Clark County

Clark voters change form of government; Nicholasville does not

Clark Countians voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to return to a magistrate form of county government.

The proposal was approved by about 63 percent of voters, according to figures from the Kentucky secretary of state's office.

Meanwhile, voters in Nicholasville apparently turned down a proposal to shift that city from a city commission to a mayor-council form of government.

Returns showed that 5,404 residents voted against the proposal and 3,879 voted for it.

Perry Barnes, chairman of the committee that pushed for the government change, blamed the outcome on a combination of "money, deception, lies and big government. I'm not a graceful loser," he said.

In Clark County, voters decided in 2006 to drop the magistrate form and adopt a county commission made up of a county judge and three commissioners. The change took effect in 2010. On Tuesday, residents made it clear they want the old system back.

Sheilah McCord, one of those who campaigned to change things back, said Tuesday night that many Clark County residents never felt adequately represented under the commission form of government. That was particularly true in rural areas of the county, she said.

McCord's husband, former county magistrate Joe McCord, argued during the campaign that three commissioners weren't enough to represent the county's more than 35,000 residents adequately. Among other things, he said, many residents didn't know who their commissioners were in the new system.

Sheilah McCord said Tuesday night that two of the three current county commission members had supported the ballot proposition to restore the magistrate form.

She contended that many residents voted for the commission form of government in 2006 without understanding what was being proposed.

"The way it was worded, it was very confusing," she said.

With Tuesday's vote, Clark County will have a county judge-executive and six magistrates.

But that won't happen until the current county commissioners' terms expire in two years.

Barnes and others arguing for a mayor-council government in Nicholasville also had argued that many residents weren't adequately represented under the city commission form.

Nicholasville voters, however, made it clear Tuesday that they wanted to stick with the current system.

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