Five Republicans are competing for Boyd County jailer in the GOP primary.
The candidates are listed in order of ballot positions in May.
• Dusty Hughes, 38, is a former Boyd County Sheriff’s deputy and a political newcomer running on the Republican ticket.
Hughes is a certified law enforcement officer through the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice training programs. He graduated from Morehead State University with a bachelor’s in education of middle grades, math and social studies.
Hughes said he left the sheriff’s department as a result of an injury he sustained in the line of duty. He said he feels he’s qualified to be the next jailer as a result of his career path.
“I am qualified to be the next jailer because of my unique work experience and my commitment to our county, as well as my unwavering faith. My experience as a teacher shaped my dedication to helping others by teaching, through healing. I believe in helping others who have made bad choices in life. My time as a Boyd County Deputy shows that I enforce the laws enacted by our judicial system, without compromise. My track record shows that I'm dedicated to performing the duties of jailer, while treating others with the respect they deserve. My faith guides me in every aspect of my life; it’s the glue that binds my principles and ethics to always do what is right, even if it is not popular or easy. I will approach the job everyday with the same integrity, honesty, and hard work that I have valued and demonstrated my entire life.
Hughes said he would focus on more training and better security to improve jail operations if elected.
“I will implement training for all employees, and put new security policies in place. Constant overcrowding has created an unsafe environment at BCDC, putting needless strain on manpower and resources. In addition to overcrowding, the lack of respect shown to inmates and employees by current leadership has directly led to unsafe conditions,” said Hughes. “Short term goals include a pay increase for employees, full staffing, updated camera systems, and a full body scanner to stop drugs from entering our jail. Long-term goals include updated security features, a new fence to deter inmate escapes, stopping the reliance on state inmates to fund other monetary obligations for the county, and eyes toward a new facility in the future. I will operate BCDC with transparency, focusing on changes to restore faith and integrity to Boyd County with the emphasis on people and safety, not for profit, as it is currently.”
• Mark Conley, a retired state Department of Corrections administrator, said he has the management skills necessary to run the jail.
Conley, 49, worked for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, and has job experience in medical and safety sales. He has a Bachelor of Science in sports medicine.
Conley said he feels he is the most qualified candidate for the jailer job.
“I feel I’m the candidate possessing the administrative experience in corrections needed to build infrastructure in our county jail that has been broken for way too long,” said Conley. “My knowledge is vast. I am proficient in overseeing the intake, care, transfer of inmates, and hiring/dismissing employees. Other qualifications are preparing schedules, assignments, staff training, evaluations, disciplinary action, resolving problems, overseeing medical care for inmates and addressing inmate grievance.”
Conley said he would bring experience pertaining to compliance regulations needed for state and federal guidelines to the jailer’s office if elected. He said he is “proficient in recordkeeping of population demographics and history of inmates,” and maintaining financial records, budgets, inventory accountability, payroll, accounts and investigating incidents.
“I know how to get the job done. I’ve done it before at the state levels. You’ll enjoy the positive changes we will make,” Conley said. “Staff will get on board or be replaced. It has to come down to that. No more negativity and disrespect. The good ole boy system has to go. Why vote for someone who hasn’t done the job before? I have.”
Conley said his multi-step plan to improve the jail would include a better security system, compliance training he conducts himself and an increase in revenue by working to return to housing federal inmates at the jail. He said the jail would provide more religious services, and promote better hygiene, medical and cultural diversity.
• Boyd County Constable Tim Woods, 51, is running for jailer after spending the bulk of his career as a first responder.
A retired Boyd County Paramedic captain, Woods spent 20 years as a paramedic in Boyd County, including time as a member of the Boyd County Ambulance Board and a member of the East Fork Fire Protection District.
Woods previously worked as a tactical paramedic with the Ashland Police Department and Boyd County Sheriff’s Department, and was a special deputy sheriff under former Sheriff Phillip Sturgill, as well as a Greenup city police officer.
Woods is a graduate of Boyd County High School and Eastern Kentucky University.
He has served as constable in Boyd County District No. 1 since 2010.
Woods is the brother of Boyd County Sheriff Bobby Jack Woods.
Tim Woods listed several of his work experiences as qualifications for his candidacy, including his training at Heckler & Koch Tactical School in Virginia, and his certification from the U.S. Department of Defense in Counter Narcotics and Terrorists Medical Support.
He said he would work to run a safe and fiscally responsible jail if elected.
“For over 35 years I have given myself as a public servant, and the experience and that I have gained through working with people, supervising others and being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers, I will bring those qualities to the office of jailer. I believe in firm but fair regulations, transparent accountability, and compassionate leadership. We will work with federal, state, and local agencies to lessen the burden on taxpayers to ensure a fiscally responsible, transparent, and efficient, secure, correctional facility.”
• Ashland Police Major William “Bill” Hensley believes his “education, experience, knowledge, personal values, work ethic, and community relations give me the abilities to be a professional and ethical jailer.”
His education includes a bachelor’s degree from Georgia Southern University in Justice Studies with minors in Sociology and Psychology, a graduate certificate of achievement from University of Virginia in Criminal Justice Education and a masters of science from California University of Pennsylvania in Legal Studies.
Hensley has also completed over 1,200 hours of leadership training including hundreds of hours with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Academy and the Criminal Justice Executive Development Course.
The 48-year-old Republican has a goal of making the Boyd County Detention Center “the standard for detention centers in Kentucky,” he said.
Hensley is a graduate of Paul G. Blazer High School and has lived in Boyd County his entire life, except during his military service and college education.
“I have an understanding and love of this community and its residents,” he said.
Hensley's 24 years in law enforcement provided him a “strong knowledge of the judicial system.”
Managing a budget and creating policies and procedures are among the experience Hensley has acquired.
“I prepare and administer a $3.5 million budget and can effectively administer all aspects of a government budget including personnel costs, vehicles, training, equipment, etc.,” he explained.
Hensley has “authored and overseen policies and procedures and know the importance of having and implementing standardized policies and training,” he said.
If elected, Hensley would begin implementing standardized operating policies and procedures to “ensure a professional standard” by all employees.
He would establish hiring standards that include drug screens and background checks and “all hires would be required to complete a training program prior to working independently,” he said. “Providing standards and training employees to these standards are important for any profession, but critical for public safety.”
Hensley would adopt a “defined supervision structure and written evaluation process for all employees” and partner with the Jailers Association, the Department of Corrections and private experts to provide annual training to all staff.
“The jailer is a public servant and the detention center belongs to the citizens of Boyd County. All operations would be transparent and regular reports would be made to the County Fiscal Court,” Hensley said.
• Former Boyd County deputy jailer Shawn VanHoose officially launched his campaign for Boyd County Jailer in December.
The 31-year-old is embarking on his first run for office and will appear on the Republican ballot in the May primary.
His education and experience include an associate’s degree in business administration and working as a deputy jailer.
As a former deputy jailer, VanHoose feels his experience as an employee of the jail gives him an insight to the problems and will help him create plan to implement change.
“I have worked at the Boyd County Detention Center for the past eight years and I know what is and is not working.”
His focus for change is on the culture and environment within the jail. VanHoose believes this will help improve jail operations.
“I have a plan that will change the whole culture at the jail and turn things around,” he said.
VanHoose wants to see an environment that treats the people on both sides of the bars better.
“The culture has to be changed to one that fosters the rehabilitation of the inmates and employees with dignity and respect,” he explained.
The winner of the Republican primary on May 22 will face the winner of the Democrat primary in the November general election.