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What’s on the ballot?

Voter turnout is expected to be heavy in Jessamine County for the 2020 general election, not only because of the hotly contested presidential race, but also because of several local races. County Clerk Johnny Collier has said the one that has attracted the most interest is that for the Nicholasville City Commission.

Three of the four incumbent commissioners — Betty Black, Alex Carter and Patty Teater — are seeking re-election to two-year terms. Doug Blackford is not, nor is Mayor Pete Sutherland, who serves a four-year term.

The challengers are J.R. Allen, Andy Williams, Bethany Davis Brown, Michael Garrett and Dexter Knight.

For the Wilmore City Council, all of the candidates are incumbents who are seeking re-election except for one candidate, Brett Gillispie, an Asbury University student who would be the youngest councilman if elected. The incumbents are Andy Bathje, J. Leonard Fitch, David R. Riel, Jim Brumfield, Kim Deyer and Jeff Baier.

There are three candidates for the Jessamine County Board of Education for three districts, but none has any opposition: Robert “Bobby” Welch for District 1, Amy Day for District 2 and Debra L. Hood for District 3.

There are two candidates for Jessamine County Soil and Water Conservation District supervisors: Douglas V. Marshall and Douglas V. Teater.

One of the most closely watched state legislative races in Kentucky is that for the 39th House District, which has never been represented by a Republican since it was reconfigured in the 1990s. However, in recent years, Jessamine County voter registration has trended red, which would be to the advantage of Republican County Chairman Matt Lockett, who is facing a well-funded Democratic candidate, EKU history professor Carolyn Dupont for the 39th District seat. Whoever wins will succeed the former Democratic state representative Russ Meyer, who was recently named the state’s new head of tourism.

In the 55th District race, Republican Kim King’s name is on the ballot, but she has no opposition.

In the 6th District U.S. House race, the incumbent Republican Andy Barr is challenged for re-election by Democrat Josh Hicks, a Lexington lawyer and former police officer, construction worker and U.S. Marine Corps veteran. Frank Hicks is the Libertarian Party candidate.

In the 2nd District, U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, a Republican, is challenged for re-election by three candidates: Democrat Hank Linderman, Libertarian Robert Lee Perry and Populist Lewis Carter.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has represented Kentucky for 35 years, is facing what may be his strongest challenge since 1984 when he unseated a Democratic incumbent. 

Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot, has accumulated a huge war chest as the Democratic candidate. But McConnell has also spent a bundle on advertising. Recent Quinnipiac and Mason-Dixon polls show McGrath trailing by double digits.

In the presidential race, the only serious contenders are President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, the Republicans, and the Democratic challengers, former Vice President Joe Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

Polls show Biden with a narrow lead nationally and in key battleground states, but Trump with a comfortable lead in Kentucky, which has trended Republican in recent years.

In addition to the Republican and Democratic candidates are several third party tickets: Jo Jorgensen and Jeremy “Spike” Cohen of the Libertarian Party, celebrity Kanye West, who is running as an independent (no party) candidate with Michelle Tidball as his running mate, and Brock Pierce and Karla Ballard of the Independence Party.

Besides candidates for office, there are also state and local referendums voters will have the opportunity to decide.

Two are lengthy state constitutional amendment questions. The first is whether to amend the Kentucky Constitution to strengthen victims’ rights as part of a national movement known as Marsy’s Law. The second would lengthen the terms of office of district judges from four to eight years and those of commonwealth’s attorneys from six to eight years. It would also require candidates for district judge to have eight years of experience as licensed lawyers, not two.

The third question is a local initiative. In contrast to the long and complex language of the state constitutional questions, it is simply worded. It asks: “Are you in favor of the sale of alcoholic beverages in Jessamine County?”

The question is perhaps too simply worded. It would not apply to Wilmore, which would have to have its own referendum if it wanted alcohol sales, and Nicholasville is already “wet.” But it would apply to the unincorporated parts of the county that are now dry, which is most of the rural and suburban section of the county other than wineries and golf courses that have special licenses.

On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, the polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be six voting locations: Wilmore and Nicholasville Elementary Schools, East Jessamine Middle School, Faith United and Southland Christian churches and the Jessamine County Public Library.

Registered voters may also vote early at the Jessamine County Clerk’s Office through Monday, and those who applied by Oct. 9 for absentee ballots to vote by mail must return postmarked by Nov. 3 or drop them in the return boxes at the courthouse by Election Day.

About Randy Patrick

Randy Patrick is a reporter for Bluegrass Newsmedia, which includes The Jessamine Journal. He may be reached at 859-759-0015 or by email at randy.patrick@bluegrassnewsmedia.com.

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