Sunday, October 07, 2001

Hughes aims for judge-executive post

Election fight in Kenton set

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT MITCHELL — Calling for a new generation of leadership, Fort Wright Democrat Patrick Hughes formally kicked off his campaign for Kenton County judge-executive.

        Mr. Hughes, a 32-year-old lawyer, made the announcement Friday afternoon before a roomful of supporters at the Fort Mitchell Holiday Inn.

        “Now is the time that I have chosen to step up and build on the accomplishments of our parents and work to ensure the future for our children,” Mr. Hughes said. “I also believe that it's time for a new vision in Kenton County.”

        Mr. Hughes “is very bright, he is committed to his family, he has succeeded in private business and he has excellent experience at the highest levels of the executive branch of (state) government,” said U.S. Rep. Ken Lucas, a Democrat who served two terms as Boone County judge-executive before being elected to Congress.

        Mr. Hughes has been active in local and state politics but has never run for office. He is taking on a more-experienced and better-known politician in Republican Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd, who served in the Kentucky House of Representatives before being elected to the county's highest office in 1998.

        Mr. Murgatroyd said in a statement released Friday night that anticipation of Mr. Hughes' announcement has inspired his supporters and contributors. The campaign has raised $115,000 so far, he said.

        “It's clear there is one of us who has a lifetime of community service and will talk positively about the future of Kenton County while the other will run around the county crying that the sky is falling,” Mr. Murgatroyd said.

        “I trust the judgment of the voters to stay the course for a brighter future,” he said.

        During his campaign announcement, Mr. Hughes said his platform will include economic development, enhancing county parks, improving transportation and county roads and improving relationships with cities and the state.

        He questioned the leadership of Mr. Murgatroyd, who has been criticized over votes for three tax increases, support for an increase in sewer rates and the location of a new county jail.

        “There is one important ingredient we still need in Kenton County, leadership,” Mr. Hughes said. “I will actively seek community input and most importantly, I will listen to people before making a decision.”

        Mr. Murgatroyd and the county fiscal court stirred controversy when they selected, and then abandoned, jail sites in Elsmere and Covington before seeking input from the communities.

        Kenton County Republican Party Chairman Greg Shumate, co-chair of Mr. Murgatroyd's campaign, said the GOP will run a positive campaign.

        “The focus of the message of Judge-executive Murgatroyd is necessarily a positive one, concentrating on all that is good in Kenton County,” Mr. Shumate said.

        Mr. Hughes is the son of Terry Hughes, the longtime city engineer of Covington.

        He attended Covington Latin High School. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati and the University of Kentucky law school, he worked for the Kentucky Finance Cabinet for nearly four years. He joined the Crestview Hills law firm of Deters, Benzinger and LaVelle four years ago.

        He and his wife, Kathleen, have two small children and belong to St. Agnes parish in Fort Wright.

        Last year, Mr. Hughes was elected chairman of the Kenton County Democratic Party, a position he is relinquishing to concentrate on his campaign. The party is searching for a successor.

        There was speculation earlier this year that Edgewood Democrat Mark Guilfoyle, a partner in Mr. Hughes' law firm, was going to challenge Mr. Murgatroyd.

        Instead, Mr. Guilfoyle is serving as one Mr. Hughes' top campaign advisers.

        Mr. Hughes did not say Friday how much money he has raised but indicated that the amount would be released this week.


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