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January surprise: Chambers files for judge-executive

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'New Anderson Republican' vows to fix budget, deliver industry, jobs

By BEN CARLSON

A stunning, last-second filing has thrown wide open the race for Anderson County judge-executive.

Chip Chambers, the county’s highway supervisor, shocked the county’s political establishment by filing for this November’s general election late Tuesday afternoon at the Anderson County Courthouse. Chambers, a Republican, filed his paperwork about an hour before the official filing period ended.

In doing so, he became the only Republican to file for the office and now will face the winner of May’s Democratic primary between incumbent judge-executive Steve Cornish and Magistrate John Wayne Conway, along with an independent candidate, Donna Drury.

Almost as shocking as his last-second filing was Chambers’ saying that he did not seek endorsement of the county’s Republican Party establishment before making his decision.

“I’m a new Anderson County Republican,” said Chambers, a graduate of Anderson County High School. “I have not been approached by the Republican Party, but I certainly will encourage and accept their support. It’s time for the Anderson County Republican Party to get things done.”

Chambers said he waited until the last minute because he wanted to ensure that, given his appointment as highway supervisor, he could legally file for judge-executive.

“I had a lot of people approach me about this,” he said. “But I didn’t want to make a rash decision and wanted to make sure I could stay on as road supervisor, which is a job I take great pride in.

“I’m also a single father of two young men, and part of this is about me providing for their future and the future of Anderson County.

Chambers pulled no punches on why he is running for office. He said he’s weary of watching the fiscal court battle over how much money the county does nor does not have, along with what he says is its inability to attract jobs and industry.

“Just during last week’s fiscal court meeting we learned that the county is facing a potential $385,000 budget deficit,” said Chambers, adding that he’s missed only a handful of fiscal court meetings in the past six years.

“When I’m in office, we are going to get to the bottom of that problem, fix it and move forward. I want the citizens of Anderson County to finally understand how their money is being spent, and we are going to straighten out this situation.

“In a perfect world, I would opt to lower taxes which would stimulate the economy and create new jobs. But I can tell you right now that I will not support creating any new taxes.”

Once the county’s budget issues are solved, Chambers said his top priority would be to restore Anderson County’s standing and do whatever is necessary to attract jobs and industry.

“We are going to bring in jobs,” Chambers said. “It was reported recently that Anderson County was in the bottom third of the state in unemployment. We’re not eastern Kentucky. We’re 10 miles from Frankfort and bordered by [Interstate] 64 and the Bluegrass Parkway.

“We’re special. We’re Anderson County, and we can do better than that.”

Chambers said he intends with local businesses and experts to help bring industry to Anderson County.

“The first thing we need to do is figure out our financial situation so the realtors in this county can start selling homes that are for sale, not just the foreclosed homes on the courthouse steps,” Chambers said.

“I want to play a key roll in supporting local businesses and their economic growth through alliances with groups such as the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s time to bring Anderson County out of the 1970s and into the new millennium where it belongs.”

Chambers said ongoing divisions between magistrates and the judge-executive would end if he were elected.

“I modernized the county highway department and I can unite the fiscal court,” he said.

Chambers acknowledged that running for judge-executive while simultaneously serving as the fiscal court’s appointed highway supervisor will generate speculation that he could campaign while on the job.

That will not happen, he said.

“I absolutely will not campaign during my administrative hours between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday,” he said.

Chambers also acknowledged that running as a Republican in Democrat-heavy Anderson County won’t be easy, although the county has elected Republican judge-executives in the past.

“I think the people of this county want the right person for this job, regardless if they a D or R next to their name,” he said. “My campaign slogan is ‘Get With Chip,’ and I’m hoping that people, regardless of their party, will join me in making Anderson County a better place to live.

“What people really need to ask themselves is if they are better off now than they were three years ago.

“If not, I ask for their votes because we can do better.”

E-mail Ben Carlson at bcarlson@theandersonnews.com.