Henry Branham, Clark County Judge-Executive

Chuck Witt met with Clark County Judge/Executive Henry Branham ear­ly on November 15th for an exclu­sive inter­view for WinCity News & Views. Judge Branham was already busy at the begin­ning of the day, prepar­ing doc­u­ments for the next Fiscal Court meeting.

CW: Good morn­ing, Judge. Thanks for your time for the inter­view. First ques­tion: How does it feel to be back in your old office?

HB: Somewhat famil­iar, yet some­what strange. I’m not sure that makes much sense. The staff is dif­fer­ent. When I ran before there was hype and ten­sion and angst, but there wasn’t any of that this time.

CW: Were you sur­prised when you were con­tact­ed by the Governor’s office?

HB: Even though I had been advised that I was being con­sid­ered for the appoint­ment, I was still sur­prised when the call actu­al­ly came.

CW: How was that con­tact made?

HB: By phone call from some­one rep­re­sent­ing the Governor’s office, not the Governor himself.

CW: What is your opin­ion about replac­ing a pub­lic offi­cial with some­one from the oppos­ing party?

HB: A sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion has occurred here in Clark County in the past. Democrat Drew Graham resigned and was replaced by Republican John Myers by Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher. Of course, the Governor has that pow­er to exer­cise as he sees fit. I think there is too much empha­sis placed on par­ty rather than on the indi­vid­ual and what he or she wants to accomplish.

CW: Have you already made some changes?

HB: I did not come into the office with changes in mind. We have not made any changes that were born of my thought only. Any changes so far have been prompt­ed by some­one else or some oth­er enti­ty. An exam­ple would be when the pre­vi­ous admin­is­tra­tive assis­tant had already giv­en notice to resign before Judge Pace passed so my hir­ing of some­one for that role was prompt­ed by that cir­cum­stance. We are also mak­ing some admin­is­tra­tive changes in the Central Office that were prompt­ed by our review of the FY2020 Audit.

CW: What changes do you have in mind before next year’s election?

HB: I don’t have any changes in mind to make at this time.

CW: How have you been received by the cur­rent court?

HB: As you might expect, it is var­ied. Two of the mag­is­trates have been wel­com­ing, the oth­er four have not.

CW: Are the Judge/Executive duties and respon­si­bil­i­ties dif­fer­ent now from when you pre­vi­ous­ly held office?

HB: Mostly the same. The Fiscal Court had placed some per­son­nel in “pro­tec­tive posi­tions” which can no longer be deter­mined sole­ly by this office.

CW: What do you see as your most impor­tant goal dur­ing the next year?

HB: Constructing a bud­get that is respon­sive to the cit­i­zens of Clark County. Clark will be receiv­ing about sev­en mil­lion dol­lars from ARPA which we can apply to local projects such as broad­band in more rur­al areas, a new sew­er line along the U.S. 60 cor­ri­dor, work on our walk­ing and bike trails and parks.

CW: Is that sew­er line pro­posed to encour­age devel­op­ment along that corridor?

HB: It will like­ly aid devel­op­ment in that area, but more impor­tant­ly it will serve those exist­ing areas which now rely on sep­tic sys­tems and pack­age plants, such as Woodford Estates and the mobile home devel­op­ments north of I‑75.

CW: What are the weak­ness­es and strengths of the Democratic par­ty in Clark County?

HB: A weak­ness is that the local par­ty is large­ly judged by the actions of the Democrats at the nation­al lev­el and we have no con­trol over that. Our strength is that the par­ty is still a “par­ty of the peo­ple.” We still want all Clark County cit­i­zens to have oppor­tu­ni­ties to bet­ter them­selves and their families.

CW: Neither the Democratic par­ty nor the Republican par­ty seem inter­est­ed in reach­ing out to inde­pen­dent vot­ers. Do you see any change in that atti­tude or any opportunities?

HB: Independents are a ris­ing minor­i­ty as they aban­don both par­ties. It will be impor­tant for either par­ty to try to reach those inde­pen­dents by offer­ing them specifics that meet their own requirements.

And when you think of local gov­ern­ment, it func­tions for the cit­i­zens with­out regard to par­ty affil­i­a­tion.
City elec­tions are non-par­ti­san. Fayette County gov­ern­ment offices are non-par­ti­san. Our offices are here to serve every­one, not just one or the oth­er party.

CW: Last ques­tion. Are you going to run for the office next year?

HB: That will be a fam­i­ly deci­sion, not one made yet by my wife and me, but I can tell you that one mag­is­trate has already filed to run on the Republican side next year.

  • Chuck Witt

    Chuck is a retired archi­tect, a for­mer news­pa­per colum­nist, and a life­long res­i­dent of Winchester.