Politics & Government

Fayette County results: School board incumbents defeat newcomers; coroner beats former deputy; sheriff wins


Two incumbents in the Fayette County school board race beat two political newcomers in the general election Tuesday.

Incumbent Doug Barnett, a senior staff attorney in the Kentucky Court of Appeals, defeated Roger Cleveland, an associate professor in the College of Education at Eastern Kentucky University, in the 2nd District. The district covers northern Fayette County.

In the 4th District, incumbent Amanda Ferguson, a former mediator and manager of a nonprofit organization, bested Natasha Murray, a consultant with the Kentucky Department of Education. The 4th District includes an area south of Main Street and east of South Broadway.

Barnett and Ferguson had been the two most outspoken members of the five on the board, questioning Superintendent Tom Shelton about budget cuts and findings from a state audit that cited chronic mismanagement.

Ferguson attributed her win to "people wanting someone to speak up and ask questions."

In the next several months, school board members will have to work together to redraw school assignment boundaries and to close the achievement gap for poor, disabled and minority students. The board also will have to decide what to do when Shelton's contract ends in 2015.

On Tuesday night, Ferguson said she wanted to restore "faith and trust" in the school district and to move forward from the findings in the audit.

Barnett attributed his win to his advocacy for schools and for a special-education task force and to the public wanting accountability as a result of the state audit.

"I think it was a referendum on the audit," he said.

Fayette coroner

Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn, a Democrat who was first elected in 2002, defeated Larry Owens, a Republican who retired from the coroner's office two years ago as a deputy.

Ginn said he was thankful that the community had re-elected him.

"I think my service to our community has spoken," Ginn said. "I've ran an honest campaign."

Owens filed a complaint, which was ultimately dismissed, against Ginn before the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Ethics Commission. Owens took issue with the fact that Ginn holds two jobs — his job as coroner, which pays him $71,000 a year, and his role as the bequeathal coordinator at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, which pays him an annual salary of $55,000.

Ginn said Tuesday that both the University of Kentucky and the city ethics commission had found that there was no conflict of interest in his having the two jobs.

Fayette sheriff

Fayette Sheriff Kathy Witt defeated former military police officer Brian Potters, winning a fifth term. Witt said the win showed "our community appreciates the hard work of the men and women of the office of sheriff."

Fayette judge-executive

Republican John Roberts, an attorney who shares a law office with current Fayette County Judge-Executive Jon Larson, defeated Alayne White, a Democrat.

Roberts, a former Lexington police sergeant, ran on a platform of wanting to eliminate what he saw as an "unnecessary position."

In most counties in Kentucky, the county judge-executive typically has most of the power in local government.

When Lexington and Fayette County merged in 1974, the duties and power of several elected positions, including the Fayette County judge executive, were diminished.

White, who once was Urban County social services commissioner, had said she didn't think the office would be eliminated any time soon and wanted to do the job well.