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Gregory is county's new senator

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Higdon no longer represents Taylor County

 

Taylor County has a new senator.

After clearing the House and Senate last week, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear signed a bill that shuffles the state's districts on Friday.

And in the bill, Taylor County is still represented by State Rep. John "Bam" Carney, R-Campbellsville, but loses its senator in Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon.

After Friday's votes and Beshear signed the bill, which contained a clause that states that the new district map is to go into effect immediately, State Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, now represents Taylor County. She also represents Adair, Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Russell and Wayne counties.

Her former district included Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Monroe, Wayne and Whitley counties.

Carney will continue to represent Taylor and Adair counties. His seat is up for re-election next year.

Higdon previously represented Taylor, Marion, Mercer, Nelson and Washington counties. He now represents Casey, Marion, Nelson, Spencer and part of Jefferson County.

Gregory, who lives in her hometown Monticello, is serving in her first year as a state senator. She was elected in December during a special election to fill the set vacated when David L. Williams left his Senate seat after he was appointed a circuit court judge.

Before becoming a senator, Gregory served a term as a state representative and represented Wayne, McCreary and part of Pulaski County.

Gregory said she has a good working relationship with Carney and looks forward to now serving beside him in representing Taylor County.

"I've always had a good working relationship with him. He does a great job," she said. "Have great respect for him."

And Gregory said she is familiar with Taylor County. She has some horses stabled in the community and said she hopes to be able to ride them more, now that her second profession will have her traveling to Taylor County often.

In addition to being a senator, Gregory works as an attorney. She said she focuses on civil litigation, but her office is a small-town one.

"We do a little bit of anything and everything," she said.

Gregory said it's always hard to no longer represent a county because of the relationships made as a result, and she understands it's also hard for a community to lose the senator or representative its residents have gotten to know.

"It's always disappointing for us to lose counties that we have represented previously," she said.

But Gregory said she believes her new counties have a great deal in common, especially that they are all part of Lake Cumberland Area Development District.

She said Taylor County is home to Green River Lake and her other counties are near Lake Cumberland. As a result, Gregory said the communities have similar tourism interests and she hopes to help build regional cooperation between her counties.

She said she also looks forward to coming to Taylor County, meeting with her new constituents and getting to know the local public officials.

"[And] sit down and talk about the things that are important," Gregory said. "Obviously, I don't know as many people as I hope to get to know."

Gregory said she is pleased with her new counties and is happy the Senate and House of Representatives were able to come together and create what legislators believe is a constitutional redistricting plan.

State lawmakers went to work last week after Beshear called a special session and gave legislators the task of redistricting House and Senate boundaries.

Senate and representative district and some judicial boundaries must be redrawn after each Census. After the 2010 Census, a plan was approved but was later ruled unconstitutional. In the 2010 Census, the state's overall population increased from 4 to 4.3 million people.

On Friday, Beshear stated in a news release that he is happy to see lawmakers finish their task in the five days scheduled for the special session.

"I'm pleased that our legislators have met the constitutional requirements for new districts and that this special session was held to the minimum five-day period, and I have signed the bill so these new districts take effect immediately. I expect these maps will withstand legal scrutiny, so all Kentuckians can be assured of appropriate representation in the General Assembly."

The special session was estimated at costing about $60,000 a day, for a total of $300,000 for the week.

As a senator, Gregory said her goal is to represent the values of the people who elected her into office.

"And also to do what we can to improve the life of the people in the county ... and around the state."

Gregory said she believes Higdon did a great job of representing Taylor County.

"I look forward to working with him to learn about the county and what the priorities are," she said.

Carney said on Friday that he is pleased to see his district stay the same. He said his district was one of less than five in the House that remained the same.

"Very thrilled that that's able to remain that way."

He said he spoke to Higdon briefly on Friday after the news announced. Carney said he is sure he and Carney will stay in close contact about the issues impacting Taylor County.

"He's a team player," he said. "But I know he's not happy to be losing Taylor County."

Higdon said last week that he was very disappointed in the Senate's plan.

"I'm just really, really disappointed in the way that the plan worked out, as far as me losing Taylor County."

On Friday, Higdon said he lost Nelson County during the last redistricting session, but that plan was ruled unconstitutional. He said he doesn't believe that will happen this time.

"The courts are gonna be looking at this over the next few weeks," he said.

Having been born in Taylor County, Higdon said, he feels strongly for the area and will continue to fight for it.

"As long as I'm in the General Assembly, I will continue to support Taylor County."

Higdon said he believes Gregory is a sharp young lady.

"She'll be a good senator," he said. "She will do a great job for you."

But even though Higdon no longer represents Taylor County, he said will always support the community.

"Our paths will still cross from time to time."

Carney can be reached at 465-5400 or john.carney@lrc.ky.gov. To contact Gregory, call (800) 372-7181 or email sara.gregory@lrc.ky.gov.