Who do you vote for in these races? This year that is a very difficult question to answer. First, one must decide what is important to him/her. Is experience the most important factor that you consider? Is integrity more important than experience? What about qualifications or political party? Then there is always the question of the candidate being a conservative, moderate or liberal.
In the race for District Judge you have Jerry Crosby, the incumbent, who has been the District Judge for many years while his opponent, John Shaughnessey, has never been a judge at any level. If experience is the most important factor to the voter, Crosby wins, hands down. However, let me caution voters who simply consider experience. If experience were the only factor considered, the incumbent would almost always win as the incumbent usually has the most experience.
Both candidates for District Judge have stated that they are not allowed to express their political views or how they would vote on hypothetical cases. Thus, it is very difficult to know if the candidate is conservative, moderate or liberal. If you have followed the rulings of Judge Crosby, you may be able to make that determination. However, very few people even know what a District Judge does, much less know how the judge rules.
I have listened to both candidates speak on more than one occasion and the only thing that I am certain of is that Judge Crosby has the most experience. Naturally he has made a point of making sure that the people are aware of his experience. On the other hand, Shaughnessey has served in the military and belonged to several patriotic organizations. Therefore, he champions himself as a patriot. However, he has never inferred that Crosby is not loyal to his country. The voters have a tough decision to make and very little information on which to base the decision.
In the race for County Attorney we have a different situation. We have one candidate, John Carter, who seems to have the most experience since he was a District Judge for about ten years. Many people would believe that as a result of having been a District Judge the experience gained from that position would make him the most qualified. That is not necessarily true. Certainly that experience helps him. However, in that position he only made decisions on cases that came before him. There is a lot that happens to a case before it reaches the District Judge. As a matter of fact many cases never reach the District Judge. The County Attorney can decide to not take the case to trial or an agreement between the aggrieved parties can be reached without going to court. In one his speeches District Judge Crosby made the statement that the County Attorney had more responsibility for enforcement of the law than the District Judge. Thus while experience as a District Judge is important it is not to be confused with experience as a County Attorney. It is also important to mention that the County Attorney has one major function that does not involve going to District or Circuit Court and that is the responsibility for advising the Fiscal Court.
The only candidate who has any experience as a County Attorney is Stuart Ulferts. He was an Assistant County Attorney for a period of four years. Additionally, he has been employed as an attorney for the Planning and Development Commission for almost four years. Thus, Ulferts is the only candidate who has actually made the decisions that a County Attorney is required to make.
The third candidate, Galen Clark, is the only person who has run for the position of County Attorney and he has done that twice. He narrowly lost to long time incumbent, John Fendley, in the 2010 Republican primary race and he also lost the same race in 2006. Although he did not win either race the public has had opportunities to learn a great deal about him and many have already voiced their approval for him. However, Clark is running as a “write-in” candidate and it is very difficult to win as a “write-in” candidate. Moreover, he did not enter the race until very late in the election cycle. He would have been well advised to have entered the race the day after the executive committee of the Oldham county Republican party shunned him when picking a replacement for the late John Fendley on the Republican ticket.
To my knowledge, Clark is the only candidate that has experience practicing law in a state other than Kentucky. While some people have criticized Clark for having practiced in Indiana I find that to be a plus for him. That is experience that the other candidates do not have.
The race for County Attorney has been the most negative race that I have seen in Oldham County for many years. Allegations have been made against John Carter that his judgment should be questioned because of an incident in which he fired shots into a neighbor’s house after having consumed alcohol. However, the neighbor did not file a complaint against Carter and he was not charged with any violations.
Then there have been the people who have said that Galen Clark does not have any experience in Oldham County; that his experience comes from Jefferson County and Indiana. First, that is not true, Clark has had cases in Oldham courts. If it were true, it is simply ludicrous as the law in Jefferson County is much the same as the law in Oldham County. Both counties come under the umbrella of the Kentucky Constitution as well as the Kentucky Revised Statutes. That is simply someone grasping for straws.
Finally, there are those people, mostly John Carter supporters, who want to pick at Stuart Ulferts’ selection for his spouse. Frankly, I don’t care who he selected for a spouse nor do I care who anyone else chooses for his/her spouse. I do not believe that anyone would want people to berate them for their choice of a spouse. That is really throwing dirt. I know many spouses of politicians whom I could rip apart. I won’t go there.
For certain there are some sour grapes in this election. Those sour grapes are certain to remain until the 2014 elections. However, people must make a selection on Tuesday. For the sake of Oldham County I hope they make the right choice.
As you have noticed, I have not endorsed any of these candidates. Frankly, the variables are such in these races that I do not believe that it would be fair for me to advise people to vote for any specific person. It simply depends on what is important to the individual voter.