The Times-Tribune will run candidate profiles for contested races in Whitley County until the Primary Election on May 17. Today features the contested race of jailer on the Republican ticket. Candidates were emailed the same survey asking them to complete and return it to provide voters with more information about themselves and their candidacy.

Andrew Fuson

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 36

Occupation and current employer: Colonel at the Whitley County Detention Center

Education (high school, college, etc.): Bachelors in Emergency Management/Homeland Security from Ashford University

Masters in Science in Justice Administration with a focus in Corrections from the University of the Cumberlands

Masters of Arts in Teaching Secondary education in Social Studies from the University of the Cumberlands

Memberships: Immanuel Baptist Church; I am the Judge Advocate for the Marine Corps League J.C. Paul Detachment 1448 in Williamsburg, Ky.

Family:

I am the grandson of Helen Fuson and the late Kenneth Fuson.

I am the son of Kenney (KY) Fuson.

I am the nephew of Jamie Fuson, Darla Fuson and Adora Vann.

My father and mother-in-law are Jimmy and Connie Haynes.

My wife’s name is Kayla Fuson.

I have five children Olivia Abigale, Lillian Annabelle, Eden Rose, Lucy Grace and Andrew Jacob Fuson Jr.

Have you run for elected office before or held elected office? If so, please describe: I have never run for any elected office before.

What qualifies you to hold this position: I worked at a maximum-security prison for the Federal Bureau of Prisons for 7 years. I’m a combat veteran with 8 years of military service, 3 deployments with 2 tours in Iraq. I have 2 Master's Degrees one being in Justice Administration and I am currently pursuing my PhD in Leadership with a focus in Justice administration from the University of the Cumberlands. I was hired in November to revamp and reorganized the jail as the Colonel. The immense progress I have made in the security and the expansion of work and rehabilitation programs showcases my abilities. The fact is that I have been tested throughout my adult career and have proven my ability to perform at the highest levels of proficiency under highly stressful and dangerous situations where I always adhered to the standards of professionalism and regulations set before me.

What prompted you to run for this office this year: The reason I am seeking the Office of Whitley County Jailer is because I want to serve my community with what I do best, corrections. I want to be on the forefront of the opioid epidemic our community is currently facing to reduce the recidivism rates and bolster rehabilitation while the offenders are incarcerated. Whitley County deserves a Jailer with the specialized experience and education to ensure the jail is a safe, secure and a productive facility. I see the mothers and fathers of the children my kids go to school with and I want to do everything I can to assist them in becoming productive members of society.

Please identify the top three issues you would face if elected and your plan for handling those issues:

1. One top issue is addressing the opioid epidemic in our home. I plan to face it head on through rehabilitation and work programs. I have already begun to work with organizations in our community to battle this devastating issue we all face. I am working with local church groups to obtain religious services and coordinate with individuals who conduct prison ministries. I am working with a company called Intrust Health who began serving as reentry coordinators at the beginning of April for inmates who get released back into society. Intrust Health will build a case plan for each inmate who wishes to participate in the service. They will be assisting offenders with obtaining jobs, rehab, insurance, housing and many other resources. I am heavily focused on education and rehabilitation programs that I have already facilitated since my arrival at the jail and I plan on expanding if elected. To stop drugs in our area we have to fight against the demand for it.

2. Another top issue I see is the costs to the taxpayers. I plan on running as self-sufficient of a facility as possible. The manner in which I will do this is by utilizing commissary funds to pay for inmate needs such as food, clothing, safety etc. Another way in which I plan to relieve costs on taxpayers is the expansion of programs for inmates. The state of Kentucky, through the Department of Corrections, pays the fiscal court money for each graduate of a GED or rehab program. Some programs allot 600 to 1,000 dollars for each graduate in a program. This money in turn can be used for the jail and provide relief for the taxpayers. Also, I plan on reopening the garden that was once ran on the fairgrounds. The garden allowed for inmates to benefit from their efforts but also allows the jail to sell the produce for profit and receive discounts on food received for the inmates when it has been processed and canned. I plan on applying for state grants to pay for new programs and will work hard to ensure there are no added costs to the taxpayer.

3. The final issue in the top three I see as a priority is helping the community. Since I arrived five months ago I have already worked with the Corbin alternative school to reach out to troubled youth, we have helped the Williamsburg library with painting the children’s area with inmate workers, We have started the State highway workers program back up again to clear trees and brush from the roads, I have obtained the aid of Intrust Health to assist offenders with rehab and progress once they’re released and I have trained the correctional officers to hold a standard to diligently work toward defending against drug and contraband introduction. I have been open and will remain open to organizations and businesses that are in need of help that the jail can provide. I want to ensure that our facility provides help to the community while helping offenders restructure their lives.

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Sandra Hoke

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 61

Occupation and current employer: Chief Deputy Jailer currently employed at the Whitley County Detention Center

Education: 1978 graduate of Whitley County High School, 16 years of training through the Department of Corrections

Memberships: I'm a current member of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and recent member of the Fiscal County Budget Committee

Family: I am married to Danny Hoke. I have a son from a previous marriage Jason Grubb and a daughter-in-law Jessica Grubb who live in Ohio. I have an 8-month-old granddaughter Journey Rose Grubb and my mother Rose Ely who is a resident of Whitley County.

Have you run for elected office before or held office: I ran for Jailer in 2014, current Jailer Brian Lawson won that election. In 2014, I came in second place which I was very proud of and extremely grateful for all the support I received from Whitley County residents.

What prompted you to run for office this year: I have been employed at the jail since October of 2005. I've held numerous positions such as receptionist, secretary, bookkeeper and Chief Deputy. I have held the Chief Deputy position over the past 10 years. During my time at the jail, I have developed skills to relate to the inmates while incarcerated. If elected, some of my primary goals as Jailer will entail keeping inmates safe and secure, being there for concerned family members, developing a work program for female inmates and reopening the jail for in-house church. I have many ideas I'd like to implement to make improve jail operations. I feel that my experiences, qualifications and dedication make me the best candidate for this position.

Please identify the top three issues you would face if elected and your plan to handling those issues:

1. Inmate Safety: I will employ staff members that are properly trained and required to follow all policy and procedures to keep inmates safe. Inmates under my care will not be mistreated under any circumstances as there is a proper way to handle combative inmates without using bodily harm. Inmate safety must be a major priority and the foundation of our core values.

2. Medical Care: The detention center currently has a nurse on staff that is on-site 12 hours/day and 7 days/week as well as a Doctor on-site 1 day/week. If elected, I would improve medical training for key staff positions in effort to increase awareness for potential inmate medical concerns. All staff members of the jail should be trained to proactively identify inmates that may be in medical distress. I would also increase the frequency of inmate cell checks to catch potential medical issues quicker.

3. Inmate Programs: Providing opportunities for inmates to improve themselves after release is extremely important to me. Inmates currently have the opportunity to attend GED classes and MRT (Moral Reconation Therapy), both of these programs have been rolled out in the past several years. I will proactively communicate the benefit of these programs to increase participation and actively participate myself. The detention center currently has work release programs for male inmates - I plant to implement a work release program for female inmates. I also plan to implement AA/NA programs for all inmates as each of these programs can help setup inmates for future betterment of themselves. I would also investigate other certifications that inmates may be able to obtain to develop skill trades.

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Jeff Hurst

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 59

Occupation and current employer: Deputy Jailer at Whitley County Detention Center

Education: GED

Memberships: I am a member of Little Cane Creek Church of God where I have been Pastor for around 25 years.

Family: My wife, Sheila, and I have been married for 38 years. We have 4 children: Cody, Jessica and her husband Christian, Jeremy and his wife Briana, and Jarrod. We have 4 grandchildren, Paisley, Lewis, Madison, and Lucy.

Have you run for elected office before or held elected office? If so, please describe: No, I have not.

What qualifies you to hold this position: My 10+ years of experience at the jail have equipped me with the knowledge necessary to see that the facility be run in smooth and safe manner. The extensive hands-on experience I have obtained will see me through any obstacle set before me. I have created a relationship with the inmates through love and respect and will see to their and the employee’s safety.

What prompted you to run for this office this year: As cliché as It sounds, I want to make a difference in the lives of those incarcerated. Since we are a correctional facility, I want to see correction through. In a safe and effective way.

Please identify the top three issues you would face if elected and your plan for handling those issues:

1. Cut food costs by starting the Garden Program back.

2. Starting programs inside jail walls for inmates to obtain knowledge about living on the outside. Some inmates, once released, do not have a way to their classes. If we offered it to them while in the jail, they would be able to attend.

3. Saving money by allowing inmates to keep their own white clothing and not allow them to spend money on things they already have. This in return would save money for the facility as a whole.

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Matt Leach

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 35

Occupation and current employer: Whitley South Head Football Coach

Education: Whitley County High School

Family: Stephanie Leach is my wife. Our four children were all raised here in our home in Whitley County that we will always call home.

Have you run for elected office before: No

What qualifies you to hold this position: I began serving my community working in corrections in 2015 with Whitley, Laurel, and the Campbell County Sheriff's Office. I feel that I'm very qualified and ready to make a change for the great citizens of our community very soon. The jailer position isn't just a job for me. It's a passion that comes straight from the heart. My number one goal is to be the best jailer that Whitley County has ever had. If given this opportunity of a lifetime, I will show and prove myself to the community during my four years in office.

What prompted you to run for this office this year: Working in corrections is my career. Leadership starts from the top. Dealing with incarcerated individuals begins with passion that comes straight from the heart, uplifting inmates has always brought up the question of running for jailer, after making substantial positive impacts in their lives. I will continue to strive daily and work diligently non-stop, continuously for our inmates and their families and our community they come first. Together We All Can Make Great Differences.

Please identify the top three issues you would face if elected and your plan for handling those issues:

My biggest concern is the yearly budget to operate the detention center! Being able to house federal inmates, in my belief, will save approximately $2.7 million a year, which is a huge burden taken off of the taxpayers and the fiscal court. I want the detention center to be in the correct formality. If the overhead cost is more than the budget, we need to go in a different direction.

My second concern is the medical department the detention center has versus what it needs. We need to have 24-hour medical treatment for the health of the inmates and the clarity of those inmates' families. We also need more sufficient community treatment programs. It has been proven to save up to $250,000 a year with other surrounding counties. Being able to save this amount of money will be a key factor in getting the detention center a 24-hour medical department.

My third concern - what I feel that can be done to prevent contraband from making its way inside our facility is that we need to implement a body scanner on both the work detail side and the intake side. Being able to work diligently by inviting all law enforcement agencies to offer K-9 training frequently will tremendously help combat contraband.

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Brandon D. White

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 45

Occupation: Lieutenant Williamsburg Police Department

Education: Corbin High School, Eastern Kentucky University (Police Administration)

Memberships: Fraternal Order of Police, International Association of Chiefs of Police

Family: Kayla White of Williamsburg. Two Children, Bobby Ball, Blake White

Have you ever run for elected office before: No

What qualifies you to hold this position: I was raised in Corbin and co-owned White’s Pro Billiards for 12 years with my parents, Glenna and Bill White. My family and I live in Williamsburg, where I’m co-owner and an instructor at Rising Sun Jujitsu Academy and serve as a police lieutenant.

I graduated from Corbin High School in 1995 and majored in Police Administration at EKU. After college, I served as a Knox County Deputy Jailer and an EMT in Whitley and Knox counties. My EMT certification is still active. In 1998, I joined the Corbin Police Department. Since 2009, I have worked for the Williamsburg Police Department.

During my 23-year law enforcement career, I have pursued every opportunity to learn and improve as a leader. Since 2002, I’ve been a Field Training Officer certified to train new police officers. In 2015, I completed the Academy of Police Supervision. In 2013, I earned a national Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) certification. Since 2018, I’ve served as a DRE instructor, training officers nationwide. I received the Governor’s Award for DUI Enforcement 9 times, the Governor’s Award for Occupant Enforcement Protection 3 times, the Chief’s Award (2011), Police Officer of the Year (2012) and Kentucky DRE/ARIDE Instructor Award (2019).

As your jailer, I will continue seeking opportunities to learn new skills and will help employees pursue additional education and training.

What prompted you to run for office this year: I decided to run for jailer two years ago, after receiving complaints alleging serious misconduct at the jail. I’m sickened by what I’ve heard and learned. With 23 years experience in law enforcement, medical training, and 15 years of business ownership, I’m confident I will lead our detention center to become a professional and financially responsible jail, where integrity matters and inmates are treated fairly and humanely.

Please identify the top three issues you would face if elected and your plan for handling those issues:

The safety and well-being of inmates, fiscal responsibility and transparency, and leadership/partnerships are three key areas that are crucial to a well-managed jail facility.

1) Share my experience as a certified EMT and DRE to ensure inmates’ safety, medical and overall health needs are met. These are moral and professional obligations, which can also prevent expensive lawsuits. Non-working equipment, like AEDs, and a lack of CPR masks will no longer be an issue. Also, my goal is for employees to exceed the state’s minimum medical training requirements.

2) Apply my business experience to bring financial responsibility and transparency to the jail. Each year, the jail operates on about $3.5 million. This year the fiscal court predicts the jail will need $1.7 from our county budget to cover its deficit. Please note, a fiscally responsible jail should NOT be purchasing a jailer candidate an expensive new SUV. I will aggressively negotiate in good faith with other counties, like McCreary, to house their inmates. That could be a million-dollar contract. What happens at the jail impacts every taxpayer, and it’s important to elect someone with the integrity and business experience to manage employees and such a large budget.

3) Draw upon my personal integrity, faith and leadership experience to restore public trust and improve conditions for inmates and employees. Integrity and professionalism are key to hiring and keeping honorable employees, helping inmates overcome addiction and building partnerships with all levels of law enforcement, medical providers, churches, education providers and employers. I will not hire criminals and people who have recently been arrested. I will not cover-up employee misconduct. Anyone, staff included, caught bringing drugs and contraband into the jail will be prosecuted; PERIOD. As a police supervisor, I investigate use of force incidents. Abuse will not be tolerated. Under my leadership, the jail will not be a vacation. The jail will focus on reducing repeat offenders through rehabilitation, and while it will serve its role as punishment for those who break the law, everyone will be treated humanely.

Corrections involve deterring people from committing crimes, punishing those who do and helping inmates ‘correct’ issues that may cause them to reoffend after release. To save lives and tax dollars, we must end the cycle of offenders not learning their lessons and falling back under the control of addiction.

Keeping contraband out of the jail begins with quality employees. I will share with all employees my training and leadership experience. To offset the current low pay, I will help all employees obtain additional education/training. Pay is a County Government issue, but as jailer I will cut wasteful spending and reinvest in hiring and keeping professional and honest employees.

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Jason Wilson

Party affiliation: Republican

Age: 50

Occupation and current employer: I am the Whitley County Police Chief and the E-911 Communications Center Director.

Education (high school, college, etc.): I graduated from Whitley County High School in 1989. I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Police Administration from Eastern Kentucky University. I graduated from the Department of Criminal Justice Training in 1998 to become a certified police officer.

Memberships: I am a member of Frankfort Baptist Church.

Family: I have been married to Gina Wilson for almost 22 years. She has worked for the Whitley County School District for over 24 years. She is currently the assistant principal at Oak Grove Elementary. We have two beautiful daughters, Jacey and Jada Wilson.

Have you run for elected office before or held elected office? If so, please describe: No.

What qualifies you to hold this position:

I believe my 23 years of experience, education, moral values, and work ethic qualifies me for this position.

I am a dedicated husband to my wife, Gina and a loving father to my daughters, Jacey and Jada. I have strong conservative Christian values.

I graduated from Whitley County High School in 1989. I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Police Administration from EKU. I then graduated from the Department of Criminal Justice Training in 1998 to become a certified police officer.

My criminal justice career began as a police officer/deputy sheriff working the road until 2007. I then worked for the Kentucky Department of Corrections as a probation/parole officer. I have been the chief of the Whitley County Police Department and the director of the 911 Communications Center since 2014. I directly supervise about 18 staff members. I have also been a local business owner for the last 20 years.

As a probation/parole officer, I supervised a caseload of about 100 probationers/parolees. I ensured they completed requirements set forth by the parole board or court which included sending them for evaluations. I also ensured that they attended any counseling/treatment recommended by the evaluators. I was a member of the drug court team in Whitley and McCreary Counties. My job as a probation/parole officer was to ensure the safety of the public and to maximize the potential to help these people become productive citizens.

What prompted you to run for this office this year:

I am running for Whitley County Jailer because I believe I can make a positive difference for the inmates we house, the staff, and visitors of the jail. I believe our goal as a community should be to positively impact the lives of all we come in contact with. I am dedicated to protecting the community, while helping inmates to return as productive citizens of our county.

Please identify the top three issues you would face if elected and your plan for handling those issues:

1. Care and Treatment of Staff Members and Inmates – If elected, I will treat staff members and inmates with dignity and respect. We can and will run a safe and secure facility while maintaining a positive influence on inmates. We will provide decent food for the inmates. I will make sure inmates receive adequate medical care and treatment when needed, all the while ensuring that our community is safe, and inmates are secure.

2. Minimizing Drugs and Contraband Entering the Facility – It is necessary to eliminate/minimize illegal substances and contraband that are entering the jail. The families of inmates need to be confident that their loved ones will not have access to drugs while incarcerated. We will work with local law enforcement, as a team, to continuously fight the risk of drugs and contraband entering the jail. We will utilize canines to detect and locate drugs in and around the facility randomly and frequently. As jailer I plan to purchase a drug detection dog team that will be used to patrol the facility inside and out whenever needed.

3. Accountability to the Taxpayers/Public – We will do everything possible to maximize the revenue of the jail. We will expand the re-entry programs offered by the Kentucky Department of Corrections. The state pays the jail to offer these programs to the inmates. In a further effort to save the taxpayers money, we will expand the work release programs. I will make myself and other staff members available to the public to voice concerns. We will answer the phones. I will be an on the job, working jailer you can talk to. We will be held accountable to you, the public.

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