Fayette, Jefferson County Judge-Executives Have Different Ideas About Their Offices

by Gabe Bullard on February 24, 2011

The two least powerful judge-executives in Kentucky are at odds over whether their offices should still exist.

The Fayette County executive says his position should be eliminated, while the Jefferson County executive sees some usefulness to his job.

The mergers in Lexington and Louisville stripped the judge-executive offices of their power, and handed the duties to the mayor’s office. The Fayette County judge-executive has asked state lawmakers to amend the constitution and eliminate his position.

“I see this as a political fight going on in Lexington. Constitutional amendments should be reserved for important issues that affect people’s quality of life and happiness,” says Jefferson County Judge-Executive Brian Matthews. He wants his office to be modernized and empowered, not eliminated.

“We are a big city now, so the mayor’s office needs to be talking to mayors of Chicago and Nashville and the president and let the judge executive handle our fellow counties, our neighbors,” he says.

Matthews does not have a budget for his office. He doesn’t draw a city salary and he doesn’t have any official duties. His predecessor, Ken Herndon, says the office could be more powerful if the judge-executive and mayor decided to share certain responsibility.

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