Harlan County voters went to the polls Tuesday to decide on the Republican and Democrat candidates for judge-executive as well as the non-partisan race for the 26th Circuit Court Judge position for the November General Election.
Current Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop chose not to run for re-election, opening the field to a total of five candidates with Democrats Dan Mosley, Ed Harris and Kernie Fee seeking the democratic nomination and Paul Caldwell and David Deron Blanton setting their sights on the Republican slot.
Mosley garnered the majority of votes for the democratic nomination for judge-executive, with Harris placing second.
“I am humbled by the overwhelming support shown by the people of Harlan County,” said Mosley. “This is excellent news for us, we’re excited about being nominated for the Democrat party. Our message was clear from day one — a fresh start for Harlan County with a united approach.”
Mosley said he was excited to be moving on to the General Election in November.
“I’ve made it very clear the economy is going to be my top priority,” said Mosley. “I want to try to find a way to get our people back to work.”
Mosley promised voters that he will stand up for coal at every opportunity as well as attempt to recruit companies that connect with the Appalachian heritage such as firearms and ammunition companies.
Caldwell took the nomination for the Republican party, with Blanton coming in as his closest competitor.
“I appreciate the people that voted for me,” said Caldwell. “I also appreciate my opponents for running a good clean race. William and Deron are fine men.”
Caldwell is also looking forward to November.
“Hopefully we can get a lot of friendly Democrats to join our race this fall,” said Caldwell.
Caldwell, a former magistrate, says his education and technical training as well as his experience has allowed him to develop relationships with officials on the local, state and national levels. Caldwell says this has prepared him to lead and reshape the county.
The non-partisan position of 26th Circuit Court Judge is also up for election in November, with the top two preliminary vote-getters squaring off.
Sitting Circuit Court Judge Henry Johnson received the most votes, securing a spot in the General Election.
“I’m very pleased and grateful to the people who turned out and supported me in this election,” said Johnson. “I look forward to a hard campaign and a clean campaign in the fall.”
Johnson was appointed circuit judge in July. Johnson served as Commonwealth’s attorney in Harlan for nearly 20 years, beginning in 1992. Johnson received his law degree from the University of Kentucky and began practicing law in 1976.
Hendrickson will be running against Johnson in November.
“I’m pleased to be one of the two who will be running in the fall,” said Hendrickson.
Hendrickson says his plan for the circuit court is to put behind all the controversy that plagued the court for the past few years and start anew the kind of court people want — a fair and honest tribunal where people are treated with respect and judgments are rendered without regard to political concerns or other outside influences.
With the primary election over, the candidates set their sights on the November general election.
Joe P. Asher may be reached at 606-573-4510, ext. 1161 or on Twitter #joe_hde