• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Candidates for jailer, magistrate likely disqualified

Separate lawsuits filed last week in Woodford Circuit Court seeking to have candidates for Woodford Jailer and 8th District Magistrate declared ineligible will not go to court after the defendants acknowledged the merits of the cases. Melissa Coulter, et al., vs. Bernie Dale Stevens, et al., claims that Stevens, a Democrat, is not a bona fide candidate for jailer because his declaration of candidacy did not include signatures of two registered voters of the same party. According to the suit, Ross Raterman has been registered as a Libertarian since July 2014.

Stevens told The Sun that Raterman said he thought he’d switched his party affiliation to Democrat.

“When we went to sign my papers, he had told me he was a Democrat, and it turned out he wasn’t, and now I’m out of the race. It was just an honest mistake,” Stevens said.

The other suit, Jackie W. Brown (the incumbent 8th District Magistrate) vs. Michael A. Garkovich, et al., claims Garkovich is not a bona fide candidate for that seat because one of his two witnesses, Lorraine E. Garkovich, lives in the 7th Magisterial District.

Garkovich said he hadn’t known of the lawsuit until The Sun called him Monday. Afterwards, he checked the county government’s website and learned that Lorraine Garkovich (better known as Lori, his sister) had been redistricted and was thus ineligible to sign his filing papers.

“I apologize to the county and to (County Clerk) Sandra Jones for the time they took filing my application,” said Garkovich.

He said his sister hasn’t moved and still votes at the same precinct, but said the county’s website made it clear she lives in a different magisterial district.

Stevens and Garkovich said they won’t challenge the suits against them.

In September of 2014, a similar lawsuit against then-7th District Magistrate Mark McDonald was decided too late to remove him from the ballot, but the ruling prevented votes for him from being counted. That outcome will likely be the case for Stevens and Garkovich.

Stevens is the only candidate who filed to run against incumbent Woodford County Jailer Michele Rankin, also a Democrat. Brown has one other opponent, Thomas Moungey, in the Democratic primary for the 8th District Magistrate’s seat.


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