HAZARD—While there are no political races on the ballot this year, voters in Perry County will have the opportunity to vote in a myriad of races next year, and two local attorneys have officially announced that they will throw their hats in the ring.
Alison Wells and Sam Collins will both run for the office of Perry County Circuit Judge, an office currently held by William Engle, who announced earlier this year that he will not seek re-election. They will be able to officially file with the secretary of state’s office on Nov. 6.
Wells owns and operates her own law firm on Main Street in Hazard, and said in a statement released to the Herald last week that she looks to continue the same type of service Engle has done since he was elected in 2004.
“I admire the job Judge Engle has done as Circuit Judge and the many improvements he has made in the performance of the Perry Circuit Court and I will endeavor to follow his example in terms of hard work, impartiality and sense of duty so long as I may have the privilege as serving as your Circuit Judge,” Wells stated.
Wells is a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1987, and has spent her career practicing in Perry County. Her father, Garland Wells, was an attorney in Hazard for 36 years, and her grandfather, Courtney Wells, served as circuit judge from 1951 to 1963. To read her full statement announcing her candidacy, log on to www.hazard-herald.com.
Wells will have at least one opponent in her run for office, as Collins announced his intention to seek the circuit judgeship as well.
Collins, who primarily handles civil cases for the Deborah Lewis law firm in Hazard, also serves as the board attorney for the Hazard Independent Schools and as city attorney for Buckhorn. He previously worked under Judge Engle prior to Engle’s election as circuit judge.
Collins said he had wanted to become an attorney since childhood, and decided during his time in law school that he would also seek to become a judge later in his career. He also noted his respect for Engle and the job he has done to turn around the circuit court in Perry County.
“I think this is a perfect time for me to throw my hat in the ring and see if I can get to where I want to be,” he said, adding the position of judge is one which presents an opportunity to make the judicial system more efficient and ensure everyone gets treated fairly. “When you’re a lawyer, you have to take one side or the other. As a judge, you get to look at everything and try to do your best to do what’s right. I think it’s a very noble calling and it’s always intrigued me.”
Collins is also a graduate from the University of Kentucky and a native of Perry County, growing up first on Lower Second Creek and then in the Hardburly community. He currently resides in Happy.
As of press time, no other candidates have announced their intention to seek the circuit judgeship.
While the circuit judge’s race will be an important one, there will also be several more on the ballot next year, including county judge, sheriff, district judge, and Hazard mayor among several more.
Candidates can officially file for office on Nov. 6. The final deadline for the May primary is Jan. 28, 2014.
Alison Wells’ statement announcing her candidacy for circuit judge:
My name is Alison C. Wells and I am announcing my candidacy for Perry Circuit Judge to succeed our current Judge, Hon. William Engle, who has publicly announced his intention to retire when his current term expires in January 2015. I am a lifelong resident of Perry County and have practice law here for 26 years. I am married to Kenny Hicks who is employed as the Radiology Director at Hazard ARH. We are the parents of four children, Courtney Hylton, Trevor Hylton, Alex Hicks and Justin Hicks. All of our children grew up here in Perry County and attended local schools.
I graduated in 1982 from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Social Work and from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1987 with my law degree. Since graduation, I have practiced in Perry County, first with the law firm of Barret, Haynes and May, P.S.C. and then on my own. As a solo practitioner, I have had the opportunity and privilege to meet and assist many individuals from Perry County. I look forward to continuing to work with the people of Perry County as the next Perry Circuit Judge.
By practicing law in Perry County for many years and then seeking the office of Perry Circuit Judge, I am following in the footsteps of my father, Garland Wells, who practiced in Hazard for approximately 36 years, and my grandfather, Courtney Wells, who served as Perry Circuit Judge from 1951 to 1963.
I admire the job Judge Engle has done as Circuit Judge and the many improvements he has made in the performance of the Perry Circuit Court and I will endeavor to follow his example in terms of hard work, impartiality and sense of duty so long as I may have the privilege as serving as your Circuit Judge.