BENTONVILLE — A pair of political newcomers are vying for the open District 11 seat on the Benton County Quorum Court.
Susie Kuilan is the Democratic Party candidate and Dustin Todd is the Republican. Bob Bland, the incumbent, did not seek re-election. District 11 covers most of the northwestern corner of Benton County, including Gravette and Decatur. Justices of the peace serve two-year terms and are paid $230 for each Quorum Court and Committee of the Whole meeting and $144 for each meeting of a committee of which they are a member.
Kuilan said she has long had an interest in local government and was persuaded by friends to make the race. She said she has been following issues the Quorum Court has been considering, including the proposed $30 million courts building and the location of a new Simmons Foods plant near Gentry. She’s interested in issues that may be municipal concerns on the surface but could affect the county.
“I think the county needs to be involved in discussions about the Sugar Creek Dam, for one,” she said. “There are county implications and the decisions on what to do with the dam could affect green-ways and trails and recreational opportunities in the county as well as the cities.
Kuilan said she has mixed opinions about the courts building location, but she is glad the funding plan will be voted on. The county is planning to ask voters in a special election in March 2019 to consider a temporary one-eighth cent sales tax.
“It’s the people’s money,” she said.
Todd said his background in law enforcement prompted him to seek other areas where he could serve the public.
Todd said he has been involved in the design of the building so he had no comments on that. He said he supports the sales tax funding plan and the decision to have the plan go to voters.
“I understand the reasoning, not wanting that issue to be crowded out in the general election,” he said. “I agree that (the sales tax) is going to be the least painful way to get it funded. I don’t want the county to have a longterm debt and pay as much as $9 million in interest if we borrowed the money. That’s all taxpayers’ money too.”
Both candidates said they want to watch the county’s budget and avoid unnecessary expenses.
Todd said the county should use its reserves to avoid borrowing money.
“We need to be fiscally conservative,” he said.
Kuilan said the justices of the peace should scrutinize every budget request.
“We don’t want to go out buying stuff that’s not necessary,” she said.
Early voting begins Oct.
- The general election is Nov. 6.
SUSIE S. KUILAN
Democrat AGE: 52 RESIDENCY: Gravette and District 11 for 5 years. EMPLOYMENT: Associate dean with the strategic security and protection program with North American University. EDUCATION: Doctoral degree in English from Louisiana State University.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: None.
Republican AGE: 30
RESIDENCY: Rural Benton County near Decatur and District 11 resident for 1 1/2 years, Benton County 7 years. EMPLOYMENT: Assistant branch manager, Riggs Caterpillar in Springdale.
EDUCATION: Associate degree from College of the Ozarks in Branson, Mo.
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: None.