Candidates look ahead to November

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By John Whitlock

With the party primaries over, the field of candidates for the November general election is set.
In the two most high-profile campaigns, Democrat and Owen County Magistrate Casey Ellis will square off against Republican Party candidate for judge-executive Gary  W. Minch for the county’s most powerful post.
With a large field for the office of Owen County sheriff, Democrat and incumbent Zemer Hammond will be opposed by Republican and former Kentucky State Police Trooper Mark Bess.
Looking back at the primary, Ellis said overall his campaign went better than he expected.
“I talked to as many people and visited as many homes as humanly possible,” Ellis said. “I’m thankful that the primary went the way it did and by the amount of support I received.”
As he talked to voters of Owen County along the campaign trail, Ellis found that most people have the same concerns.
“People are ready for change and they want a new direction,” Ellis said.
With the upcoming general election in November, Ellis said he wouldn’t deviate much from the campaign that won him the Democratic Party’s nomination over Doug West and Fred Evans.
“I will continue to work at seeing as many people as possible and visiting as many homes as humanly possible,” Ellis said. “I want to talk to people and discuss what they think the issues are and how they should be addressed.”
Ellis said he would continue to seek grassroots support as the general election campaign comes more into focus.
“I do want to talk more in depth to people and get my platform better set (going into the November election),” Ellis said. “I will be looking forward to the future.”
One of the things Ellis said he would do as a candidate is to speak with incoming and incumbent magistrates to see how the fiscal court can better serve the people of Owen County.
Republican Minch, who was unopposed in the primary, could not be reached by press time.
In the race for the Republican Party nomination for Owen County sheriff, Bess said his focus on the issues and his efforts at communicating with the voters may have been the difference.
“I know the community is very concerned about drugs and so am I,” Bess said. “That’s the number one issue people bring up and I plan on taking that on.”
Bess said that he got to know a lot of people as he campaigned.
“I met a lot of good folks along the way,” Bess said. “They want Owen County to be a better place to live for themselves and their children. I hope that I can help as sheriff.”
Although he didn’t encounter any surprises along the campaign trail, Bess said he is proud of the support he received.
“I have to say, all the candidates ran good campaigns,” Bess said. “It was an honor to run and I hope to win in the fall.”
As he gears up for the November general election, Bess said he is looking forward to the campaign against Hammond.
Facing a man who has served so long creates unique challenges, Bess said.
“There are pluses and minuses to that,” Bess said. “He has a lot of experience but then so do I. I am thankful and humbled for the support I have received.
In the general election, Bess expects to be even more visible.
“I plan on being a lot busier,” Bess said. “I hope to contact every house in the county and see what their concerns are and how I can help.”
Hammond said that he was pleased with the support he received in the crowded primary.
“When you have that many people running against you, it can be tough. Even if there is just another name on the ballot, that is usually good for a few hundred votes,” Hammond said. “I am tickled to death to receive the support and the number of votes I got.”
Hammond said he had been busy with his duties, including sweeping for drugs at local schools with the aid of a drug dog, to campaign as hard as he normally does for an election.
“I just didn’t get out and work as I had in the general election,” Hammond said. “We have been really very busy here and I just didn’t have as much time (to campaign) as I would have liked.
As sheriff for about 16 years and working in the sheriff’s office for nearly 30 years, Hammond said his reputation and dedication to service would be the cornerstones of his fall campaign.
“I know most of the people in the county or they know me,” Hammond said. “I have always tried to be fair to everyone and treat everyone with respect. People know that if we aren’t in the office, the phone will ring at my house and if there isn’t a deputy on duty, I don’t care if it’s 2 in the morning, I will get dressed and go out when we are needed.”