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Incumbent Graves Co. judge-exec faces sole Democratic challenger

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The race for the Graves County judge-executive seat pits an independent incumbent against a sole Democratic challenger.

Current Graves County judge-executive Jesse Perry has been in office since 2015, serving as a county commissioner for a single term before that. Perry changed his party affiliation from Democratic in 2017 and now runs on the ballot as an independent.

His most recent actions in the county’s top office have been focused on helping the residents of Mayfield and the rest of the county recover after the devastating December tornadoes. Though progress is being made, recovery and rebuilding is far from over. Perry outlined plans for what he imagines the new Mayfield will look like in February, including redesigning the city’s courthouse and jail to become separate buildings.

Jesse Perry didn’t respond to requests for further comment about his tenure and future plans if reelected.

Democratic challenger Michael Dick is the only other candidate to file for the race. They’ll face each other in the fall’s general election.

Dick is a former small business owner – having formerly run a trucking company and managed a mowing business – with a background in construction and road work. Dick said he helped to create the Saratoga Springs and Hunters Pointe housing developments in Murray with a local construction company. Dick said he hopes to apply his business experience to county government.

“I was not happy with for one the shape the roads in the county have gotten into,” Dick said, “I’m going to try and use my experience to put them in better shape, and make sure our county tax dollars are being spent where they should be.”

Dick said he believes one of the bigger issues currently facing Graves is a lack of industry. Dick referenced Calloway County’s industrial park and described the venture as “booming.” Dick said the county needs to invest more effort into recruiting and enticing businesses to come to the area.

“I don’t really believe that our leadership is doing that at our local level and our state level,” he said.

Dick plans to follow the same model as Paducah and employ the Mayfield-Graves Chamber of Commerce more as a resource in Frankfort. Dick said one his priorities would be to lobby Frankfort and Kentucky’s General Assembly for more support.

“Graves County sits in the center of the Jackson Purchase Area ... Graves County, in my opinion, is your prime example [of a location] to put anything as far as a regional licenses office, anything all the counties are going to have to use.”

Dick said the increase in development and industrialization can help solve other issues such as youth retention after high school. Dick said he wants to create opportunities for young people looking to enter the workforce that give them a reason to stay in Graves County rather than move away.

On the topic of tornado recovery, Dick said he has been displeased with how the fiscal court handled the situation. Dick said he disagrees with the fiscal court offering a bid to oversee the reconstruction of the courthouse and then also give out separate bids for the demolition and architect.

Dick said the reason he decided to run was he wants to spark changes for Graves County.

“You can either vote for change … [or] sit back and not do anything, just watch the world pass in your own little bubble. And, that’s one of the reasons I decided to run. I want to try and make those changes.”

The 2022 primary elections will take place on May 17. Learn more about races in the region in our Primary Election Voter Guide.

Zacharie Lamb is a music major at Murray State University and is a Graves County native.
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