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Wanda Crupper Hammons finally has the seat on the Grant County Fiscal Court that eluded her in the 2010 election.
Gov. Steve Beshear appointed Hammons on Feb. 7 as magistrate for the second district to replace Brian Linder, who resigned after being elected state representative.
The unexpired term ends Dec. 31, 2014.
“I was surprised and humbled by being appointed,” Hammons said. “I’m deeply appreciative that Gov. Beshear selected me after a long deliberation.”
In the 2010 general election, Republican incumbent Linder handily defeated Hammons in the magisterial race.
Linder garnered 1,218 votes compared to Hammons’ 718 votes.
The two faced off again in November 2012 for the state representative seat long held by Royce Adams, who announced he would retire.
Linder received more votes than his Democratic challenger in each of the three-county’s of the 61st District, including a more than 2,500-vote margin in Grant County.
“I gained a lot of knowledge during the campaign by talking and meeting with people from all walks of life,” Hammons said. “I think people want elected or appointed officials to put politics aside and work for the common good of everyone. I believe the people want us to provide services and work within our means. I know I can’t make everyone happy, but I think everyone will be happy with my passion and work ethic.”
Hammons works as an emergency medical technician for Rural Metro in Grant County.
She is a member of the Dry Ridge Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, Grant County Homemakers, Grant County Local Emergency Planning Committee and the 2013 H.O.P.E. (Helping Out People Everywhere) Advisory Board.
Hammons also is a 2011 graduate of Emerge Kentucky, a leadership program for women who are thinking of running for political office.
“The contacts that I made by going through Emerge Kentucky will open doors that will provide access to leaders, including the Governor’s Office, throughout the state,” she said. “I will use that to my advantage to help the citizens of Grant County.”
The governor’s selection of Hammons came as a surprise to some, including Grant County Judge-Executive Darrell Link.
Link said former State Rep. Royce Adams was the nominee put forward by the Grant County Democratic Party to the Governor’s Office.
Other than Adams and Hammons, other candidates interviewed by the Grant County Democratic Executive Committee included Danny Bates, Crystal Fryman, Rodney Howe, Vanessa Rose, Carol Scroggins, Carl Simpson, Anitra Jump and Travis Woodyard.
“My main objective was to give any interested individual the opportunity to interview, with that said, I knew that the governor could appoint anyone living in the 2nd district,” said Tabatha Clemons, who recently submitted her resignation as chair of the party after giving birth to a son. “Each person who interviewed brought a different perspective and it was encouraging to see that there are people in our community who are passionate to serve.”
The Grant County Republican Party also submitted Jimmy Wells, Brad Shadler and Jim Simpson to the Governor’s Office for the vacant position.
The proper thing would have been to replace a Republican with a Republican, said Pete Whaley, chair of the Grant County Republican Party.
“The balance of the fiscal court would have remained the same with Democrats still solidly in control,” he said. “Yet, when given the opportunity to demonstrate even the slightest degree of bipartisanship, the governor chose party over fairness.”
However, Whaley said the decision to not choose the local Democratic’s nomination of Adams for the vacancy was unexpected.
“Royce served our area well for two decades and yet the governor chose someone who had been overwhelmingly rejected by the voters of Grant County not once, but twice within the past few years,” Whaley said. “This appointment was a slight to Royce and an insult to the people of Grant County and is another example of the backroom politics the voters of Grant County have rejected resoundingly. Far too often we’ve had individuals rise to office based not on merit, but on perceived entitlement or due to their connections. At one time, once in office their re-election was almost guaranteed, not so anymore.”
Whaley said the appointment ultimately has made the local Republican party excited about the 2014 election.
The party already has a strong field of potential candidates and plans to aggressively pursue every elected office, said Whaley.
‘No hard feelings’
Adams, who was a legislator for more than two decades, said he always had a good report with Beshear.
When he decided to throw his name into the hat to replace Linder as magistrate, Adams said he went to talk to the governor to see if he would support him.
Adams said Beshear was noncommittal, but said he would look into it.
Despite not being chosen by the governor for the magisterial appointment, Adams said he has no hard feelings.
“I don’t know what his thinking was and I don’t intend to pursue it,” he said. “They made their choice. I’m sure Wanda will do a good job because she is a sharp gal.”
Adams originally filed in 2012 to run for another term as state representative.
However, he withdrew at the last minute due to health issues.
Although he is recovering from a recent surgery to fix a pinched nerve, Adams said he thought being on fiscal court would not be nearly the physical strain of the long drive and hours a state legislator sometimes deals with.
The local government seat also would have been a good transition from his many years in Frankfort, said Adams.
In the end, Adams said the appointment just wasn’t meant to be.
“It wasn’t a matter of life or death if I did it or not,” he said. “I thought maybe I could help the current fiscal court with the experience I have in Frankfort. So, I put my name in the hopper, so to speak, and I was pleased that the executive committee (nominated me.) I told God, if he wanted me to do it, keep the doors open. If he didn’t want me to do it, then close them. Evidently, he closed them.”
Adams said he has not thought about possibly running for the seat or another political position in the future.
While he cannot provide insight into the governor’s decision to appoint Hammons to his former position, Linder said he is disappointed the decision took so long.
Linder submitted his resignation to the fiscal court in mid-December in an attempt to have a new appointee as quickly as possible.
The two local parties began interviewing candidates and submitting names soon after, however, a decision was not made until two months into the new year.
“It was disappointing that the decision was not made until February given the important matters facing the fiscal court each month,” Linder said.
As for the appointment itself, Linder said he firmly believes those who have oversight of public tax generated funding should be confirmed by voters.
“I believe the voters have spoken clearly on this matter during these last few elections; and, it will be to them to decide again in two years whom they wish to hold the position,” he said. “One of the beauties of democracy is that public elections serve as a practical demonstration of the capacity of people to govern themselves.”
Linder said he has great regard for magistrates Bobby Young and Richard Austin and he hopes the entire court will “proceed on a course of transparency and fiscal responsibility based in the conservative principles that we as voters endorsed in these past elections.”
As she begins her new position as magistrate, Hammons said she wants to urge Grant County residents to contact her with their concerns and issues.
They can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 859-393-8850.
While she knows she may not have received everyone’s vote in recent elections, Hammons said she hopes everyone gives her a chance moving forward.
“I hope to earn the trust of the people by working hard, being honest and giving a voice to people’s issues,” she said. “Not every person I vote for wins an election, however that person is the winner. Therefore, I support them and give them a chance. I hope everyone does the same for me.”