In­cum­bent, Chal­lenger Seek District 10 Seat

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - NEWS - By Ash­ton Eley

— 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.



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