Incumbent, Challenger Seek District 10 Seat
— Andrea Jenkins is challenging Robert Dennis for his District 10 justice of the peace seat on the Washington County Quorum Court.
The district includes Farmington, rural areas around Farmington and Prairie Grove and some of the southwest corner of Fayetteville.
Dennis, a Republican, said he’s running for re-election because he has a desire to serve.
“I like to say I did something to pay back the community,” he said. “In the past, I have traveled so much I couldn’t.”
Washington County is going to double in size in less than a decade, Dennis said, and people are going to build farther into the county. If re-elected, he would push for preparation by the Planning Department to ensure the septic tanks and sewer systems are where they need to be, he said.
“Where is all the water that lands on roofs going to go? It’s going to create a lot of high water where there didn’t use to be with added paved roads and driveways,” he said. “Every department has to do more work as more people come in. We will have the expenses first, and it will be very hard on the budget. We are not ready for this growth and we have to catch up. The prison system is first place you see it.”
Jenkins, a Democrat, said she has always been interested in politics and taking on leadership roles where she can to help those in her community and public education, she said. She is an advocate for educators with the Arkansas Education Association.
If elected, Jenkins would focus on roads, bridges, safety, agriculture and farm-to-market issues, and decreasing the jail population. She would also ensure the animal shelter is funded properly.
“Ethics is huge to me,” she said. “I would be making sure everyone is held accountable, even the county judge. The court has a say, and should not just act like it’s a bill to be paid.”
Neither candidate is in favor of a sales tax or millage increase, they said.
“Property taxes are high enough. I have people tell me that they are stretching to pay it. It’s really putting a burden on some people,” Dennis said.
Meanwhile, some people are beating the system with sales tax by buying items online and not paying, he said.
“I would be against a sales tax increase until we start fully collecting the tax levied on products already,” he said. “It’s a collection problem. It needs to be fixed on a national level and state level.”
Jenkins would like to look into other possible sources of revenue and creative options to firm up the budget before asking residents for anything more, she said.
When it comes to the crowded county jail, Jenkins said the Quorum Court should push the state for more money to house its inmates. In addition, she is for crisis intervention programs and giving out more fines as opposed to jail time to non-violent offenders.
“I have been listening carefully and can’t wait to be part of that conversation,” Jenkins said.
Dennis also is in favor of looking into other forms of punishment but said it is up to the judges not the justices of the peace to make that change.
He would like to look into temporary housing for prisoners before building a new facility.
“You would still have it secured with fencing around it, but it would be for low-risk prisoners,” he said.
He’s in favor of a public vote on a bond issue to expand the jail, but it needs to be part of a general election.
“It’s election year so nobody wants to talk about it. I brought it up but was told they didn’t have time to get it together,” Dennis said. “I’m against special elections.”
Justices of the peace serve two-year terms and are paid $200 per meeting night.
The election is Nov. 6. Early voting continues through Nov. 5.