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Fifth District magistrate files as Democratic candidate for Nelson Co. judge executive

Eric Shelburne shares a light moment with Mark Etheredge after Shelburne completed his filing as a candidate for judge executive. Shelburne credited Etheredge for being a mentor during his time as a lineman working for the City of Bardstown.

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Friday, Nov. 19, 2021 — Eric Shelburne, currently the elected magistrate representing the county’s fifth magisterial district, filed Friday afternoon as a Democrat for the office of Nelson County judge executive.

The 49-year-old Bloomfield resident is completing his first term as a magistrate, and said he’s been considering a run for the office ever since Judge Executive Dean Watts announced in January he would not seek re-election in 2022.

Shelburne said he will use the experience he’s gained as magistrate and continue to build on the foundation Watts has built in Nelson County government over the past 30 years.

“I think I’ll be a fair minded, common-sense candidate to represent the county as a whole with equity,” he said. He is a candidate who wants to work with both the incorporated cities and the unincorporated parts of the county.

ROLE AS LPC CHAIRMAN. Shelburne has been in the news recently in his role as chair of the Nelson County Schools’ Local Planning Committee — a role he said he was initially advised to avoid.

However, his constituents in the county’s Fifth District asked him to participate.

“I came into it with an open mind,” he said. “My vote will tell you that I didn’t think [the final District Facilites Plan] was a good idea.”

Shelburne said like the LPC, he believes the people’s voices should be heard in Nelson Fiscal Court.

However, in the case of the LPC, “I think the people were heard, but I don’t think they were listened to.”

FUTURE GROWTH, EYE ON BUDGET. Shelburne said if elected, he’ll keep a watchful eye on the growing budget needs of the Nelson County Jail, EMS and the sheriff’s office.

“We have to look where our industrial growth is going to be,” he said. “We’re in a perfect spot geographically to support some of those jobs that will be part of Ford’s new plants in Hardin County.”

In regard to residential growth, he said he would like to see the county’s comprenhensive plan allow for residential growth where the infrastructure to support that growth already exisits.

He pledged that he will work with fiscal court to do what’s best for the whole of Nelson County.

INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT. The government has an important role in economic development, though he admitted that government investment in development industrial land “is always a gamble financially.”

“But its a topic you have to address to insure the growth of jobs” in the county.

He said he would be in favor of a partnership between the City of Bardstown and the county to develop property for new industrial growth if necessary to make it happen.

TAXES, MANAGING EXPENSES. Shelburne said he’s aware of Watts’ warnings that a future judge and fiscal court will eventually have to address the need for additional county revenue as expenses continue to increase annually.

Shelburne said he plans to continue to maintain a balance between expenses and services to avoid raising taxes. He said he will look to his magistrates as a “think tank” for formulating ways to manage costs.

Shelburne said his motivation in running for judge executive “is sincere.”

He says he is a candidate with a genuine desire to serve the county and do the right thing.

“And I think that can be done in an organized, calm, manner,” he said.

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