Candidates for Rowan County Clerk, which included incumbent Republican Kim Davis and challenger Democrat Elwood Caudill Jr., tackled questions during the General Candidate Forum held last Tuesday evening at the Morehead Conference Center.
Moderated by Morehead State Public Radio’s (MSPR) Chuck Mraz, candidates fielded several questions from The Morehead News editor Stephanie Ockerman, MSPR’s news director Leeann Akers, and The Trailblazer’s Addie Hogan.
Candidates were asked individual questions allowing a two-minute response. Their opponent would then have the opportunity for a one-minute rebuttal. At the conclusion of the reporter-asked questions, each candidate also received an opportunity to ask a questioned directly to their opponent.
The first question of the evening for the clerk’s office began with the candidate’s stance on LGBTQ rights.
Caudill said he’s always treated everyone fairly and has always upheld the law.
“When we take the oath of office we say we will uphold the law of the land,” Caudill said. “I support anything the law throws at me, because I have no choice.”
Davis said she’s had many people ask her why she didn’t do her job in 2015 when she denied marriage licenses for same-sex couples.
“Our Kentucky Constitution, voted by the people, has not changed,” Davis said. “When I stood up I didn’t treat anyone unfairly. I treated everyone fairly. I quit giving marriage licenses all together.”
Davis said when she received an order from the Governor that told her to go against the state and federal constitution, she was simply upholding the law.
Candidates were then asked about the tax collection process and their experience with such a vital task.
Davis said she was happy to announce that every audit she’s received thus far while she has been in office has been clean.
“I have the experience and integrity to make sure your tax dollars are collected and distributed by law,” Davis said. “I have reported and distributed those funds collected in a timely manner. I want you to know fiscal responsibility is a must. We are close to a $7 million year and you have to know what you’re doing.”
Caudill said his role in the Property Valuation Administration Office for longer than 20 years, in which he has overseen budgets and collected taxes, has prepared him to be a good steward of tax payer money.
“I will efficiently and effectively gather fees and through the use of technology make it easier to pay those taxes and fees,” Caudill said. “I will treat those who come into the office with respect and great hospitality to ensure they want to come in.”
The two were then asked about how their role would be as a local election official while they are running in a race.
Caudill said he lost by 23 absentee votes in 2014 and if he’s elected he will not have anything to do with the absentee election process.
“I will do what I need to do to prepare for the election,” Caudill said. “But, I will not have a hand on the absentee ballot process.”
Davis said one of the many duties of the clerk is being chair of elections of Rowan County.
“It’s a position of high integrity,” Davis said. “I have vowed to do all duties and voting is a statutory requirement. I feel that I serve you the best by offering you the knowledge I have through the election process. To hint of any impropriety is not nice. It’s a very transparent process and we the integrity is very high.”
Davis was then asked about how she has managed her son as an employee, since she said during the last race that there is no law that disallows it.
“My son has been a great employee, knowledgeable in many ways,” Davis said. “He’s great with the public and knows a lot. For me, it’s a matter of trust. He does my human resources, information technology, and much more.”
Caudill said many communities have already passed ordinances against nepotism, and hopes Rowan County will soon follow suit.
“I think it is a conflict,” Caudill said. “As your next clerk I will not hire any family members.”
Caudill said Nathan Davis is great at what he does, but doesn’t believe someone who has been working in that position for four years should necessarily make more than someone working for 10 years.
He also made it clear that in no way would any firing take place of any clerk’s employee should he get elected.
Both candidates waived their right to ask each other a question, citing mutual respect and love for one another.
Brad Stacy can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 784-4116.