An Open Letter to Anderson County Law Enforcement
"Justice is incidental to Law and Order." - J. Edgar Hoover
Law enforcement and law and order are two things I believe in strongly, and my personal ties to the Blue are where much of my support stems. Not only that, but over the course of the last 7 years in local government, I've seen firsthand how critical our counties' agencies cohesiveness is in a variety of circumstances: domestic issues, ensuring the safety of our children, death calls, and a numerous other situations both emergencies and non.
Recently I was invited to speak to the local area Fraternal Order of Police along with my opponent in order for the Order to select a candidate to endorse. Appreciative of the opportunity and unchanging of my commitment to law enforcement should I be elected Anderson County Judge Executive, I felt it important that I share my speech:
"First, I’d like to thank Tim Hurt for the invitation here tonight. I met the Hurt family about 23 years ago when our families lived next to one another on Ashley Way. Next, I want to thank each of you for your service to our communities. I have and will always be a supporter of all law enforcement agencies and law & order. I hold the utmost respect for all forms of law enforcement and your service & sacrifice as well as your families sacrifice to keep our communities safe. I want to assure you that I will always be an avid supporter of law enforcement as Anderson County Judge Executive.
My father in law, Bill Lewis, had a long, respected career in law enforcement after returning from the Vietnam War where he was a part of the 82nd Airborne. He became a member of the Kentucky State Police where he served as Captain, Security Detail for a sitting Governor & head of the Marijuana task force at the end of that career, Before serving 4 terms as Lewis County Sheriff. He also spent years teaching law enforcement at EKU. Although his intelligence training at Quantico and his involvement in the development of the KSP Honor Guard were seldom things he talked about, his guidance as I began my journey in public service 8 years ago was invaluable as I was able to seek advice, guidance and knowledge on the workings of county government in my early beginnings. I am so proud of him and his service and grateful for the impact he has had on mine.
The person I am, the people who have impacted my life, the experiences I have had, and the plans I have made are all interconnected. I am Meredith Hyatt Lewis, I was born & raised in Anderson County and I have raised my children in Anderson County. I am the daughter of a homemaker and a Korean War Veteran turned insurance agent, both of whom instilled in me the values of faith, family & community.
I’ve had experience in the fields of entertainment, telecommunications, insurance & education. I opened two retail establishments in our community and taught for 10 years in the public school system. I’ve run a successful small business, the Lawrenceburg Academy of Performing Arts, now for 25 years. The arts have something for everyone and is an effective way to bring a community together. I’ve seen that firsthand through the Boots & Bourbon Nashville Songwriters Festival I established in 2019 as well as the Children’s Theater productions I have produced 3 of the last 4 years.
My husband, Bart, and I will have been married for 27 years next month. He is originally from a small town in Eastern Kentucky and after college brought us together and we began building our lives with one another, we decided that Anderson County was where we wanted to lay down roots and grow our family. We have 3 children: McKenna (24), Dalton (23) & Allaka (almost 19). All three of our children plan to come back to Lawrenceburg to build their careers and raise their own families. I trust that even as a part of a younger generation, they will continue pouring into this community while focusing on the values they were raised on - the same values I was raised on - faith, family, and community.
I got involved in county government 8 years ago when Bart and I discussed wanting to make a difference in our community through service and leadership. It was actually him who encouraged me to run for office. I was a full time public educator at the time with plans of going back into the private sector. So, we decided my running for magistrate was the best way for me to learn everything I could about local government with intentions of one day running for a higher office.
I’ve served the past 7 ½ years as the 4th District Magistrate in Anderson County. I think strong leadership is important. I think relationships are important and I think our Law enforcement needs to know that their biggest support and advocate will come from the leadership of their community. I believe the teamwork between all of our law enforcement: both city and county agencies, jailer, judges and social services as well as the state police that support our county are important for the County Judge Executive to build and invest in. I have done my best to learn through training, conferences, and one-on-one candid conversations, but I want to know and understand ALL aspects of your job in our community to better understand the struggles that you are seeing day in and day out. Leadership that can help with school involvement, education for all populations on our drug epidemic and helping to work with all the key players to find solutions to make your jobs and the issues in our community better. I’m committed to that. I’m committed to you.
My platform consists of 3 key elements:
Transparency & Education
Long Range Community Planning
County Government Operations
I think you can see that my desire to know and understand your department needs and the community issues you are dealing with help to better guide me as your County Judge in Government Operations. I want to be an active part of that communication and understanding of how all departments operate and their specific needs so that we as a county can better ensure accuracy as it pertains to our Administrative Code and community growth.
Long Range Community Planning is key to developing a positive community climate. Creating long range plans that are SMART for all populations of our community are an important part of growth and community development. I want to create long range goals for our park development, and parks programming beyond what we currently offer. I want to ensure that we are utilizing all areas of our community to its fullest potential. Engaging our community in events that support the efforts of our local law enforcement is also something I want to be actively involved in. The year that I was fortunate enough to shop with a child during our Sheriff Department’s Shop with a Cop program was not only important to me because of the time I got to spend with that child, but also the time I got to spend with the officer I was partnered with. I’m excited to share more of my ideas for community development and programming as they pertain to law enforcement in Anderson County.
Transparency & Education are important to me, and I believe these are areas our county is currently lacking in. Decision makers should be well trained because, well, they’re the ones making decisions! I want to develop key training for our public officials so that they feel well informed and prepared to serve Anderson County to the best of their abilities. Our community needs education on how our government works and accessibility to the resources it provides. Our students need education on the services we offer and the opportunities they have to get involved. I want to create programming in partnership with our local education systems: public, private & homeschool. As County Judge Executive I want to be a part of your community programs through personal involvement and community promotion.
I’ve been instrumental in discussions and changes related to how we improved our road fund allocations to better see to infrastructure improvements in our community. I’m proud of the fact that our administration has resurfaced over 100 miles of county roads in the past 7 years. We replaced numerous bridges through the 80/20 bridge program. I’ve been aggressive in our approach to fleet management and getting better control of an aging fleet that is overpowering our budget allotment.
I’ve pushed for Broadband expansion in our community well before the initiative with ARPA was available, but have since initiated most meetings and led most all discussions regarding the ability to build out broadband services to our underserved population in the western part of the county and, hopefully soon, all areas still struggling.
I’ve stressed the importance of taking advantage of grant opportunities through Federal, State, and other organizations to better improve our park system. I’m currently writing the first Land and Water grant that has been attempted in the past 7 years I’ve been on the court. I’ll be the lead on finding and writing those grants as the next CJE.
I could go on regarding my efforts in helping with and improving the restructure of Tourism and Economic Development.Those are still important aspects of our community that will help our local businesses and our community improve and thrive.
I’m an 'out of the box' thinker. Innovative and hard working. Don’t let my size in stature fool you. I’m stronger than I look, smart enough to read and research what I don’t know and willing to do the work, whatever it requires. I want to be the next leader for Anderson County as your Judge Executive. Not because I need a job or the benefits that come with it. I truly want to make Anderson County the best it can be, no strings attached. And it would mean the world to me to continue towards that with your endorsement. Thank you."
Although the endorsement did not come in my favor, it's important that each member of our law enforcement understand that my sentiments don't change should I be elected the next Judge Executive of Anderson County. I will continue to support law enforcement, strive to increase inter-departmental programming, and work towards moving Anderson County forward with your concerns and suggestions in mind.