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Incumbent Owen County Judge-executive Carolyn Keith has announced she will be a candidate in the May Democratic primary for the highest elective office in the county.
Keith was appointed to the office of judge executive Feb. 12, 2009, by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear following the resignation of Billy O’Banion, who quit the office as part of a plea agreement in connection with theft, theft of services and official misconduct charges.
Keith, a native of Owen County, grew up in the New Columbus community.
She attended school in Owen County. She’s a graduate of Georgetown College with degrees in economics and sociology.
After teaching for five years in the Owen County school system, she was employed by Owen Circuit Clerk Thelma Marston as deputy circuit clerk and served 16 years as deputy clerk and became circuit clerk in 1988 and remained in office until 2005, serving three terms.
During this time, Keith served as secretary, second vice president and first vice president of the Kentucky Circuit Clerks Association.
Keith is married to Delbert Keith, who worked in the Owen County school system for over 36 years as a teacher and administrator.
They are both very active in community organizations and their church.
In a statement, Keith said her term as judge-executive has been challenging and rewarding.
“During the last year, Owen County has been faced with many unexpected problems, one of which being finding funding for essential services while trying to rebuild a reserve for emergency situations,” Keith said. “We have been faced with cuts in funding from the state while cost of operating continues to increase. Owen County does not have the varied source of tax base that most counties in our area now have. Our major course of revenue comes from the property owner for financing local government.”
Keith said cutbacks in state and federal revenue forces the county to be careful with its own budget.
“State government is cutting funding to the local level while both the federal and state government is continuing to issue more mandates for local government, which involves additional funds,” Keith said. “These are very difficult and uncertain times and I feel county government must be very prudent and conservative with our expenditures over the next two years.”
Keith said she has been working to bring the county’s administrative code in line with state regulations.
“We are in the process of redoing our administrative code, making sure we have complied with the requirements set by the Kentucky Revised Statutes and the state auditor’s office.” Keith said. “A new bookkeeping system has been put into place and we have increased the segregation of duties within the office to increase security.”
Keith said Owen County is at a critical point in its history.
“I feel Owen County is at a crossroads and we need to be very careful which direction we go. The easy road may not be the best road if we want Owen County to survive 20, 30 plus years from now. This is going to take a commitment and sacrifice on the part of Owen countians. This county has been through many difficult times and we will survive if we will work together and not in a self-serving manner.”
Keith hopes the community will continue to support her as she makes her run at a full term as Owen County Judge-executive.
“We need to move into the 21st century but also keep our rural heritage that attracts many people to our county. Change will come to Owen County regardless of what we want and we must attempt to control that change for the good of all its citizens,” Keith said in her statement. “I ask for your support, help and prayers in leading Owen County and remember to be the change you want to see in Owen County.”