BELLA VISTA -- Republican Renona Crowden and Democrat Kelley Boyd are vying to fill the District 10 seat on the Benton County Quorum Court.
Republican Michelle Chiocco didn't seek reelection.
District 10 covers the west side of Bella Vista.
Justices of the peace serve two-year terms. The Benton County Quorum Court currently is made up of 15 Republicans.
Quorum Court members are paid $244 for each Committee of the Whole meeting and Quorum Court meeting they attend, and $152 for each meeting of another committee they serve on, according to the county.
The election will be held Nov. 3. Early voting starts Oct. 19. A voter may request an absentee ballot application by contacting the county clerk in the county where the voter registered to vote, according to the Arkansas Secretary of State website. Voters may download the application from the county websites.
The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette emailed the same questions to the candidates. Their responses are below. Candidates were limited to 200 words per answer.
Question: Benton County's share of tax revenue is expected to shrink after the census. Where can the county cut costs or raise revenue?
Boyd: We need representatives who will be good stewards of taxpayers' money. I want us to take a hard look at our spending as a county and cut costs where we can and spend where necessary.
For example, I have first-hand understanding of the sources of funds available to the county from the federal government to help us recover from flooding events to fund bridge and road repairs.
It is more important than ever to find ways to offset much needed investments in our transportation infrastructure.
Crowden: With the fiscal year looming, now is a great time for the county administrators to work closely with the comptroller to see where the belt can be tightened.
Future projects may need to be curtailed or put off until budgets are adjusted. Looking into the possibilities of available block grants and related monies needs to be delved into also.
Northwest, and Benton County in particular, are growing at an exponential rate.
Question: What is the biggest challenge facing county government? How would you address it?
Crowden: Though there are many challenges facing Benton County, one of the biggest problems we face is the issue of a consolidated courthouse.
The Quorum Court is tasked with coming up with an acceptable outcome. Our courts are spread out in many different buildings and all over the county.
There is much debate concerning a multitude of concerns in this discussion. Areas of concern are the following: parking, safety, location and cost.
To address these areas, we need to look at what is not only economically feasible but also to the future.
We need to plan ahead and try to ensure that whatever the new plan is going forward that the financial impact to county residents is minimal and not an endless drain. We also need to ensure that the new facility is built with the concept in mind that it will sustain our county government for a very long time into the future and that all housing and safety measures are included.
The Quorum Court must work together with the various agencies involved to find an acceptable solution to this problem. Being open-minded yet grounding oneself in facts are the best way to delve into this issue.
Boyd: The biggest challenge facing county government is the lack of accountability to the public. We seem to really struggle with transparency, and I am not sure why.
I want to represent all the people of the district. To do that we need transparency and accountability. The county takes in millions of dollars each year and, as your representative, I will make my reasoning and decision making process public without concern for special interests.
My goal is to make sure we are spending our money in the most efficient and effective ways possible.
Question: What makes you the best candidate for this position?
Boyd: Since 2008, voters in District 10 haven't had a Democrat on the ballot for justice of the peace. I believe that the lack of Democratic opponents combined with the relative obscurity of the Quorum Court can lead to a dangerous sense of complacency and can lead to unchecked and unbalanced spending.
Justices of the peace need to be accountable to their voters and without an opponent, that can't happen.
The Quorum Court needs a representative who will gather the relevant information, ask tough questions about our budget and spending decisions, and be accountable to the people we serve.
Crowden: I have experience from the other side of the Quorum Court. I had to work closely with the comptroller on the budget for my office (Veterans Services).
I have stood in front of the Quorum Court and given them justification for the office's budget. I am familiar, being a part of the county administrative staff, with all the departments and the challenges each faced. I feel that this prior knowledge augments me going into the Quorum Court.
It would take me less time to be acclimated, and I would have a better understanding of the machinations of the position. My history with the county lends me insight to the issues facing our area.
Kelley Boyd (D)
• Age: 59
• Residency: Has lived in District 10 for five years
• Employment: Privacy professional for Walmart
• Education: Juris doctor, University of Arkansas
• Political Experience: Unsuccessful candidate for New York State Assembly District 71 in 2014
Renona Crowden (R)
• Age: 53
• Residency: Has lived in District 10 for 2½ years
• Employment: Retired, Arkansas Air National Guard; retired, director of Benton County Veteran Services Office
• Education: Bachelor of education, Arkansas Tech University; associate degrees in munitions systems technology and nondestructive inspection from the Community College of the Air Force
• Political Experience: None