Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Meet the three Republicans who want to replace Warren County's top official

 The Warren County Courthouse in downtown Bowling Green
Warren County Courthouse in downtown Bowling Green

Tuesday's primary election in Kentucky features three Republicans vying for a
chance to become Warren County’s next judge-executive.

The seat is open for the first time in nearly three decades with the retirement of Republican Mike Buchanon. His hand-picked candidate is First District Magistrate Doug Gorman. He was endorsed by Buchanon early in the race, but Gorman says he’s not taking anything for granted.

Doug Gorman/Facebook
Doug Gorman

Gorman has been campaigning on his experience as a former small business owner who understands the needs of the region, one of those being a workforce at full complement.

“We have to find and bring back pride in work," Gorman told WKU Public Radio. "There is a job for everyone, and I just personally believe in self-determination and people taking care of their families, getting a job, having pride in that.”

The ten-county region that includes Warren County has about 8,000 open jobs, according to the South Central Workforce Development Board. Many of those vacancies have gone unfilled since the pandemic.

Jack Wright FB

Another candidate in the judge-executive's race is Jack Wright, who is also no stranger to county government. An engineer by trade, he spent 17 years in Public Works leading the stormwater division.

Wright is from Woodburn and is making his third run for public office, having campaigned in the past for PVA and magistrate.

Improving workforce participation would also be one of his priorities if elected judge-executive. Wright says Warren County is ripe with industries.

“We really need to emphasize to students coming out of high school, they have an option besides college," stated Wright. "There’s nothing against college, but make sure students are aware of the fact they have some really good choices.”

Joanna Jones

White is joined in the race by Joanna Jones, a former Marine and now business consultant from Plum Springs. She’s making her first run for public office and describes herself as a Moderate Republican.

She too is concerned by the number of unfilled positions in Warren and surrounding counties. Home to a university and trade school, Jones says Warren County has the resources to educate and train workers.

“The thing I think we should focus on too is, some of the local officials and politicians have spoken on good-paying jobs," said Jones. "I wish they would define what a good-paying job is because sometimes 15 dollars an hour isn’t going to cut it, even full-time, for somebody with a family.”

Growing the workforce is something all three GOP candidates agree will be a challenge for the next judge-executive.

Another is managing the soaring growth Warren County has experienced during Buchanon’s time in office.

The area has exploded in population from less than 80,000 in 1990 to about 135,000 today.

“We need to hang on to our culture and maintain who we are as Bowling Green," commented Jones. "We have that small town mentality or mindset, and its kind of been ruined by over-development, I think.”

Wright adds the county’s infrastructure hasn’t kept up with the growth in population and industries.

“The word infrastructure is used a lot, but I think just flat out, our roads. We have a lot of roads in need of repair," said Wright. "We have a lot of subdivisions aging where we need to replace the pavement, and those are large capital expenditures.”

Some projections have Warren County growing from its current population of 135,000 to 200,000 by the year 2050.

Gorman says while most Kentucky counties are losing population, Warren County is in a growth spurt.

“I say to people sometimes if you like your view in Warren County, you should buy it. It’s impossible to say it’s gonna be that way forever," commented Gorman. "The biggest challenge for magistrates is always growth. How are we doing it, but we need public input about the type of county we want to have in the future.”

The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Keith Evanoff in November’s general election.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.