Helder Announces Re-Elec­tion Bid

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - NEWS - By Scar­let Sims

FAYETTEVILLE — Wash­ing­ton County Sher­iff Tim Helder has an­nounced he is seek­ing his eighth term in of­fice.

“It might sound hokey, but law en­force­ment is my call­ing,” Helder said re­cently.

Helder, a Demo­crat, was elected sher­iff in 2004 and is serv­ing his sev­enth two-year term. If he’s re-elected, a change in state law means he will serve a four-year term.

The sher­iff over­sees about 313 full-time em­ploy­ees and the de­ten­tion cen­ter, which is built to hold a max­i­mum of 710 de­tainees. Helder over­sees a $24 mil­lion bud­get.

Helder earns $125,176, which is based on his length of ser­vice, a county or­di­nance and a state-set pay range.

At 59, he has been in law en­force­ment nearly 40 years. He was hired as a dis­patcher in the sher­iff’s of­fice in 1979 and later be­came a deputy. He went to work in the Fayetteville Po­lice Depart­ment in 1982, stayed for 21 years and re­tired as deputy chief.

He re­turned to the sher­iff’s of­fice as chief deputy in 2003.

Helder said he plans to con­tinue to pro­vide deputies with train­ing, de­spite a tight county bud­get. Train­ing gives em­ploy­ees a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity to suc­ceed and makes the depart­ment more pro­fes­sional, he said.

“One of the first things to go, sadly, when bud­get cuts start hap­pen­ing is train­ing,” Helder said. “My com­mit­ment … was to never cut train­ing.”

Helder grad­u­ated from West Fork High School in 1976 and lives in West Fork with his wife, Holly. They have three grown chil­dren. He is an ac­tive mem­ber of Fel­low­ship Fayetteville.

He was ap­pointed to the gover­nor’s Leg­isla­tive Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Over­sight Task Force and re­cently to the Arkansas State Crime Lab­o­ra­tory Board. He is a past pres­i­dent of the Arkansas Sher­iffs’ As­so­ci­a­tion and is a Wash­ing­ton Re­gional Hos­pi­tal Board of Di­rec­tors board mem­ber.

He also is a mem­ber of the Gulf Coast High In­ten­sity Drug Traf­fick­ing Area Task Force and serves on its Board of Di­rec­tors, which in­cludes the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mis­sis­sippi and the city of Mem­phis. The group’s mis­sion is to re­duce il­licit drug avail­abil­ity, ac­cord­ing to its web­site.

Helder said his goal is to fill the sher­iff’s of­fice with qual­ity peo­ple who can con­tinue what he started.

“I feel like we’ve made great strides in peer re­spect and our ser­vice to the com­mu­nity,” Helder said. “My ul­ti­mate de­sire is to try to iden­tify more peo­ple who can take over when I’m gone. I want my legacy to con­tinue — I don’t want it to end the day I walk out the door.”

No other can­di­dates have an­nounced plans to run against Helder, who ran un­op­posed in 2016.

The can­di­date fil­ing pe­riod is from noon Feb. 22 to noon March 1. The pri­mary is May 22.

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