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By John Whitlock
For the first time since 2003, Damon Thayer is not the state senator representing Owen County.
Late last week, the Kentucky General Assembly passed and Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear signed into a law a new senate district map that reflects changes in the commonwealth’s population.
One of the changes moves Owen County from Thayer’s 17th district and into former Gov. Jullian Carroll’s seventh district which includes Anderson, Franklin, Woodford and parts of Fayette counties.
“This is all related to the changes in population within the district,” Thayer said. “I hate to lose Owen County and I have enjoyed being part of the community but it has to be done,”
Thayer said after the release of the 2010 U.S. Census, it was discovered that too many people were living in his district.
“The district grew tremendously,” Thayer said. “We were 13,000 people over the top end of what would be an ideal state senate district.”
Thayer, who serves as chairman of Senate State and Local Government Committee which oversaw the redistricting plan, called the change ‘bittersweet’ because of his connections with Owen County.
“Honestly, one of the best things that has happened in my career was carrying Owen County with 62 percent of the vote in 2008,” Thayer said.
With the large number of Owen County residents who work in Franklin County as part of state government, Thayer said the shift makes sense.
During his tenure as state senator, Thayer said he helped Owen County with several projects including funding for the natural gas line in Owenton, the widening of U.S. 22 to the high school, the Eagle Creek sewer line and numerous water line projects.
Thayer keeps the shovels used to break ground for the gas line and sewer line on the walls of his senate office,
“Nine years ago, Marcus Carey, Tom and Dot Olds, Wallace Bush and his family welcomed me to Owen County and I have made a lot of friends since then,” Thayer said. “I intend to keep those friends and I want everyone in Owen County to know that as long as I am in the senate, my door will always be open and I will always be here to listen and help any way I can.”
Although he leaves the district in the hands of a Democrat, Thayer said he would work to make Owen County a Republican district.
“Owen County is a conservative place - pro life, pro Second Amendment and the people believe in a government that stays out of other people’s business,” Thayer said. “If a Republican files (to challenge Carroll), I will definitely campaign for them in this district.”
Carroll, who served as governor from 1974 until 1979, is a long-time fixture in the senate and is known as one of the most outspoken lawmakers in the General Assembly. His sometimes fiery passion for issues he believes in is well known across senate chambers.
“Im very excited to have Owen County as part of my district,” Carroll said. “I know a lot of people from Owen County including probably 25 who go to my church.”
Carroll said he plans to attend meetings of the Owen County Fiscal Court and the Owenton City Council as soon possible to meet the public and local officials. He also intends on becoming a subscriber to the News-Herald.
“That’s the best way to get to know the people and issues they face - getting out there and meeting people,” Carroll said. “I have great memories of Owen County when I held statewide office and this lets me get back to my first love which is helping people.”
Carroll, who describes himself as a conservative Democrat, said Owen County joining the seventh district makes sense.
“Franklin, Woodford and Anderson counties are similar to Owen County in the fact that they are mostly rural and facing questions about the future of agriculture. I think it’s a good fit.”
Carroll said he is eager to start representing the people of Owen County.
“We have one of the most active senate districts in the state and I’m sure with Owen County joining, it will be even more active because of the number of people who live in Owen County and work in state government,” Carroll said. “It’s an exciting change.”