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Judge-Executive-Elect Sarah Gray Steele Represents Mercer County

The Harrodsburg Herald/Robert Moore
Sarah Gray Steele made history in November when she was the first woman to be elected as Mercer County Judge-Executive. Gray Steele will be sworn in Dec. 21 and will assume office at the beginning of next year.

Robert Moore
Herald Staff

Last month, Sarah Gray Steele made history when she won election as Mercer County Judge-Executive.

Gray Steele, along with Mercer County Magistrate-elect Susan Thompson Barrington and Melinda Wofford, the first Black woman elected to the Burgin City Council, 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.

Formerly a guidance councilor at Burgin Independent School, Gray Steele is a small business owner and runs a small farm with her husband. Over the last year or so, she has attended many meetings, not just the Mercer County Fiscal Court but also the Mercer-Boyle County Joint Jail Commission and other organizations, learning how local government works.

The Harrodsburg Herald/Robert Moore
Mercer County Judge-Executive-elect Sarah Gray Steele was sworn in by Family Court Judge
Bruce Petrie at the Mercer County Judicial Center on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022.

In addition, she serves on the boards of several local civic organizations, including as vice-chair of the Mercer County Republican Party. She will be sworn in as the new judge-executive on Wednesday, Dec. 21, and take over the office at the beginning of next year.

What inspired you to run for office?

Sarah Gray Steele: I have worked with children and families for many years. I have always wanted to serve others in my community. A few years ago I started to become very active in community groups and organizations. I noticed a need here in Mercer County. I came to the realization that if I was not willing to stand up and work for my community, then how could I expect that from others. I spoke with my family and prayed for several months about making the decision to run for office. It is something I truly felt led to do and am excited to serve.

What do you hope to accomplish when in office?

Gray Steele: I hope to open the door and create a climate in our county for better collaboration. We have so many groups working hard in Mercer County. I want to facilitate a positive working relationship among all government and civic organizations. I hope to promote growth and sustainability for Mercer County.

Who, if anyone, inspired you to run for office?

Gray Steele: Honestly, my children are my inspiration to run for office. I am vested in this county as this is where I have lived my entire life. I want my children to have a community to grow up in that is supportive, prosperous, and that provides a variety of opportunities. My hope is that I can help in making this community a place families want to plant their homes, work and contribute to.

What advice would you give to anyone looking at running for office?

Gray Steele: My advice would be, don’t be afraid to step outside your box. Get involved and educate yourself on the business of our community. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Anyone willing to serve, I encourage you to step out to be a voice. It takes many people with a variety of skills to make this community successful. We need individuals willing to serve here in Mercer County.

Has anyone served as your mentor at any time in your career? If so, who are they? Is there any specific piece of advice from them you could share?

Gray Steele: I have had many people that have mentored and encouraged me along the way. Too many to just name one. From my family, to teachers, coaches, advisors, colleagues and more, I have been blessed along the way. Each person’s encouragement,support, instillment of hard work and work ethic have all helped shape me which has allowed me to pursue this endeavor. For each person I am thankful.

Do you think there needs to be more representation in local politics?

Gray Steele: I feel like local politics, whether it be elected positions, appointed committees, or boards, should be made up of individuals that represent the community and the dynamics of the population they serve. I believe there should be a balance of voices. Each person in politics is there to make decisions that represents our community and the best interests of community members.

Editor’s Note: This is the final installment in a three-part series on the changing face of Mercer County politics. Previous installments focused on Burgin Councilwoman-elect Melinda Wofford and Magistrate-elect Susan Thompson Barrington.

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