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Low turnout expected in Boyd County for primary election

May. 17, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

CATLETTSBURG, Ky. -- Turnout could be very light, in the range of 10 to 12 percent, when Boyd County voters go the polls May 22 in the primary election, said Boyd County Clerk Debbie Jones.

"We've only had 225 applications for absentee ballots," Jones said Monday. "Only 150 of those have been returned so far."

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Election Day. Any registered voters who will be out of the county on Tuesday, May 22, can vote at the clerk's office in the Boyd County Courthouse through 4 p.m. Monday.

With the presidential primary pretty well settled, only Democratic primaries for Commonwealth's Attorney and Boyd County Circuit Clerk and the Republican and Democratic primaries for the 4th district seat for Congress are on the ballot. The Democratic primary for both county offices likely will settle the matter since no Republicans filed for circuit clerk or commonwealth's attorney.

In the primary for commonwealth's attorney, David Justice, the incumbent, is seeking his second, six-year term as county prosecutor. He faces Roger Hall, an Ashland lawyer. The office pays more than $100,000. The amount varies from year to year, Justice said. The office also has a budget of more than $200,000, but is facing an 8 percent cut on July 1, he said.

Justice, 63, spent six years in the U.S. Navy and worked at the C&O Railroad and Armco Steel before getting a law degree.

"I am a life-long Democrat," Justice said. "We have had more than 2,400 criminal convictions, triple the rate from the previous administration.

"We have the experience to handle criminal cases effectively and aggressively," Justice said. "We have handled more than 800 cases a year in Boyd County District Court and Boyd County Circuit Court. I don't know the last time my opponent handled a criminal case.

"We have a great relationship with law enforcement and with victims," Justice continued. "We have a 99 percent conviction rate. We're very fair and efficient and tough on cases where we need to be."

Hall, 66, has been practicing law for 39 years. He prosecuted cases when he served as assistant county attorney in the 1970s.

"I was a second lieutenant during the Vietnam War," Hall said. "I had 350 men under me. I was in the U.S. Air Force for four years. I have handled cases before the Kentucky Supreme Court and the federal court of appeals in Richmond (Virginia). I would be taking a salary cut" if elected.

"I don't think the commonwealth's attorney's office is accessible to the public," Hall said. "They sit over there behind locked doors. I will be accessible to law enforcement and to the public."

While no Republican has filed for the office or for circuit clerk, a candidate could file as a write-in candidate for the job in the general election this fall.

Linda Kay Baker, 61, is seeking her second term as circuit clerk. The office has 18 employees and the job pays about $84,000 per year. She has served as a deputy clerk in the office for 21 years and chief deputy clerk for five years before being elected to the office six years ago.

"I have worked in the office for 32 years," Baker said. "All of the employees are cross-trained. I have the experience and dedication for the job. We treat the public the way we could want to be treated. I am accessible to the public and work well with law enforcement, the court system and the public."

The office handles the paperwork for both Boyd County District Court and Boyd County Circuit Court.

James "Kipp" Barker, 38, has worked as an insurance agent for Putnam Insurance in Ashland for the past 13 years. He has a bachelor's in business administration with an emphasis in management.

"I have worked as a manager at Putnam for five years," he said. "I also have worked for a number of non-profits in Boyd County. I want to bring a business-style customer service to a government agency. I want to run an efficient and friendly office."

Seven candidates have filed for the Republican nomination for Congress and two Democrats have filed for the office.

Alicia Webb-Eddington, Gary Moore, Marc Carey, Walter Christian Schumm, Brian D. Oerther, Thomas Massie and Tom Wurtz have filed for the Republican nomination while Greg Frank and William R. "Bill" Adkins have filed for the Democratic nomination for the 4th district seat in Congress.