The following statement by McCracken County Judge-Executive Van Newberry was released Monday night:
After much consideration and many conversations with my wife, family and friends, I have decided not to seek re-election as McCracken County Judge-Executive.
I am proud of my hard work and accomplishments over the last eight years. Under my leadership, property taxes have been lowered. I have put more emphasis on public safety and as a result we have seen crime rates drop. I have worked hard to create new jobs in our community, and we are seeing good results. Between new companies locating here and the expansion of existing businesses, we are seeing or will be seeing over 1,200 new jobs in McCracken County. I have reduced bureaucracy and "red tape" in County government and have streamlined regulations that had been stifling development. I have pushed for and helped create new opportunities in education for generations to come with the Murray State University project and the scholarship program that is now available for our middle school students in McCracken County. These two projects will help pay the bill for our children to go to school for two years at West Kentucky Community and Technical College and also allow many of our citizens to receive advanced degrees right here in McCracken County. I believe these two projects will pay economic development benefits for our community for decades.
Judge-Executives should take clear positions on issues and they should never straddle political fences. For example, I helped lead the opposition to the city-county merger and this issue was overwhelmingly rejected by the citizens of McCracken County. I have put a stop to unethical practices in county government, such as the wrongful paying out of unearned sick and vacation time to elected officials when they left office. I have refused to look the other way or "sweep under the rug" the wrongful conduct of elected county officials that refuse to come to work or were running their offices under secret policies that have cost the taxpayers of this county millions of dollars in unnecessary expenses. I have looked out for the interests of the citizens of McCracken County, even when it would have been politically wiser to look the other way. I have not been a "politician" nor do I ever intend to become one.
Our community is facing several real and serious issues.
For example, we have to replace the job losses at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Finding new missions that will create new, good paying jobs for this industrial complex should be a high priority for any McCracken County Judge-Executive.
We are spending nearly $2 million dollars per year for our 911 dispatch center. We may have an opportunity to cut those costs in half by partnering with the state police.
Another possible partnership is the one with the local Humane Society. If the Humane Society can guarantee the high adoption rates and low euthanasia rates that we have achieved with the county shelter, this potential partnership should be considered.
Another issue is simply the ongoing challenge of keeping taxes as low as possible while maintaining the services we currently have in McCracken County. Constant proper stewardship of the taxpayers' monies is a full-time job.
I now face trial in early 2015 for something I did not do. I look forward to this trial and my acquittal. It is not fair to the voters for this issue to be a distraction when we have real and serious issues to deal with.
I applaud anyone who is willing to step up and take on the task of the county judge-executive. It is not an easy job! If you do this job right, 50-60 hour weeks are much more common than 40 hour weeks. This job requires a huge commitment and will take time away from your family and friends. So, I wish the best of luck to whoever is in this position on January 1, 2015.
I will continue to serve the citizens of this great county and I can think of no better way to serve out the remainder of my term than to devote my energy and attention to these challenges.