I’m running for magistrate, not homecoming queen

My ruuning shoes.

I am running for magistrate, not homecoming queen.

That is a sentence I never thought I would write at age 56, in the Year of our Lord 2022, but it was the answer to a question posed by a man I do not know—“Are you ladies running for the homecoming court?”—after he saw how many women are running for office in Anderson County.

Also of note: I am a progressive Democrat, running as a Republican in the Republican primary.

While this may shock many of you, it is no surprise my fellow Anderson Countians, even if my speaking openly about it is. Today, in the Kroger checkout line, a fellow Democrat asked what I was running for, then said she and her husband had changed their registration, too.

Several of our current elected officials used to be registered Democrats. Not anymore. The man who was my magistrate when I moved here in 2015 was a Democrat, but he lost his next race and is now a registered Republican, running against me and two other men to try and win his old seat back.

This is common here. Why is it happening?

Anderson County, which leaned Democrat a decade ago, voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020. The tide has not only turned, the tide often presents—if you regularly attend local public meetings as I do—as deeply conspiratorial and filled with “my own research” about CRT, masks, vaccines, election integrity, gun rights, etc.

And the tide is not so much Republican as Trumplican, an exposition of the down-ballot turmoil Trump and his Big Lie acolytes have set in motion.

I first began considering a run for magistrate or school board—the two offices where I think I could best help my community—after attending a December 18 town hall at the Anderson Library, hosted by Rep. James Tipton and Sen. Adrienne Southworth.

Approximately 20 people attended. I sat across from the man who (allegedly, accidentally) brought a handgun to one of our recent school board meetings. One woman insisted we learn more about the corrupt Dr. Fauci. A woman in back, her voice shaking, said we could get any covid medicines we wanted by going to a website and paying $30; she seemed angry that some of her family members were not listening to her medical advice. One man insisted he would not go to the hospital if he had covid, or even if he had a broken leg, that he would rather die at home. Others said, what are you doing in Frankfort to defend our freedom?!

And to most all of this, Rep. Tipton and Sen. Southworth replied with avoidance, with: Thank you, I see another hand over here, do you have a question?

I left that meeting stunned. How could elected officials listen to nonsense, some of it dangerous, for an hour and a half and say next to nothing?

I left that meeting thinking: We need normal people with the courage to call lies, lies and conspiracies, conspiracies, to run for every office.

I left that meeting thinking: Why not me? I have never run for office. Any office. Never even considered it. But here I am.

What chance do I have of winning a Republican primary? The obstacles are many. I am a proud, opinionated, outspoken progressive and will remain so. I am appalled everything Donald Trump represents. I was not born and raised in Anderson County, or even Kentucky, so I do not have a network of childhood friends or family to rally around me. I am a woman, running against three men, two of whom have already served as magistrate.

And yet, I am going to give this my best shot. I am not afraid to lose and hope I win! I am not running to espouse ideology, which has zero to do with being a magistrate. I am running because normal people who want to serve their communities should not be afraid to run.

As someone who has long-admired American Civil Rights hero John Lewis, I consider his oft-repeated quote. “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

And good, necessary trouble this is, even if it does not end with me wearing a Homecoming crown.