Primary Profiles 2018: Candidates for 3rd District constable talk platforms

Published 6:00 am Friday, April 27, 2018

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories from The Advocate-Messenger looking at every contested local race on the May 22 primary ballots. Check back tomorrow for a look at another race.

James Murphy and John Hambel are running for 3rd District constable in Boyle County. And both have very different reasons for wanting the position.

The incumbent 

Email newsletter signup

Murphy has been the 3rd District constable for 16 years.

“We (constables) have the same powers of Kentucky State Police” when it comes to making an arrest anywhere in the state, Murphy said. Constables are county elected officials and are trained by the Kentucky State Police, he said. The only thing constables cannot do is become involved in a domestic situation, he said.

Even though Murphy said he is qualified to make arrests, he mainly serves papers and wants to continue serving eviction notices; and court summonses and subpoenas for local attorneys, as well as for three in Lexington and five in Cincinnati. 

As a constable, “I strictly stick to serving papers,” Murphy said.

                  James Murphy

Sometimes he also physically moves people out of their residence when an eviction is finalized and the renters haven’t moved out, he said.

However, Murphy said he declines to serve warrants for arrests because it’s too dangerous.

Murphy said the schools and Housing Authority also call upon him to check on the welfare of children and adults if they suspect there is a problem in the home.

Constables do not receive pay from Boyle County Fiscal Court. 

However, constables are allowed to earn up to $14,000 a year for their work serving legal papers, Murphy said. 

He said he prefers to work for the attorneys because they pay more than the sheriff’s office pays for his services.

Murphy said he serves between 11 and 15 legal papers a week. He said sometimes, people will run if they realize they’re being served a summons or eviction notice, but that’s never happened to him.

“Everybody knows me,” Murphy said. “So many times they say, ‘Thank you Mr. Murphy,’” and accept the documents from him without incident.

Murphy said he enjoys the job and hopes to be constable four more years, rounding out his service to 20 years, “Then I’m done. Then I’ll run for something else, like commissioner or magistrate.”

Murphy works part-time as a Danville Schools bus driver, mailman in Lexington, limo driver and truck driver for Bluegrass Trucking. He also owns M&M Mowing Co. and K&J Properties.

The challenger 

Hambel has been constable in the 4th District for about five years. Hambel said he recently moved to the 3rd District and wants to continue his service in that capacity because a constable has to live in the same district as he or she serves.

Hambel said he wants to focus on animal control issues.

Hambel was an animal control officer in Boyle County for the past 10 years and is now the Director of Animal Control, following the retirement of Dan Turcea in February. Hambel said the only reason he wants to be constable is to enhance his level of authority when it comes to protecting the county’s animals.

“I’m passionate about animals … I want to continue to serve animals and animal owners,” Hambel said. “I’m 100-percent passionate about animals.”

“We already have great law enforcement,” Hambel said. So he will not serve warrants, summonses or eviction notices.

                 John Hambel

However, being a constable, he would have the authority write citations to those who abuse animals.  

“Right now, animal control doesn’t have any real powers and can’t write citations,” Hambel said.

Being constable in the 4th District for the past five years has allowed him to be more effective as an animal control officer, Hambel said. He has about eight cases in the court system at any one time due to animal neglect or people letting pets run at-large.

Being a constable would allow him to not only educate, but also enforce animal protection laws.

If Hambel doesn’t win the 3rd District constable office, he said he would probably figure out a way to move back to the 4th District and get re-appointed for the position since no one is running for the office.