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Longtime Jefferson County sheriff faces primary challengers for first time since 1998

John Aubrey, who is running for his seventh term, has been sheriff for 23 years.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. —

John Aubrey 

Longtime Jefferson County Sheriff John Aubrey will be facing an opponent from his own political party in Kentucky's May 17 primary election for the first time in more than 20 years. 

Aubrey, who is running for his seventh term, has been sheriff for 23 years.

This is only the second time he's had to run in a primary. The last time was his very first election in 1998. 

"When we first took off, being as polite as I can, we had to rebuild an organization," Aubrey said. "What you see today is the results of that over a period of time that we have been in office."

Aubrey said the other candidates don't have his qualifications or proven track record. The retired U.S. Army Colonel has served in law enforcement for more than 50 years. 

Prior to his time as sheriff, Aubrey worked at the Louisville police department. He was acting police chief when he retired after 28 years with the department. 

"I appreciate the opportunity of doing what I'm doing," Aubrey said. "I think our record and our leadership and our background in training speaks for itself. There's nobody that's got that who is running."

Aubrey said he feels his biggest accomplishments since taking office have been adding stability and oversight in the department. 

"When we first took office the sworn folks - deputies - did not have a contract and did not have a merit board," Aubrey said. "Within a few months, we were able to negotiate with our fraternal order police a collective bargaining contract and also get a statute that gives them a merit board."

RELATED: Kentucky Voter Guide: How to vote in the 2022 Primary Election

George Rodman

George Rodman, who has 28 years of law enforcement experience in Jefferson County, is one candidate challenging the longtime incumbent. 

Prior to merger, Rodman worked at Jefferson County Corrections and the Louisville Police Department. He stayed with LMPD after the merger until 2017. 

While with LMPD, Rodman worked as a domestic violence detective and a division detective where he investigated violent crime. He also spent six years working at the training academy. 

If elected, Rodman said he wants to modernize the department. 

"I would update the training 100%," Rodman said. "I would update the technology that needs to be updated big time. I would update the hiring practice and the team that I'd put together will be diverse." 

Rodman's name may be familiar. His son, LMPD Officer Nick Rodman, was killed in the line of duty in 2017. 

"It's been no secret, I lost a son in this city we served," Rodman said. "I tell people this all the time. I don't have to do this, I want to do this. And if we don't make a change and we keep heading in the direction that we're going in, it's going to get worse."

Stephen Yancey

Stephen Yancey, a former Jefferson County Sheriff's deputy and lieutenant, also challenged Aubrey in the primary.

Yancey said one of his goals if elected would be to improve relationships between youth and the sheriff's office in Louisville in an effort to reduce violence. 

"What I want to do is go to all the schools and talk to the kids because I think that's where our problems start with our youth," Yancey said. "If I'm elected sheriff for Jefferson County, I'm going to be in every schools every day, with the help of the superintendent, showing them love because if you show them love, you can bring about change and I think we can make Louisville better and make Louisville safer."

Yancey also said he would include more diversity training if elected. 

"When you deal with different types of people and communities, you got to know how cultures are," Yancey said. "I don't think that they see that. If you grew up in a certain area of town, your culture may be different than others. We have to change that."

Martin "Marty" McDonald, who is also running for sheriff as a Democrat, declined to do an interview Wednesday. 

There are no Republicans running for sheriff in Jefferson County. 

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