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Gritton vies for open state rep seat

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By Meaghan Downs

The other two candidates he’ll face in the primary election — current school board member Donna Drury and former state representative Kent Stevens — are as equally qualified as he is for the open 53rd District seat, fellow candidate Stewart Gritton said.
Voters will have a tough choice during the May primary election, he said, but he hopes voters in all three counties he’d represent will take a strong look at his experience and dedication to move the 53rd District forward.  
“I have knowledge of county government and been involved locally,” Gritton, who previously ran for state agriculture commissioner and served two terms as fiscal court magistrate, said Thursday morning. “I feel like I have a keen knowledge of Anderson County’s needs and problems facing them.”
If elected as the state representative for Anderson, Spencer and two precincts in Bullitt County, Gritton said his agenda would focus on local and state issues such as education, agriculture and eminent domain.
Gritton said one of his first priorities as state representative would be to ensure funding levels were adequate for students in his district.
In agreement with Governor Steve Beshear’s budget proposal to restore Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) state aid funding to its 2008 levels, Gritton said he’d also address providing newer textbooks for students.
Gritton said he’s also agrees with the governor’s proposal to find revenue through expanded gambling and a restructuring of the tax code to fund increases in education.
“I think expanded gambling should be put on the ballot so that, for once and for all, we can let the people decide,” Gritton said. “We’ve been debating this issue for probably 20 years and I don’t understand why the legislature won’t let it get out and put it on the ballot.”
Gritton said he’d work with local school boards to achieve his education goals, but also wants to sit down one-on-one with teachers and find out what their concerns and needs are.
“Cutting resources to school systems has an effect on the education of our children,” he said. “I think it’s appalling that teachers have to take money from their own pockets to pay for classroom supplies.”
Continued learning is important to Gritton, who said his education primarily came from life experience, being involved in the community and extensive reading.
Anyone working in agriculture needs to be educated on a variety of subjects, he said, because farmers often also have to be veterinarians, businessmen and even etymologists.
Gritton operates a small-scale former dairy farm in Anderson County, he said, and raises about 10-15 head of cattle each year.
Gritton, who spent more than 17 years working for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, said agriculture is integral to not only the district’s economy, but the state economy as well.
While working for the agriculture department, Gritton said he spent much of his time working with state 4-H and FFA youth and helped to develop the Department of Kentucky Agriculture scholarship.
Overseeing 108 county fairs during his career, Gritton said he worked with state Rep. Tom McKee (D-Cynthiana) to get the county fair grant program passed through the legislature in 2004 and provide $495,000 for Kentucky county fair programs.
He’d use his time as state representative to continue to support farmers and other members of the agricultural industry, Gritton said.
“We’ve become a society where the people are several generations now from the farm,” he said, “but a lot of our urban friends don’t realize that agriculture is one of the largest industries in practically every county in Kentucky, including Anderson County.”
Gritton said he also feels strongly about eminent domain and is opposed to non-governmental agencies taking private land away from residents.
Although Gritton said he is not directly affected by the Bluegrass Pipeline’s plans to build a pipeline carrying natural gas liquids through several Kentucky counties, he is opposed to any attempt to install the pipeline by using eminent domain.
“However I don’t think it’s right that non-government agencies would have the right to condemn land for their own use,” Gritton said. “I would certainly be opposed to eminent domain under those circumstances.”
Gritton also discussed his goals to ensure the county continues to receive road funding and being open to opportunities to provide incentives to attract industries and revenue to the 53rd District.
He said he’d be attending several scheduled events in Spencer County during March, and plans to be available to speak with voters during the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce Expo to be held Saturday, March 22 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Eagle Lake Convention Center.

Meet Stewart Gritton
Stewart Gritton, born and raised in Anderson County, spent 17 years working for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and retired in 2010.
Gritton previously ran for agriculture commissioner and served two terms as fiscal court magistrate: one term as First District magistrate from 1981-1985 and a second term for the Third District from 1989-1993.
Gritton has a daughter, Stephanie Stratton, and a son, Ashley Gritton. He also has three grandchildren, Chelsey and Sydney Stratton and Adam Gritton.
He graduated Anderson County High School in 1970, and took several courses at Kentucky State University.
He’s currently the vice president of the Anderson County Farm Bureau and serves on the Anderson County Extension board. He served on the Soil Conservation board for 16 years and was the past president of the Anderson County Dairy Herd Improvement Association.
Gritton is also a member of First Baptist Church, and says he still farms on a small scale and will raise about 10-15 head of cattle this year.
To contact Gritton, call 502-418-0488 or email stewartgritton52@gmail.com.