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Incumbents face heavy competition

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

Amid congested races for City Commission and Fiscal Court full of new faces, several incumbents in McCracken County and surrounding counties will also see new challengers in 2014, either in the primary or general election.

Nancy Bock, current Democratic property valuation administrator, will face local Realtor and Republican Bill Dunn. This will be the first year Bock, who has held the position for 21 years and worked in the office for 32 years, is opposed.

She emphasized the many awards and accolades her office has won during her tenure, including PVA of the Year and Office of Outstanding Jurisdiction in Kentucky. She said during her time in the position, county assessments have increased from $675 million to $6.2 billion recorded last year.

"I've always had an open-door policy and make it a point to sit at the front desk and greet taxpayers as they come into our office," she said. "We have also worked hard to keep people informed about assessments."

Dunn, a Realtor at Elite Realty Group and owner of BLAC Properties LLC and employee at VCI Internet Services, said he has been considering a run and watching the PVA office closely for three years. He said his knowledge and experience within the real estate world will bring a valuable perspective to the position.

"I think my experience, abilities and education can get the job done," he said.

Incumbent Democratic county jailer Bill Adams, who has held the job since 2005 and worked in the facility since 1995, will face opposition in a third consecutive race. Mark Kidd, who was one of two write-in candidates who emerged against Jeff Jerrell for county clerk in 2010, has filed on the Republican ticket.

Adams pointed to his hard work trimming the department's nutritional and medical services budget that saved between $2 to $3 million.

"With more than 400 people staying in the jail daily, the goal is not to waste any of the taxpayers'  money and find the most economical way to do things," he said. "Being in jail is a punishment in itself so we try to make it a humane place."

The retirement of Jerrell has opened the race to two current 20-plus year employees of the county clerk's office, Julie Griggs and Tracy Jones, both running as Democrats. Zana Renfro, current District 3 representative on the Fiscal Court, has also filed to run on the Democratic ticket. The winner of the primary will face Republican candidate Becky Bowers, a write-in candidate in the 2010 county clerk election, who currently works as a senior sales representative for Hultman Inc. in Paducah.

In local constable races, District 1 Democratic incumbent Mark Hayden, who has held the position since 2010 when he defeated Tom Lowe, will see Dennis Gibson, a retired Tennessee Valley Authority police officer and McCracken County deputy sheriff, in the primary.

In District 2, incumbent Democrat Tony Veltri, who has served as constable since 1997, will again face Republican Ricky Box, who ran in 2010, and new challenger Hooper, a member of the Modern Whig Party, who will run as an Independent candidate. Hooper goes by the single name.

Democrat Michael Cheek, who held the position prior to 2010, is running unopposed for District 3 constable. Incumbent Scott Wathen filed to run for District 3 county commissioner, the seat that will be vacated by Renfro.

County Attorney Mike Murphy is set to retire after five years in the position and 28 working in the court system. Democrat Samuel Clymer, a juvenile and family court prosecutor, has filed and will run unopposed. Incumbent County Surveyor Alan Robinson, a Republican, filed to run for his second term and is the sole candidate.

On the state level, U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield will go up against one of two Democratic challengers, Charles Kendall Hatchett of Benton, whom Whitfield defeated in the 2012 general election, or Murray State University student Wesley Bolin, for the first congressional district. The candidates for the District 2 state Senate seat are Democrat Jeff Parker and Republicans Danny Carroll and David Hoffman.

In regional House races, Republican incumbent Steven Rudy is running unopposed in District 1. In District 2, incumbent Richard Heath, a Republican, will face Democrat Jesse Wright, attorney and co-owner of Kemp & Wright, PLLC in Mayfield. Republican Randy Bridges of RE/MAX Reality Group in Paducah will go up against District 3 incumbent Democrat Gerald Watkins. 

Democrat and Princeton resident Jarrod Jackson will challenge Republican incumbent Lynn Bechler for District 4 representative. Kenny Imes, the Republican incumbent, will face Democrat and current Calloway County Attorney David Harrington in District 5. Incumbent Democrat Will Coursey will try to retain his District 6 seat against Republican Keith Travis, vice president of development for Murray-Calloway County Hospital.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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