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story.lead_photo.caption Jim House

FAYETTEVILLE -- A former state lawmaker plans to run as a Democrat for the Washington County judge position.

"I think it's good for me to settle back into public service," Jim House said.

What does the county judge do?

The Washington County judge is the chief executive officer for the county government and is custodian of county property and public buildings. The position oversees budgets of about $26 million and 14 departments. Duties include:

• Authorizing and approving the disbursement of all appropriated county money

• Operating the system of county roads

• Administering ordinances enacted by the quorum court

• Accepting grants from federal, state, public and private sources

• Presiding over the quorum court without a vote but with the power of veto

Source: Washington County

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House, who was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2007 and 2009, announced this week he intends to file and run against County Judge Joseph Wood, a Republican, during the general election. The position is the top chief executor for the county.

Wood, who has filed to run for re-election, has a salary of $103,698, based on his experience and state law. The candidate filing period ends at noon Thursday.

House, 69, lives on property that is split between Fayetteville and county jurisdiction. He said he understands the needs of Washington County residents and city residents.

"I feel like I'm the person where the country meets the city," House said. "I'm for the cattleman, and I'm for the rancher -- but I'm also for working with city officials."

House has lived in Washington County since fifth grade and has deep roots in the county, he said. House said generations of his family have lived, died and been buried in Washington County.

"I'm homegrown," House said. "My family is deep into agriculture. I'll be a supporter of agriculture and of rural roads."

House said changes he'd like to see in the judge's office include the judge being more accessible to the public. He also said he wants to improve the relationship between Republican and Democrat justices of the peace.

House said as county judge, which oversees about 600 employees in 14 departments, he plans to make sure employees are improving and providing quality services. He said he also wants to look at options to limit spending.

Washington County has a $5 million gap between revenue and expected expenditures in its $68 million budget this year.

House said he has the experience the county needs. He was an administrator at the state health department for 25 years, spent two years in the Army and served as an elected representative in state government.

House is a farrier, who is known for riding his horse during campaigning. He has been married to Nan House for three years and has a 15-year-old stepson and two adult children.

Washington County voters need a county judge who understands them, House said.

"The very rural residents of the county are the people who need a strong leader and a strong representative to represent their needs in the county," he said.

NW News on 03/02/2018

Print Headline: Jim House announces bid for Washington County judge seat

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