Saturday, August 28, 2010

tribute to Sandy

As any one of you in or from Henderson, Kentucky know by now, per the instant messaging network that's existed there long before there was cell phones or the Internet, Henderson County Judge Executive Sandy Watkins died some time before the dawn today. He was attending a convention in San Diego, California. He died in his sleep. He was 58.

My family considers Sandy Lee family. My mother has been his assistant since the first year he took office. When Sandy ran, my Republican Dad put a large sign outside of his downtown shop supporting Democrat Sandy, and actively campaigned for him all over town. Sandy performed my oldest brother's wedding and co-performed my sister's wedding. He stood with me at my father's funeral and held me at a moment that I thought the world was collapsing. I loved calling the Judge's office on the rare occasion when he would answer the phone. I would say, "What in the heck are you doing answering the phone, Sandy Lee?" and he always had a funny answer, like "Well, really, that's all your mother let's me do here. You know she's the one really in charge, right? I'm just a front."

Ofcourse, we all remember last year's infamous Halloween. My Mom's on the far left (for the photo only; I'm the only far lefter in the family, politically speaking).

Each time Sandy ran for re-election, he would visit my grandparents and ask them for their vote. He never assumed it was a given. My sister sang "My Old Kentucky Home" to his supporters the night he was re-elected the first time. He first ran for judge-executive in 1989, but was beaten by just seven votes. My family is very politically active, and even though I was no longer living in Kentucky then, that loss hurt us so much. Sandy never contested those results, but he ran again and won in 1993 and, as the Gleaner put it, sailed through re-election campaigns in 1998, 2002 and 2006. He easily won the Democratic primary in May this year, and was ready to serve another four years. Sandy Lee is why I defend "career politicians": people will benefit from what Sandy did for Henderson even 50 years from now. The list of his accomplishments on behalf of Henderson County could take up the whole entire front and back pages of the Gleaner.

Love you, Sandy. I'm just not ready to miss you yet.

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