MEET THE CANDIDATES: Four vying for judge-executive seat

Published 3:11 pm Thursday, May 17, 2018

To see the complete special section, click here: Meet the Candidates

Henry Branham, 59

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Party: Democrat

Education: Graduate of George Rogers Clark High School, 1977. Certification from NARDA School of Appliance Retail and Service Management. Certification from NARDA, Freon Technician 1.

Professional background: Retail appliance and electronics, sales and service, 27 years. Serving my 12th year as judge-executive.

Occupation: Clark County judge-executive

Political experience: 7th District Magistrate, Clark County Judge-Executive

Civic involvement: Chamber of Commerce since 1981, Winchester Rotary, Extension District Board- Clark County Board of Health, Gideons International, Clark County Board of Education Finance Committee, Shearer Elementary FRC Board Member, Kentucky Transportation Center Advisory Board, Bluegrass Workforce Area Chief Local Official and member of the Executive Board, Bluegrass Area Development District Board Member and Chair of Regional Transportation Committee in Bluegrass Area.


Liz Elswick, 63

Party: Democrat

Education: Pikeville College

Professional background: I have 30-plus years of experience in county government as deputy county judge.

Occupation: I am currently the chief deputy county clerk

Political experience: I have 30-plus years working in the county judge-executive’s office.

Civic involvement: I have served as a board member at Rose Mary Brooks Place, a board member on the Ky River Foothills district committee, chairman on the Fourth of July Committee and chairman of the Winchester-Clark County Christmas Parade Committee.


Chris Pace, 40

Party: Republican

Education: George Rogers Clark, 1995. Bachelor of Science, EKU 2000. Law Degree, NKU 2004.  

Professional background: Customer service, Kentucky Bank 1996-2001. Teacher, Kaplan Learning Center, 2001-2002.  Attorney, Dixon and Juett, 2005 to present.

Occupation: small businessman/attorney.  

Political experience: Lifelong Republican. Clark County Republican Party 1995 to current. EKU College Republicans 1995-2000. NKU College Republicans 2001-2004. Clark County Young Republicans Chairman, 2007. 6th Congressional District Delegate, Kentucky Young Republicans 2007-2008.  2014 Republican Party nominee for Clark County Clerk. 2016 6th Congressional District Alternate Delegate to nomination of President Trump. Current member and Secretary of Clark County Republican Executive Committee.  I have also volunteered for dozens of conservative causes and Republican candidates, including Sen. Jim Bunning, Larry Forgy and Congressman Andy Barr. 

Civic involvement: Calvary Christian Church. Former president of Winchester Rotary Club. Former president of Clark County Bar Association. Former member of Leeds Center for the Arts. Head coach for Winchester Youth Soccer League. Head Coach for  Winchester Upward Bound basketball.    


Sam Williams, 65

Party: Republican

Education: GRC graduate and earned bachelors of science in civil engineering from University of Kentucky.

Professional background: Licensed professional engineer (civil and mining engineering) and licensed land surveyor.

Occupation: Engineer and land surveyor

Political experience: Clark County surveyor, served on road  and building committees

Civic involvement: 4-H leader, Fair Board member, Boy Scout leader



What will be your top priority if elected to office?

HB: To continue to encourage communication and partnerships to build a strong community to protect services for Clark County citizens.

LE: My top priority will be to unite the local government. The position of county judge-executive is to lead the fiscal court in making good decisions for the people of Clark County. As we have seen in the past few years, there has been more division than bipartisan leadership.

CP: Fixing our sluggish economy, attracting good-paying jobs to Clark County and working to restore Christian values in our community. Our children shouldn’t have to settle for second best. I will strive for something better.

SW: My top priority is to keep Clark County’s unique identity while promoting a safe, economically-vibrant county. I will support our existing businesses and industry by reducing the “red tape” in county government. I will also support our farm economy and promote “value added” agricultural enterprises.

What makes you the best candidate for the job?

HB: My broad experience of small business, county legislative as magistrate, county administration as county treasurer and chief executive officer, chief administrative officer, chief operating officer as county judge-executive; combined with my ability to facilitate communication and partnerships within the community and outside the community.

LE: I began working in the county-judge’s office in 1982 with Judge Jimmy Allen, one of the most knowledgeable and forthright judges in Clark County’s history. Under his leadership, I learned the working knowledge of county government. My experience, judgment, knowledge, leadership abilities and transparency.

CP: Unlike my opponents, I am not a government bureaucrat and I have never been part of the liberal bureaucracy. I am the only candidate without a large government retirement to pad.  That’s why I am the only candidate who really believes in smaller, more efficient government. A real conservative Republican. 

SW: I have served in the U.S. Army Reserves and the U.S. Navy, and worked as civil engineer and land surveyor designing and building residential and commercial developments, roads and bridges.

I have managed the maintenance and repair (over 25 million annually) of city/county street and road infrastructure.

What professional/political accomplishments are you most proud of in your life?

HB: The ability to serve in my home community and see measurable progress.

LE: I have no political accomplishments since I do not consider myself to be a politician. I am a citizen that is seeking the office of county judge-executive. My experience of 30-plus years in the same position is the accomplishment in which I am most proud.

CP: It took a long time to realize, but I am uncomfortable with “taking pride,” because accomplishments are only a reflection of the Lord working through me. I care about people.  I treat folks the same and stay involved in the community whether there is an election going on or not.    

SW: I was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for my work on the overhaul of the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. My leadership, engineering education and practical experience was used to design and build a retrofit of Dry Dock No. 5.

What is the biggest challenge our community faces? How would you address it?

HB: The breakdown of families which causes bad situations for our children and youth. Building community partnerships, this problem is bigger than one person or group to handle. It takes a community effort.

LE: I feel our community’s biggest challenge is the drug problem, along with the crimes and heartaches associated with it. We need enhanced penalties for drug traffickers and drug users and more opportunities for mandatory rehabilitation. We must be diligent in order to stop this problem.

CP: Lack of hope. Our current leadership simply isn’t aggressive enough to recruit the employers we need, or else they would have done it already.  People are giving up. A leader is more than just a friendly face.  I will get things done and make you proud of Clark County again. 

SW: By far the biggest challenge that faces Clark County is the opioid/drug epidemic. We lost my son, Stewart, last October to a drug overdose. I will diligently seek federal and state help to gain additional support for our local efforts to make Clark County the leader in eradicating drug dependency.

Other comments?

HB: We have worked for the past 14 years to build a strong government for Clark County citizens, we cannot afford to begin slipping back into past habits and processes.

LE: My goal is to make Clark County a growing, safe and friendly community where anyone would be proud to live. We must be able to work together in all aspects, regardless of political indifference, to accomplish these goals. I would appreciate your support and vote on May 22.

CP: If you think liberal values and policies are working, my opponent has extensive experience in the liberal bureaucracy and will do a fine job continuing those policies. If you want real change, someone who deplores big government, I am asking for your vote.  Working together, we can change Clark County. 

SW: Clark County gave me the basis for success. As Clark County judge-executive, I will strive to make Clark County the best place to work, live and raise your family in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.