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June 2012
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Pruitt to skip re-election to focus on health issue

By Leanne Fuller lfuller@paducahsun.com

Hickman County Judge-Executive Greg Pruitt has decided not to run for another term in the office he's served since 1988, instead devoting more of his time to his health.

Pruitt said that he has hereditary spastic paraplegia, an inherited disorder that isn't terminal, but slowly immobilizes patients from the waist down. 

He said several ancestors have had HSP, including his father, who is paralyzed from the waist down.

"I simply drew the unlucky straw, and I have it," Pruitt said.

The judge-executive said he made the decision not to run with a heavy heart, but that he needs to devote all the time and effort necessary to deal with the condition: doing physical therapy and utilizing the services of doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the University of Michigan Health System.

"At this point, I've got to do what will allow me to be able to be moving and productive," Pruitt said.

Pruitt said serving the people of Hickman County for more than 25 years has been a privilege he is thankful for, and if not for his health he would continue "for as long as people would allow me."

But the decision not to run, Pruitt said, is one he made for himself and his family. He and his wife, Norma, have three children and four grandchildren.

"I want to be able to do things with those grandbabies for as long as I can," he said.

Even though he isn't running for judge-executive, Pruitt said he is not using the word "retiring."

"I'm going to continue to support this county in every way I can," he said.

 Pruitt said he will still be involved in Hickman County, whether by serving on local boards or through economic development activities.

According to Hickman County Clerk James Berry, two people have filed to run for judge-executive in 2014: Jailer Chad Frizzell and local businessman Joey McGee.

Each candidate said he initially thought Pruitt would seek re-election, and each decided to run after hearing of Pruitt's decision.

Frizzell was elected to the city council in Columbus in 1999, serving one term. He began working at the Hickman County Detention Center in Clinton in 2000 and was elected jailer in 2006.

The jailer said he has been involved in local government in Hickman County since the age of 18, and serving as judge-executive has been one of his goals.

"Hickman County is my home," Frizzell said. "I've lived here my entire life. There's a lot of things I believe we can accomplish here."

Frizzell said he believes one of the main duties of local government is to protect the people, and that among the concerns on his mind for Hickman County are its three fire departments and its ambulance service, which the jailer said have been struggling financially.

"We want to do everything we can to keep our fire department in good order and our ambulance service in good order," he said.

Frizzell said he wants to work to foster economic growth in the county, focusing on agriculture and small business growth.

Frizzell also said his goals would include conducting town hall-style meetings and forums in various places throughout the county to encourage citizens to be more involved in local government and to see those in county government become more involved in Hickman County High School's leadership academy to help train the county's future leaders and listen to the students' ideas for the future of the county.

McGee, who filed to run for judge-executive Monday morning, said he has worked in construction about 36 years, 18 of those at McKinney Construction, where he serves as vice president and project manager.

"I'm not a politician," McGee said. "Don't claim to be. I think people are tired of politics."

He said the county needs a new set of eyes to look at some of its issues.

"I just feel like I can help the county somewhat," McGee said.

Concerns McGee said he would like to focus on if elected are the jail, the ambulance service, its rescue squad and health department.

McGee has lived in Hickman County - where he was born - for the previous 10 years. He said the county is where his grandparents are from and where his son went to school.

McGee said he has known Pruitt a long time and, if elected, he can build off Pruitt's ideas as well as contribute those of his own. 

"I just want to build a better Hickman County," McGee said.

Contact Leanne Fuller, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.

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