Primary night 2014: Ellis wins judge-executive bid

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Incumbent Hammond to square off against Bess in fall general election for sheriff • Stivers wins big for county clerk

By Molly Haines

The outcome of many of Tuesday’s Owen County Primary Election races were close.
But for current Owen County second-district magistrate Casey Ellis, it was a wide margin of victory for the Democratic nomination in the race for the county’s top-elected position.
Ellis will now face Republican Party nominee Gary W. Minch in November for the office of county judge-executive.
Ellis won Tuesday’s primary and carried all 12 of Owen County’s precincts with nearly 70 percent of the votes.
Owenton Mayor Doug West received over 24 percent and  former Owen County Farm Bureau Manager and Owner Fred Evans received nearly 7 percent of the votes.
Ellis said he was relieved and surprised by the wide margin of victory.
“I expected it to be a close race,” Ellis said. “(West) did a lot for the county back in his day, but I think people are ready for new change. … I just want to thank everyone for their overwhelming support. It was great to get to talk with and see everyone.”
West said he was expecting Ellis to win but couldn’t believe the wide margin in the final results.
“I just couldn’t get over it,” West said. “But I said all along that if I lost it would be because of money and of course (Ellis) had a campaign manager. I just wasn’t expecting it.”
Ellis said money didn’t buy 1,400 votes.
“The people of Owen County are ready for change,” Ellis said. “I think that’s very clear in the way they voted. … I hope no one loses interest. We’ve still got another race to go in November.”
West said he couldn’t say whether he would run for a second term for mayor in the fall.
“I’ll just have to decide that later on,” West said.
In the New Columbus precinct, an end-of-night report problem kept Democratic candidates for sheriff waiting for a final tally, in what became a close race between incumbent Owen County Sheriff Zemer Hammond and Owenton City Policeman Gary Alcorn.
In the highly-contested race, Hammond won the Democratic nomination by 130 votes.
“Whenever you win, you always feel good,” Hammond said. “I’ve been in this county so long I think everybody knows me and I appreciate the citizens of Owen County standing behind me during this election. I’ll be seeing them again this fall.”
Alcorn said he felt that he had done well for a candidate that was not originally from Owen County and that he would get back to work today as a city policeman.
Hammond will face Republican Party primary winner Mark Bess in November.
The Republican nomination would also be close, with Bess receiving only 42 more votes than Owenton City Policeman Steve Miller.
Bess was unavailable for comment by press time Wednesday.
Laurel P. Stivers, who was appointed to the Owen County Clerk’s Office following the retirement of Joan Kincaid in April, will keep her post in the office after receiving over 41 percent of the votes.
Clerk candidate Jane O’Banion Blackwell came in second by 203 votes.
Although Stivers said she felt the race would be close, she’s excited for the opportunity to continue serving in a public office.
“I’m very excited and very honored to have been voted in the office,” Stivers said. “I’m looking forward to serving the people of Owen County.”
In Owen County’s first-district magistrate race between Todd Spurgeon and incumbent Asa Phillips, Spurgeon will now have a seat on the Owen County Fiscal Court after defeating Phillips by only 34 votes.
Spurgeon was unavailable for comment by press time Wednesday.
In Owen County’s second magisterial district, current Owen County Board of Education Chairman and owner of Bowling Insurance Stuart Bowling would defeat former magistrate Bobby Gaines and Doug Perkins by the widest margin in any of the county’s magisterial races.
“As far as the margin and what mine was, I think the years I’ve served on the school board may have played a factor in that,” Bowling said.
Bowling will face Republican Paul E. Wilson in November.
If victorious in the general election, Bowling will have to step down from the board of education in January 2015.
Another close race was held in the fourth district for magistrate. Travis Fitzgerald won by 18 votes over Lucinda B. Wilhoite.
“There were some highly qualified candidates,” Fitzgerald said. “I think the citizens saw that and it decided the vote pretty evenly. … I want to thank everyone for their vote and I will work as hard and as diligently for the people of Owen County as possible.”
Third-district magistrate Teresa Davis was uncontested.
In the race for 15th judicial circuit judge, Leslie R. Knight carried Owen County with a little over 50 percent of the votes. Knight also carried Grant and Carroll counties.
A total of 3,420 voters turned out for Tuesday’s primary election.
Former Owen County Clerk Joan Kincaid, who was at the clerk’s office to assist Tuesday, said few problems were reported throughout the day.
With changes due to redistricting, Kincaid said she felt there could be some confusion for voters but said the clerk’s office received few phone calls with questions from voters on where to cast their votes.