than the current fiscal court.
Hollon is optimistic he can improve the county within the next four years.
“With hard work, it is possible,” he said. Hollon said he would strive to get as much done as possible within the span of a term and set plans in motion to go beyond the next four years.
“We can do it,” he said.
By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer
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