Meet your candidates for LaRue County magistrate

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Summary of information from candidates

By Linda Ireland

All four seats of LaRue Fiscal Court are up for grabs this year and three races will be settled in the May 18 primary.


By state law, Fiscal Court works with the judge/executive to oversee county spending and the road system. Each magistrate (also called justice of the peace) is elected to a four-year term.  (Salaries are about $578.69 monthly and are adjusted annually by the consumer price index.)

District 1 - Hodgenville and Hodgenville West

Democratic incumbent Peggy Hawkins faces a challenge from Gary T. “Tony” Stewart in District 1.

Hawkins, 67, has been married 48 years, has four children, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. She is a high school graduate and has some college hours.

Her work experience includes stints with Hummer and Keith Insurance Agency and the Commonwealth of Kentucky. She attends Buffalo Baptist Church and is involved with the American Cancer Society, LaRue County Extension Service and County Board of Health.

Hawkins said her past experience as magistrate has taught her that “the court does more than just take care of the roads in the county, it sees to the fiscal responsibility of tax monies. I’ve learned that what you might want to do and what you can actually do are sometimes different.”

Stewart, 55, is a 1973 graduate of LaRue County High School and attended Western Kentucky University. He has been married 11 years and has four children and six grandchildren.

He’s a member and trustee of Lane Lincoln CME Church.

Prior work experience includes being a supervisor at Gates Rubber Co. for 14 of the 27 years he was employed there and crew leader at Hardin County Road Department since 2005.

He served on the LCHS site-based council 2005-06, is a licensed official of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and a member of Land of Lincoln Planning and Zoning.

“During the 14 years I worked in management at Gates Rubber Company, I worked with budgets and always worked as efficiently as possible,” Stewart said. “I understand in this day and time you must try to maintain for less.

“As crew leader for Hardin County Road Department, I have gained insight to the problems that can occur within our county road system and as magistrate, will work closely with the LaRue County Road Department to correct any problems that arise.”

District 2 - Hodgenville East, White City, Lyons

In District 2, incumbent Scotty Lee faces challenge from three other Democrats — Thomas S. “Tom” Smith, Ricky Whitlock and Ronnie Chelf.

Lee, 47, has been a magistrate 19 years. He’s a 1980 graduate of LCHS and 1984 graduate of University of Kentucky.

He and his wife Robin own Lee’s Garden Center. They have three children and two grandsons.

Previous work experience includes Southern States management program (1985-1989) working in London, Springfield, Lebanon and Bardstown.

Lee has served on Kentucky Farm Bureau board of directors; LaRue County Beef Association; and 20 years on the LaRue County Parks and Recreation Board.

“The things that qualified me in my past experience are the same qualities that continue to make me a qualified servant today,” Lee said. “The strength of family, the desire to help people, the ability to be open and communicate with all LaRue County citizens, having a conservative business approach to how our county is operated, living and working not only in the county but running a business in the district and seeing and hearing neighbors and newcomers alike ...”

Chelf, 56, is a 1972 LCHS graduate. He and his wife, Donna, have three sons and a grandson.

Chelf is in his 14th year of serving on the LaRue County School Board. His term expires in two years. If elected as magistrate, he said he will step down as school board member.

Business experience includes ownership of Ronnie’s Custom Cabinets for 37 years and Ruthie’s Lincoln Freeze since the early 1980s. He has been a member of Lincoln Trail Homebuilders Association since 1979.

He has served on Youth Soccer League Board, is president of LCHS Soccer Boosters and is in his 14th year with the Babe Ruth Youth Baseball Board.

“I have been in LaRue County for my entire life for a reason,” Chelf said. “I love this community. And I want the best for LaRue County as a whole. We the townspeople can make changes together as a working unit ... I have been in business for 37 years for a reason. I have always had to deal with financial situations and my businesses made it through the recession in the ’80s and we will make it through the recession we are in now. I believe LaRue County has progressed in the past 10 years but the ability to make this a landmark for all of America to recognize is right now.”

Smith, 63, has some college hours and is married to Phyllis Puckett Smith. They have four children and nine grandchildren.

He is a retired Teamster after 35 years of driving. After retirement, he moved to Lyons Station and started a horse and buggy business “Have Buggy Will Travel.” He also has been employed at the LaRue County Detention Center.

Whitlock did not return the requested information to the Herald News.

District 3 - Buffalo, Lincoln Farm, Otter

Republican incumbent Bryan “Stumpy” Durham is giving up his seat in District 3 to run for jailer.

Four Demo-crats are running for the seat — Ronald Dale Nunn, Tommy DeSpain, Larry Elliot and Willard Lee Price. The winner of the May primary will face Republican challenger Debbie Atherton in the fall.

Nunn, 68, has two children and four grandchildren. The LCHS graduate served on the LaRue County School Board two years, constable four years and deputy sheriff for 25 years. He was a factory worker 30 years and worked the polls on Election Day.

He’s a member of Buffalo Baptist Church, a Mason, member of Gavel Lodge 570 and Gideon, Hodgenville Camp.

“I believe in what I am trying to do,” Nunn said. “I have the knowledge and education to do the job. I am familiar with district 3 and most of the citizens who live within its boundaries.”

Nunn said he will be “available 24 hours a day” and as a past deputy sheriff has “traveled over every road in the district.”

Price, 52, is a graduate of LCHS. He is married to Portia Luckette and has two stepsons and five grandchildren.

He has owned Willard’s Heating and Cooling for 26 years and served as foreman for Lewis Ireland Heating and Cooling for nine years. He farms also.

“I deal with people every day and I think it would help in this office,” Price said. “I have also been around construction all my life and see how things are done and need to be done. I try to be honest in everything I do and like to treat people the way I would want to be treated.”

De-Spain, 55, earned his GED in 1982. He and his wife, Ramon,a have four children and eight grandchildren.

DeSpain retired from Kentucky Department of Transportation after 27 years and served as supervisor for City of Hodgenville for one year. His experience dealing with drainage of roadways, hazardous materials, clearing rights of way and ice removal plus continuing education classes provide insight into the work of a magistrate, he said. He is also a heavy equipment operator of a backhoe, bulldozer and grader.

Elliott, 53, graduated from LCHS in 1974. He and his wife Karen have three children and seven grandchildren.

He works second shift at General Electric, was a team leader at AGC Automotive and spent 20 years as route salesman for Kern’s Bread.

“I have lived and farmed in District 3 all my life,” Elliott said. “My wife and I operate a business in Hodgenville. I can work effectively in a group as member or leader.”

District 4 - Magnolia, Upton, Mount Sherman, Barren Run

Incum-bent W.L. Miller is seeking a second term as magistrate. He is being challenged by fellow Democrats Eddie Thompson and Pat Eastridge.

Miller, 47, is a graduate of LaRue County High School. He has been married 27 years to Pamela Durham Miller. They have a daughter and son.

He currently works in the maintenance department for the LaRue County Board of Education.

Miller said he has an “understanding of working with others to improve our county.”

“After being in this position, I know how to get concerns met in a timely manner.”

Thompson, 45, is a graduate of LaRue County High School. He has two children and two grandchildren. He has worked with AGC Automotive Americas for 21 years.

“My family and I have been life-long residents of district four,” he said. “Any citizen who contacts me with an issue - every effort will be made to resolve the problem.”

East-ridge was magistrate of the district for eight years. The 53-year-old has been married to Donetta Bell Eastridge for more than 30 years. They have four children and four grandchildren. He’s a 1974 graduate of LCHS and retired dairy farmer.

He is employed as maintenance supervisor for Winterwood Inc. in Elizabethtown and has served as commissioner for the LaRue County Water District. He’s a trustee at Oak Hill Baptist Church.

“I consider myself to be an active community member with a vested interest in our growth,” Eastridge said. “With eight years of past experience as district 4 magistrate, I will be a voice for the entire district”

Fiscal Court meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the courthouse.

Requirements for magistrate: At the time of election, must be at least 24 years of age, a citizen of Kentucky, has resided in the State two years, and one year next preceding his election in the county and district in which he is a candidate.