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Owen County voters began making their way to the polls early Tuesday morning for the 2010 primary election.
A close Owen County judge-executive race concluded Carolyn H. Keith, who was appointed as judge-executive in January 2009, would continue her tenure as Owen County’s top elected official.
Keith won the election by 325 votes.
“I’m very humbled and grateful for the support that I have received,” Keith said. “Because actually, I promised nothing. I tried to be very open and honest with everyone. These are difficult times but I think that we can survive.”
Keith said she feels being elected as judge-executive indicates the people of Owen County want change.
“I think people want to move on,” Keith said. “A lot of things have changed and will continue to change. The majority of the people want to see us attempt to improve the conditions of living here and we won’t know unless we try.
“I think the majority also see that if we continue on with our old ways, we’re going to be in big trouble. I’m not saying I can change it but we can make our best efforts.”
Doug West, who challenged Keith for the Democratic nomination for county judge-executive, said a larger voter turnout would have helped him.
“People didn’t seem to have a lot of interest and didn’t get out,” West said. “I think a larger turnout would have helped me.”
West, who previously had served as Owen County judge-executive, wished his former opponent good luck.
“I want to say congratulations to Carolyn on her win,” West said.
The magistrate races brought back two incumbents and two newcomers.
James “Asa” Phillips was elected as district one magistrate.
Owenton City Councilman Robert “Casey” Ellis will step down from the council to take on a new role as second-district magistrate.
Incumbent third-district magistrate Teresa Kemper-Davis and incumbent fourth-district magistrate Ray Smith will both return to their seats on the fiscal court.
Deputy jailer Cindy Bruce-Walker was elected to take on her father’s role as Owen County jailer.
“She’s the second ever elected woman jailer in Owen County,” current jailer David Bruce said.
District one constable will be John Wilson, district two will be Bryan L. Slaughter and district three will be Bob Risch.
Owen County elected incumbent Royce W. Adams as its state representative.
Owen County voters chose Jack Conway as their Democratic candidate for U.S. senator and Rand Paul as their Republican candidate.
Voter Ollie Walters said the main issue that drove him to the polls was the zoning issue.
Linda Evans said she never missed the chance to vote in an election.
“My husband’s a Vietnam veteran, so I go out and vote any chance I get because I think it’s every American’s duty,” Evans said.
Kathryn Gaines, a worker at the Hesler Assembly of God polling place, said things got off to a slow start Tuesday morning.
“We were a little slow getting it up (Tuesday) morning,” Gaines said. “I think it’s gone pretty well considering that all of us working today are new to it.”
Mary Marlow, a clerk working at the Owen County Courthouse polls, said some trouble with a machine had caused a small line of voters to form.
“It started out really slow,” Marlow said. “We had a little trouble with the machines. We never had any more than four or five in line at a time though.”
Owen County Clerk Joan Kincaid said there are 7,172 registered Republican and Democratic voters in Owen County.
With 3,226 votes cast the in primary, Kincaid said a very strong 45 percent turned out.
“I was expecting around 32 percent,” Kincaid said.
In the November 2008 presidential election, about 62 percent of voters cast ballots in Owen County.
Keith said she was disappointed by the voter turnout.
“I’ve been voting in elections since I was 18 years old and I’ve never missed one since,” Keith said. “I truly wish our young people would get interested in politics and know that their vote, even if it is just one, counts.”