Times-Tribune Staff Report

They received a few of them Monday night at Union College.

The Times-Tribune hosted the first of its Tri-County Political Forums as the Knox County candidates answered questions on several issues at the Conway Boatman Chapel in Barbourville.

Over 100 people attended the forum, with about 25 individuals wearing “Keep Skip” T-shirts among the crowd to support their candidate in the night’s final event.  Their candidate of choice in the district judge race, incumbent Skip Hammons, was appreciative of the opportunity to speak to those who attended the event.

“It’s a tremendous amount of support that I have received, not just out of Knox County, but (also) out of both counties,” Hammons said after the forum.  “I am just so proud of my family and my friends.”

His opponent in the general election, Brandon Jones, was happy to speak to his opponents’ supporters at the event.

“It’s been interesting being a first-time candidate. I think that it’s something that’s very humbling for both as candidates to see people come out and support who they think will be best in this position,” Jones said.  “Having had an opportunity to go out into the community, I see not only ‘Keep Skip’ signs and shirts, but also ‘Elect Jones’ signs and shirts.”

The event served as a way for Hammons to deliver a message to voters in Knox County. 

“I want to try to make a difference in some way if I can,” Hammons said.  “I am the candidate with 18 years experience practicing law all over this state, practicing law in trial courts all over this state. I’ve practiced extensively in all aspects of district court, as I indicated in my closing remarks, and it’s a job that I take very serious.”

Jones countered with being a candidate for change. 

“Probably one of the biggest things that I take away from all of the different events that I have had an opportunity to attend is the interest that we’re seeing from the voters for change,” Jones said.  “It’s something that, for the first time in a long time, people are very passionate about seeing. 

“Ultimately, you get what you put in, as a candidate and as a voter,” he added.

In addition to the district judge candidates, Knox County sheriff candidates also spoke. Brian Senters and Sherman Lawson, both Democrats running for the office, spoke to those in attendance.

Current Knox Judge-Executive J.M. Hall joined four of his opponents in offering ideas for the next four years’ work from this elected position.  Republicans Joe Woolum and Don “Doc” Gray joined Democratic candidates Ford Collett and Doyle Gibson in offering new ideas for the Judge-Executive position.

The final debate in this three-part series will be Thursday for Whitley County candidates.  Those individuals will be at the Gatliff Chapel on the campus of the University of the Cumberlands at 6 p.m.

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