District 4 Magistrate Susan Barrington Is Representing Mercer County
In last month’s elections, the Republicans scored a clean sweep at the county level, with Stephen “Pete” Elliott, Kevin Hicks and Susan Thompson Barrington being elected to the Mercer County Fiscal Court.
Thompson Barrington, along with Melinda Wofford, the first Black woman elected to the Burgin City Council, and Judge-Executive-elect Sarah Gray Steele, represent the changing face of politics in Mercer County, one where the people who hold elected office look more like the people they are elected to represent.
So the Harrodsburg Herald is asking the history makers what’s it like making history.
A native of Burgin, Thompson Barrington served as superintendent at Old Fort Harrod State Park for 20 years. She was elected as the magistrate for District 4, which includes Burgin, in the Mercer County Fiscal Court. She will take office at the beginning of 2023.
What inspired you to run for office?
Susan Thompson Barrington: I have always been actively engaged in community, civic, school and church. My mother and father set the example, and the bar was high. Their strong examples in my life continue to inspire me every day.
I had never run for public office until 2022. It seemed like the right time in my life, personally. I am excited about this opportunity to represent and serve people in District 4 where I have lived for 67 years, and citizens in all of Mercer County.
The voice of the people spoke when they cast their votes for me. I take that very seriously. It is extremely humbling to be elected. When I am out in public, folks I don’t even know, or know well, have told me that they voted for me. I am grateful that they have put their trust in me. That says a lot.
It is important for the voice of the people to be heard. However; many times it is not, because they don’t know what to say, when or where to say it. I want to be an advocate for the voices of others to be heard. I will have a means of communication with our constituents after I take office. My answers may not always be what they want to hear, but I will communicate and will be responsive.
I hope to make a difference for the good; help bring about some positive change.
What do you hope to accomplish when in office?
Thompson Barrington: This is a huge question being asked of a soon-to-be magistrate for the first time. I just attended a two-day training in Louisville this week, for newly elected judge executives, magistrates and commissioners in Kentucky. The event was sponsored by the Kentucky County Judge Executive Association and the Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association. It was an excellent and highly informative and educational training event.
There is always a need for improving communication between elected officials and their constituents. I believe educating the public is very important. The Mercer County Fiscal Court is the county legislature and governing body of each county. The court is made up of 7 elected officials; 6 magistrates and the county judge.
I am in favor of moving fiscal court meetings to a time later in the day. Meetings need to be held at a time that will encourage our constituents to attend. Fiscal court meetings are open to the public, yet very few people ever attend. I believe this goes back to uninformed voters, and lack of communication. Bottom line is improving education and communication between Fiscal Court and our citizens.
I am looking forward to working closely with our fiscal court as we begin our elected duties after taking the oath of office in January. I am committed to become an informed leader for Mercer County. I have a desire to learn and grow as a public servant. I hope to continually gain valuable insight on issues that are important and prevalent to Mercer County. I will serve with integrity and dedication.
Who, if anyone, inspired you to run for office?
Thompson Barrington: My mother and father have always been my inspiration in life. They grew up in Burgin during the Great Depression. Both were afforded the opportunity to attend and graduate from college, which was not common during that time. Both excelled in their chosen professions, and personal lives, as well.
Mama and daddy raised me well. I learned from and witnessed their daily examples of lives well-lived. They were devoted to one another for nearly 70 years. Both were outstanding and respected leaders in the community. My parents inspired me and encouraged me to serve others, and to take active leadership roles in the community.
What advice would you give to anyone looking at running for office?
Thompson Barrington: A good candidate must be passionate, willing to work hard, have a desire to learn, have a variety of experiences, and have a good support team.
Has anyone served as your mentor at any time in your career? Is there any specific piece of advice from them you could share?
Thompson Barrington: My mother and my father have always been my mentors. I was blessed to have them in my life on a daily basis until their passing.
I am thankful to be their daughter.
Do you think there needs to be more representation in local politics?
Thompson Barrington: I believe elected officials should mirror and reflect the district/community that they represent and serve.
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series on the changing face of Mercer County politics. Mercer County Judge-Executive-elect Sarah Gray Steele’s profile will close out the series next week.