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Louisvillians Vote for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors on Tuesday. What's That?

This year’s election ballot is long and intimidating for Louisville residents. There’s the marquee race: McConnell vs. Grimes. Voters will choose a candidate for Louisville mayor and third district congressman. There’s at least a page of judges—district, appellate, circuit and family court—and some districts will vote for school board. And then, there’s this one other category: Soil and Water Conservation District.

The Jefferson County Soil and Water Conservation District’sboard is made up of seven non-partisan supervisors, and each is elected to four-year terms and serves without compensation. Two years ago, this line item on my ballot took me by surprise. Here’s what I found out:
The Soil and Water Conservation District works closely with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, but is separate. It’s been around since 1944, and the board works to help private property owners reduce soil erosion and establish riparian zones to protect water quality. The district’s board supervisors offer comments on how plans submitted to the city will affect the soil and water (though they don’t have the authority to deny permits). They run environmental education programs, and give out federal money to conservation projects. Former board member and current board advisor Ward Wilson says the board members will shape the district’s policies for the next four years—choosing whether to focus money and outreach on farmers or urban issues, for example, and where to direct educational efforts.
There are four candidates on tomorrow’s ballot for three open seats. David Kaelin and Raymond Adams Sr. are incumbents, so you can read a brief paragraph about each man here. Lisa Dettlinger has a position statement up on Facebook. The fourth candidate is Ray Barrow; he doesn’t appear to have any social media accounts and a phone number listed for him was disconnected.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.