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Second district candidates square off at forum

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By Molly Haines

Alcohol and tourism were the topics that took center stage at Monday’s second-district magistrate forum.
Democratic candidates Doug Perkins, Stuart Bowling and Bobby Gaines, as well as Republican candidate Paul Wilson, each participated in the forum, held at the Owen County Extension Office.
To begin the forum each candidate was given two minutes to tell the audience about themselves.
Members of the audience had the opportunity to anonymously write down questions for the candidates, which served as the talking points of the forum.
On the issue of alcohol, Wilson said he is totally against alcohol in Owen County and doesn’t feel that it would generate enough tax money to help the county.
Perkins said he too was against alcohol, but feels that it will eventually come to Owen County and that citizens should make it a positive thing and not focus on the negative aspects of the issue.
Perkins said if a local-option election were to go on the ballot, that he would not fight it.
Gaines said he was also against alcohol in the county.
“The young people are bad enough with all the drugs,” Gaines said. “We don’t need alcohol to add to it.”
One audience question asked candidates if they had read the Owen 20/20 Vision Plan, a 2007 publication, which highlighted projects that could be done over a 20-year span to improve the way of life in Owen County.
If they had not read the plan, candidates were asked what their own vision for Owen County is.
Bowling said he had read parts of the Vision plan and hoped to see more beautification projects in Owen County’s future.
Wilson, Perkins and Gaines said they had not read the plan.
Perkins said his vision is to keep Owen County a “clean, pretty place to live.”
As part of his vision, Wilson said if elected he would propose a plan for each elected official in the county, excluding the Owen County Sheriff, to give 10 percent of their monthly income to a fund that would benefit special projects to increase activities in the community.
Each candidate agreed that increasing tourism in the county would be vital to its growth.
Perkins said he did not see agri-tourism being a big draw for Owen County due to the decline in tobacco production, but said Elmer Davis Lake, the Elk Creek Winery and Elk Creek Hunt Club are big draws for tourists and should be supported locally.
Bowling said the entire county should be promoted and whatever it takes to bring tourists to the county should be done.
Wilson said he would like to see shows put on at the Owen County Fairgrounds to promote tourism.
Gaines said he doesn’t feel that the Kentucky Speedway, located in Gallatin County, brings very many people to Owen County, but hopes that whatever the county can do to bring people to Owen County is being done.
The next forum to be held will be for the sheriff and circuit judge candidates at 7 p.m., Monday, May 5.
The forum will be held in the Owen County High School auditorium.
Each forum is being sponsored by the Owen County Visioneers.