Carroll County residents gathered to hear several candidates vying for seats in May's primary election discuss their focus and vision for the area.

Several of the issues discussed during the event - which was sponsored by the Carroll County Cattlemen's Association and the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce - included drug abuse, jobs, the county's infrastructure and expanding law enforcement presence throughout the county.

The event was held in the Carroll County Middle School auditorium.

Each candidate had an opportunity to tell voters why they decided to run for office and the qualities they hope to bring to the office, the three most important issues in the county and long-term visions for the county. Candidates had six minutes - two minutes per question - to share with the audience.

Carroll County judge-executive candidate Jesse Saggus said he believes the county is a work-in-progress and will continue to be for several years. His focuses and long-term vision includes expanding activities for the area's children, decreasing drug issues in the area and seeing the new Jefferson Community & Technical College campus built in Carrollton.

"This drug problem isn't going to be solved in a day," Saggus said. "JCTC isn't going to be built in a day."

Judge-executive candidate Clay Cable said improving the existing infrastructure, seeing the construction and growth of the JCTC campus and battling the drug "epidemic" will be the top issues he hopes to address, if elected.

"It's not an easy task," Cable said of the drug issue in the county. Cable noted he saw first-hand how difficult it can be to halt drug use in the county after previously serving as a sheriff's deputy.

Kathy Goff, also a judge-executive candidate, outlined education and other approaches to combating the illegal drug issue in the community - a top issue in her campaign.

"We simply cannot stick our heads in the sand and pretend it does not exist," she said.

Dean Miller, another judge-executive candidate, said his focus would be jobs in the community. He thinks the county has the industrial base it needs to succeed, and the new JCTC campus should be able to provide the training local workers need to fill job openings.

"We have everything we need," Miller said. "We just need to get a plan."

Judge-executive candidate Bobby Lee Westrick said completion of the community college and combating drug issues would be high on his list of priorities, if elected. He also hopes to focus on improving and expanding local hospital and ambulance services.

Westrick also hopes to help make Carroll County a place residents are happy to call home, just as he and his family have for generations.

Magistrate District 1 candidates Floyd Bowling, Richard "Zeke" Carrico and Clyde Rowlett discussed their top issues, which included curbing drug usage in the community and bringing in new jobs and businesses.

Rowlett hopes to take a look at increasing county employee wages, if elected. He said some of the county's employees give a vital service to the community while barely making minimum wage.

Carrico hopes to invest in the local infrastructure to improve existing roads, if elected.

Bowling believes investing and supporting new area initiatives would enhance and better the entire county.

Magistrate District 2 candidates Kerry Graham and Mitchell Perkins also discussed what they hope to change in the county if elected.

Graham believed there are several projects around the community he hopes to see completed and other drainage issues he'd like to address.

He also hopes to increase the amount of local workers employed with local industries.

"I see untapped potential across the county," Graham said, yet there are plenty of workers taking the earnings from area industries back to their communities.

Perkins believes he's connected to the community's needs.

"We've really got to know what's going on out there," he said.

Perkins also hopes that the new JCTC campus will bring more industry to the area, which in turn will allow Carroll County graduates to become leaders in the companies.

Mike Gordon, another Magistrate District 2 candidate, was unable to attend the event. He submitted a letter, which was read by event moderator Jamie Baker-Nantz of the Grant County News in Dry Ridge, Ky.

The letter said Gordon hoped to curb illegal drug use and clean up Carroll County, something he believes goes "hand-in hand." He also hopes to look into the needs of children and senior citizens, if elected.

William Arvin, also a Magistrate District 2 candidate, was unable to attend the "Meet the Candidate" event.

Magistrate District 3 candidate Mark Bates, a democrat, hopes to find a new use for the former Camp KYSOC, if elected. He also hopes to oversee interstate expansions in the future.

He also viewed education, infrastructure needs and jobs as the top issues for the county moving forward.

D. J. Carroll, the republican Magistrate District 3 candidate, said the county is at a crossroads at this point. The county could take a turn and get back on the road to prosperity.

If elected, Carroll hopes to help implement an active business recruitment plan, help improved curb appeal for the county and fight the drug epidemic in Carroll County.

Bobby Noble, also a Magistrate District 3 democrat candidate, was unable to attend the event.

County sheriff candidates Jamie Kinman, Roy McAllister, Eddie Mefford and Todd Yocum discussed the county's drug issues as a top priority during the event.

Kinman, Mefford and Yocum also talked about expanding the department to serve the growing county and the possibility of adding a K-9 unit to the sheriff's office.

Jailer candidates Michael Humphrey and Scott Rose discussed the additions to the county's detention center during the event.

Humphrey hopes an expansion might help provide areas for drug treatment.

Rose hopes the expansions might allow law enforcement to take a firm stand on the drug issues in the community.

Both candidates also talked about their plans to continue to make sure the jail operates and maintains itself without becoming a burden to county taxpayers.

Constable District 1 candidate Richie Carter said he decided to run for office because it was something he'd always wanted to do and his worry for the area children's future. If elected, he hopes to help combat the county's drug issues and educate children about the negative effects of drug usages.

Other constable candidates were unable to attend the event.

Contested races in the primary election include seats for the county judge-executive, sheriff, jailer, magistrates and constables. Polls for the 2014 primary election will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 20.