Editorial by Chad Hobbs
At last week’s August Meade County Fiscal Court meeting, Judge/Executive Gerry Lynn was absent. He was also absent at the July monthly meeting and a special called meeting, as well. In fact, the last public meeting he attended was back in early June of this year, and he hasn't been in office since.
The only public statement the Fiscal Court has made on the matter is during their opening prayers at the last two meetings. Both times a special prayer for the Judge, asking that the Lord to lay His healing hands on Lynn, took place after the Pledge of Allegiance. Magistrate Gary Chapman has led those meetings in the Judge’s absence.
Multiple questions by Meade County citizens, revolving around the Judge’s health and status, have been presented to my colleagues and myself. At this time, the only thing that has been verified by sources working for the county is that the Judge was in the hospital and at some point last month he came home.
I have been critical of the Judge’s actions at times, but it was always business. On a personal level, for the sake of the Judge and his family, I hope those prayers are answered. Currently, I am unable to say how serious the situation is. County leaders choice to keep silent on the Judge's status has led to one of the worst kept secrets ever. It has also allowed the rumor mill to float everything from COVID, pneumonia and cancer as the culprit of Lynn's absence.
That leads to second part of the questions I have been continually asked. Who is running the county in his absence, and what happens if he can’t return to office? The first part is a bit unclear. The magistrates are running the meetings, but as for the day to day operations, it’s hard to say.
According to KRS 67.705: Each county shall have a chief executive officer known as the county judge/executive. Only a resident of the county shall be eligible for election as county judge/executive. He shall be nominated and elected by the qualified voters of the county in the manner provided by law for the election of county officers. In case the office of county judge/executive becomes vacant by reason of death, resignation, or removal, it shall be filled with a person appointed by the Governor, in accordance with Section 152 of the Constitution, for the unexpired term. The Governor shall appoint a person to fill a vacancy in the office of county judge/executive not later than thirty (30) days after the date on which the vacancy occurs. If a vacancy occurs in the office of county judge/executive, the remaining members of fiscal court shall elect one of their members to serve as temporary county judge/executive until the Governor fills the vacancy in the office.
I have been respectful of whatever the Lynn family is dealing with. As I stated above, regardless of past professional disagreements, I wish nothing but a full recovery for whatever the Judge is dealing with. After two months out of office, though, an official statement is long overdue from our county government.
I understand a family’s right to privacy when dealing with health issues, especially serious ones, but I also understand that this county is dealing with a pandemic and a billion plus dollar business development to name just a few issues. The people of Meade County deserve to know why the highest ranking and one of the highest paid public offices is vacant. They deserve to know who is running the county since the man they voted for isn't. Public servants give up their right to privacy the day they ask citizens for their votes and tax dollar funded salary. It's not personal. It's just business.