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With Sheriff Tommy Bartley stepping down as Washington County Sheriff at the end of the year, three candidates are vying for the position, two of which will go head-to-head in next week’s primary election.
Jerry Pinkston and Bill Hill are squaring off to see who moves on from the Democratic party to meet Jim Crouch in November’s general election.
Both candidates are lifelong Washington County residents and emphasized that if they were to step in as Washington County’s next sheriff, they want to be as transparent as possible to make the community comfortable coming to them with any of their needs.
“The primary responsibility of the sheriff is to maintain the office, make sure taxes are being collected, maintain law and order and show himself in public to let the county know who their sheriff is and that he’s involved,” Pinkston said.
Hill was unable to be contacted on multiple attempts, but stated at last month’s political forum at St. Catharine Motherhouse that one of his primary objectives heading into the race for sheriff is to make sure the office is as accessible as possible so that local citizens can stop by and express concerns.
Pinkston — who has been married to his wife, Patty, for 32 years and has three children and two grandchildren — currently works as a deputy under Bartley and said he has been a farmer all his life and has also spent time as a diesel mechanic. He got his first taste of law enforcement as court security at the courthouse in Springfield before transitioning to the sheriff’s office in 2010.
He said he’s received specialized training that ranges from animal cruelty to school shootings and that he’s spent much of his time working the roads the last few years, which has led to him getting to know the community much better. That experience has led to zero tolerance for Pinkston when it comes to people getting behind the wheel after drinking.
“I enforce DUIs very rigorously,” he said. “I don’t have any tolerance for anybody drinking and driving.”
Hill, who was raised in the Manton area, said he learned the value of hard work by growing up on the family farm, as well as his time in the Army reserve immediately following high school. He’s owned a concrete construction business for roughly 10 years.
Hill has previously spent time with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, joining the staff in 2008. He said entering the police academy over the age of 40 was a challenging experience, but one that showed him what he’s capable of.
He added that the role he enjoyed most during his time in law enforcement was working with students in Washington County.
“Probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done is being a DARE instructor, which I did for two years,” he said. “I got back more from the kids than they ever got from me. It was probably the most rewarding and satisfying thing I’ve done in my life.”
Hill reiterated his stance against drug use in the area, stating that his main goal in the office of sheriff would be to stem drug use in the area. A particular area of concern, he said, is eradicating the cheap drugs from the community that are easily produced and distributed, like meth.
Pinkston said one of his goals will be to work with other law enforcement entities to make Washington County as safe as possible.
“It’s very important,” he said of working with other agencies. “I’ve already talked to Jim Smith and we believe we can work together. I already know his officers and they know us, and working as team wouldn’t be a problem. In times of need we need to be unilateral and help one another.”
Pinkston also said he’s been in contact with members of Kentucky State Police, and has made it known that he’d like to see a greater presence in the county from KSP.
The primary election is this coming Tuesday (May 20). At the local level, the office of sheriff, county clerk and three magistrate seats will be contested.