Time to end practice of appointing Boyle County’s elected officials

Published 8:33 am Monday, October 9, 2017


Guest columnist

We don’t need county office-holders who hand-pick their successors. That is the role of the voters, not government officials. Our office-holders in Boyle County have consistently relied on the tactic of “timely” resignations to allow their chosen successor the luxury of on-the-job training and the advantage of being the incumbent in the next election.

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In the Boyle County Courthouse, five of our six county offices are currently occupied by individuals who were appointed, not elected, to their first term in office. It didn’t go to a vote and you, as a citizen, had no role in decisions that directly impact your life. That’s not democracy.

Timing is everything in local politics. These resignations are timed so a special election will not be required. Instead the replacement is named by another official in the same political party.

Let’s take a look at history. This nepotistic trend dates back to 1978 when the office of county judge-executive was changed by the legislature from a judicial position to being chief executive and administrative officer for county government.

The original county judge-executive in Boyle County was Mary Pendygraft, who was appointed by Gov. Julian Carroll upon the death of Judge June White. Pendygraft resigned in July 1993 and Gov. Brereton Jones appointed Tony Wilder, who ran for election in November 1993. Wilder served until March 2008 and resigned to take a job in Frankfort. Current Judge-Executive Harold McKinney was appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear. Notice the pattern?

Now, let’s take a look at the office of county court clerk. John B. Nichols held the office for over a generation. When he resigned in 1997, Denise Curtsinger was appointed by the judge-executive to complete his term. When Denise resigned in October 2008, Trille Bottom was then appointed to complete Denise’s term. Trille would not face reelection until November 2010.

The same pattern emerges for the Sheriff’s office. Lee Roy Hardin retired in 2010, and Marty Elliott was appointed. In 2016, with the retirement of Marty, Derek Robbins was appointed. Here’s a listing of Boyle County elected officials appointed to their first terms:


Harold McKinney (D) — appointed 2008 by Gov. Steve Beshear (D)

Tony Wilder (D) — appointed 1993 by Gov. Brereton Jones (D)

Mary Pendygraft (D) — appointed 1978 by Gov. Julian Carroll (D)

County clerk

Trille Bottom (D) — appointed 2008 by Harold McKinney (D)

Denise Curtsinger (D) — appointed 1997 by Tony Wilder (D)

Circuit court clerk

Courtney Shewmaker (D) — appointed 2016 by Judge Darren Peckler (D)

Joni Terry (D) — appointed 1993 by Judge Steve Shewmaker (D)

Tony Wilder (D) — appointed 1988 by Judge Steve Shewmaker (D)

County attorney

Lynne Dean (D) — appointed 2017 by Harold McKinney (D)

Richard Campbell (D) — appointed 1996 by Tony Wilder (D)


Derek Robbins (D) — appointed 2016 by Harold McKinney (D)

Marty Elliott (D) — appointed 2010 by Harold McKinney (D)

There is inherent power in being an incumbent.  Being the incumbent provides these office holders a great deal of influence (and power). This power can be leveraged, before and during the election season for free self-promotion, which is not governed by election laws.

These self-promoting activities can be disguised as publicly recognized/announced donations or sponsorships to local organizations and school sporting events. By using the name of the office, rather than the office-holder, they get promotion and publicity (as the current office holder), skirting campaign finance laws.

It’s time for this practice to end.

You can end it. Vote those who utilize such self-serving tactics out of office and vote for individuals dedicated to serving you (instead of themselves and their political party).

We need a better, stronger, more civic-minded and community-serving group of individuals in every local government office. Boyle County deserves it and Boyle County voters can make it happen.

Since 1985, the Democratic Party in Boyle County has only increased by 1,219 registered voters, while the Republican Party has increased by 6,088. This means the Democratic Party has moved from a majority of over 80 percent to just under 52 percent as of September 2017. That statistic alone is very telling about the current mood of local citizens. Voters want change and they’re willing to change their voter registration to help achieve it.

The system is rigged. Your vote should count. Imagine what Boyle County can become when we actually elect our leaders to be accountable to us, the voters, and end this rigged system.

Tom Tye is the chair of the Boyle County Republican Party.