Two vie for Mercer judge-executive

May 09, 2004|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - The two men seeking their party's nomination for Mercer County judge-executive approach the job from different perspectives, which may color their views of the position.

John Trisler was appointed in Sept. 2003 to replace the late Charles McGinnis, who had recently lost his two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. Trisler's appointment was to last until the following year's elections.

Nevertheless, Trisler said early on that he was not there to serve a one-year term and is seeking election to the job to which he was appointed.

Third District Magistrate Larry Peyton sat next to McGinnis in Mercer County Fiscal Court meetings for much of the time that Peyton has served the court, and now sits next to Trisler and has a view of the office.


"When Charlie passed away, I thought it was too important a job to be filled by appointment," Peyton said in a telephone interview last week. Peyton submitted his name and was one of the people on a list considered by Gov. Paul Patton when he had to replace McGinnis.

"It's the highest elective job in the county," Peyton said. Had he been appointed rather than Trisler, he believes the voters should decide. "I still think there should be an election." While the May 18 election is a primary election, it will determine who fills out McGinnis' term since there are no Republicans seeking the job. If Trisler wins, Peyton will still have his magisterial term to fulfill. A loss for Trisler would end his service to the county at the end of this year.

For his part, Trisler wants to complete the work started by him and his predecessors and extend that work into planning for Mercer County five years down the road. He sees his job as communicating with other officials - local, state and federal - and with the community he wants to continue to serve.

He points to the $1.6 million in grants the county and the city of Harrodsburg have received in his first three months on the job, and says at the end of seven months that amount has risen to $3.5 million. "If we get a (state) budget, we have the potential for another $1.5 million for economic development," Trisler said.

Trisler said he thought raising needed funds would be more difficult than it has been, but it still requires an effort. "It's communicating the need in an effective way and convincing people you work with that it is needed. A lot of people think these grants are giveaways, but they are not; they're hard work."

While Trisler would make no comment about his opponent, Peyton said Trisler has been taking credit for grants that have been in the pipeline for several years. Both men enumerated issues and goals they have for the county.

Trisler names drug abuse as the biggest problem in Mercer County. "We must reduce drug abuse," he said. "It's an expensive cost to government, law enforcement, and incarceration. We have got to figure out how to keep people from getting into drugs. We have to focus on the community."

At a candidates' forum Thursday night sponsored by the Mercer County Farm Bureau, Peyton saw the drug problem as the responsibility of one element of society. "I would rely on law enforcement," Peyton told the crowd gathered at Anderson Circle Farm's show barn.

Peyton said he thinks better drug education would help, but assigned drug abuse problems to law enforcement. "I see that as their job," he said.

Trisler replied that he already sits down with other officials every two weeks to discuss current cases of drug abuse.

"We've got to get on prevention," he said. "We may be holding our own now, but the problem will increase."

Both men think economic development is a key to the survival of the way of life in Mercer County. Trisler lists job retention, job growth the attraction to small- and medium-sized business, industry and tourism as important areas of attention.

"I'd like to have another industry," Peyton said. "But I'm not going to tell the people we can get one. I want to maintain the industry we have. We need more skilled high-tech type jobs. We need to teach more technological stuff in the high schools and tech schools."

Trisler wants to provide a clean, safe environment here. "We have got a lot of junky places around our county that most people have walked off from. We're going to need stiffer requirements to clean up this stuff." Peyton said he would like to sponsor a county-wide cleanup. When he was street supervisor for the city, he saw that clean-up week helps all citizens, especially the elderly who have no way to get rid of large items.

Peyton listed other goals he'd like fulfilled if he is elected. "Necessities come first with me," he said. "I'd like to maintain our roads and bridges and make sure they are free of ice and snow. I can push snow with the best of them and go to Frankfort the next day and lobby for any funds we need."

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