Letcher County Judge/Executive Jim Ward is being challenged to a series of five debates by his Republican opponent, Hatler Kiser.
Kiser, a political newcomer, visited the June meeting of the Letcher Fiscal Court this week to tell Ward he would be challenging him to the debates between now and the November election, and that if Ward declines to participate he will consider him to be a liar.
Kiser, who was given the floor during the “public comments” portion of the monthly meeting, used the occasion to address a long litany of accusations against Ward.
Many of the allegations concerned issues that were settled several years ago or by previous courts. Kiser criticized Ward for supporting the development of the Letcher County Recreation Center, particularly a clause in the loan agreement for the center that says if county cannot meet its loan obligations a special tax would have to be levied to service the debt.
Ward pointed out that such a clause is present in every loan agreement the county government has, including the courthouse renovation and water lines.
Kiser also criticized District One Magistrate Bobby Howard for supporting the center and the loan clause. Howard told Kiser he does support the center, but was not a member of the court at the time the center and its funding plan were approved.
Kiser also accused Ward of accepting $50,000 in campaign contributions from various natural gas companies. Ward said he had accepted contributions from gas companies, but added that he had also accepted them from coal companies and other private sources.
Kiser then accused Ward of working to benefit gas companies at the expense of coal jobs. He also railed against President Obama, and accused him of forcing gas companies to lower prices on natural gas in order to destroy the coal industry.