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GOP incumbent facing two challengers in primary for Calloway Co. judge-executive

Derek Operle

A Republican incumbent seeking reelection as Calloway County judge-executive is facing two challengers – a local realtor and a county road department employee – in this month’s primary election.

Calloway County Judge-Executive Kenny Imes is seeking a second four-year term after being appointed by former Gov. Matt Bevin to the seat in 2018. Before serving in the county’s top position, he served in the state legislature for six years as the House District 5 representative. His wife, Mary Beth Imes, is currently holding that elected office.

Imes said he believes his connections in Frankfort from his time in the state legislature are an advantage for the county, pointing to state funding the county has received for infrastructure.

“That doesn't just happen by filling out a piece of paper – you've got to work these things,” Imes said. “Our biggest thing is going to be, that we're going to face, is our infrastructure with regard to buildings and roads.”

Imes said the county road department has been able to pave more roads with a smaller staff and upgraded equipment, and while the hundreds of miles of county roads aren’t in great condition, they’re in “much better shape” than before his time in office.

Imes also touts the low amount of debt the county carries, the positive working relationship he has with other local leaders, including Murray Mayor Bob Rogers, and the ownership transfer of a local public pool solely to the city as highlights of his administration.

One of two challengers vying for the Republican judge-executive nomination is Mark Fredrick, a local realtor and auctioneer who is running for office for the first time. He believes his past business experience in the construction industry running a resort on Kentucky Lake and his time in real estate lend well to the position.

“The kinds of decisions [judge-executives] make about equipment, purchases, how to spend money, and how to try to accomplish big things on a small budget – that's basically what I've been doing my entire life,” Frederick said.

Frederick also said he wants to make the bidding process for county road projects more open and fair, along with focusing on how to best use taxpayer funds efficiently and effectively.

Fredrick said he and his wife – who’s running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate against Rand Paul – were both inspired to run for elected office because of what he claims are “problems” with election integrity, both statewide and locally.

In an interview, Fredrick claimed there could be problems with voting machines that tabulate marked paper ballots and that the machines were connected to the internet, opening up the machines to vulnerabilities including errors and manipulation.

Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams and the Kentucky County Clerk’s Association in recent months have repeatedly stated such claims are false: voting machines are not connected to the internet, paper ballots are required to be kept with new voting machines to ensure a paper trail and voting machines are purchased by individual counties and certified by federal and state boards.

Joel Stansberry – a county road department employee who unsuccessfully ran for judge-executive against Imes in 2018 – is also challenging for the position.

Stansberry said if elected, he would like to hire a full-time grant writer to go after “free money” that could be brought into the county. He believes his 11 years of experience in the county road department dealing with budgetary issues and the regional connections he’s gained from the work make him qualified for the position.

If elected, Stansberry hopes to create more financial accountability on the county government’s behalf.

“I want to pretty much bust open the books for the county and find out exactly how the money's working and make sure everything's being taken care of exactly how it's supposed to be,” Stansberry said.

He said improving and maintaining roads in the county is a priority for him, along with improving the finances of residents with inflation impacting budgets. He also said, if elected, his office would be open to anyone with concerns or questions.

No Democrat is running for the position, meaning that whoever wins the Republican primary will run unopposed in November’s general election. Kentucky’s primary election is May 17.

"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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