Editor’s note: This editorial expresses the views of the Log Cabin Democrat editorial board, which is composed of Frank Leto, Jeanette Anderton and Alex Kienlen.
The Log Cabin Democrat editorial board invited in the candidates in the six contested Justice of the Peace races to discuss the biggest issues facing the quorum court. After multiple attempts to reach out to the candidates, five responded. We thank Rene Henderson, Kim Maslin, Barrett Perry, Allison Vetter and Dee Sanders for taking the time to meet with this board.
In the District 4 contested race, this board endorses Democrat Rene Henderson over Republican Samuel Strain. Both would be new to the court. Henderson has been a community activist for a long time before seeking office. She attends meetings, asks questions and advocates for Mayflower. This board discloses that Henderson has served on the LCD Reader Advisory Board.
In the District 5 contested race, this board endorses incumbent Republican Rosie Roland over Democrat Crystal Certain. In her first term, Roland has served on the Personnel and Budget/Finance committees on the court. She has done a good job serving on the court and this board doesn’t believe she should be unseated.
In the District 6 contested race, this board endorses Democrat Barrett Petty over incumbent Republican Tyler Lachowsky. Petty was a math teacher for years. He has some good ideas to enhance the quality of life in Faulkner County, though some may be difficult to achieve. We believe he will improve with more experience on the court.
In the District 8 contested race, this board endorses Democrat Kim Maslin over Republican Matt Brown. Both would be new to the court. Maslin has been a political science professor at Hendrix College since 1997. Improving infrastructure, especially the levees, is important to her. She has a passion for education and wants to see more public-private partnerships, similar to the one between The Conductor and UCA.
In the District 9 contested race, this board endorses incumbent Republican Kris Kendrick over Democrat Dee Sanders. Though Sanders met with us and Kendrick did not, his record on the court speaks for itself. Sanders clearly has a passion for social issues but she did not seem clear on what the quorum court could accomplish or was responsible for. Kendrick has a clear understanding of what serving on the quorum court means. He has served on Courts and Public Safety and the Infrastructure and Roads committee.
In the District 13 contested race, this board endorses Democrat Allison Vetter over Republican Jake Moss. Both would be new to the court. Vetter impressed this board with her extensive knowledge of county government and the budget. She has strong ideas and specific data to back them up. She has done her research, which is not surprising with her background in education. She was a sociology professor for years before accepting an administrative role at Hendrix College as its Title IX coordinator.
The Log Cabin Democrat editorial board endorses the following uncontested JP candidates:
District 1 Republican Justin Knight.
District 2 Republican Randy Higgins.
District 3 Republican John Allison III.
District 7 Democrat Tyler Pearson.
District 10 Republican Andy Shock.
District 11 Democrat John Pickett.
District 12 Republican Jerry Boyer.
Although they are unopposed, this board would not endorse these candidates unless we believed they would (or in some cases, have) serve this county well.
Justice Knight has, on more than one occasion, brought up concerns to the court that his constituents relayed to him. Justice Higgins has the knowledge and experience, and often acts as the voice of reason on the court. He has chaired the Courts and Public Safety committee and worked extensively with the Friends of the Faulkner County Animal Shelter to gather research and work toward an animal control solution.
Though John Allison III would be new to the court, this board believes his experience as a high school math teacher and bus driver will help him to have a good understanding of the country budget and to help with conflict resolution.
Justice Pearson comes prepared to the meetings and makes strong arguments. He has served on the Personnel and Budget/Finance committees and is often the one asking questions and driving the conversation.
Justice Shock’s previous experience as the county sheriff gives him a perspective that helps department heads when they come before the court. Having stood in front of the court explaining the sheriff’s office budgetary needs and now being on the other side of those decisions gives him a unique insight.
Justice Pickett chairs the Budget/Finance committee and rightfully so. His economic and financial background lends an expertise to the court that is invaluable. He has previously submitted op-eds to the LCD explaining the cost analysis of street improvements and the county budget to help residents gain a better understanding of the topics.
Justice Boyer has served on the Courts and Public Safety committee and the Personnel committee and is active in the community. His institutional knowledge of this county and its people are vital.
This board has endorsed seven Republican candidates and six Democratic candidates to serve on the quorum court. Representation matters. Balance matters. With these seven Republicans and six Democrats, the court would have a good mix of voices from men and women of different ages and backgrounds and would add people of color, which is desperately needed.