By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Two incumbents kept their seats on Boone County's Soil and Water Conservation District board in Tuesday's election.
The fight to get on the board - and about how Boone County should or should not regulate its land and water use - was intense in this election.
Ed Moore received 6,943 votes and Mike Keller, 6,622. Sarah Drew, a student seeking a master's degree in environmental science, took the third seat up for grabs with 6,191 votes.
Despite the race's nonpartisan designation, the top vote-getter interpreted it as a mandate for the GOP.
"The Republican Party has been vindicated," Mr. Moore said. "We proved the point that Paul Patton doesn't have the golden Midas touch in Boone County. In four years, we'll be back and take the county clerk's seat, too."
The district is a local unit of government responsible for implementing comprehensive programs to protect soil, water and other natural resources.
Mr. Patton is a proponent of a "Smart Growth" proposal for the state. The "Smart Growth" plan includes plans for farmland preservation that have been controversial at board meetings.
The district has seen plenty of controversy in recent years, with disputes over the possible state purchase of development rights for land preservation.
That issue led to Chairwoman Linda Arlinghaus' resignation in 2001.
On the other side of that dispute were Bernie Kunkel and David Kuchle, whose spots are not up for election this year. The two men are members of the League of Kentucky Property Owners.
The activist group opposes government involvement in land use and environmental issues. They have voted down many board proposals in recent years.
State law requires that a conservation district board exist in each of Kentucky's 120 counties.
In Boone County, however, where population surged 49.3 percent between 1990 and 2000, growth and how to manage its impact on the formerly rural county has made the board a focal point.
The race, for an obscure board, was heated, drawing eight candidates, including banker Lee McNeely of Burlington, who is a member of several bird-watching groups, and Debra Franks, a member of the Boone County Board of Human Services.
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