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story.lead_photo.caption Lupe Martinez (left) and Richard McKeehan (right)

ROGERS -- Democrat Lupe Martinez and Republican Richard McKeehan will face off for the Benton County Justice of the Peace District 3 seat.

The seat is held by Republican Debra Hobbs, who didn't seek reelection.

The district covers the city of Rogers from Walnut Street to Lowell.

Fifteen Republicans currently comprise the Quorum Court. Justices of the peace serve two-year terms.

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 is 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 is 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?

Martinez: Benton County can cut costs by reviewing and implementing alternative to jail expansion studies done by Washington County.

The county can also work with the Bail Project to provide bail money for those in need. To raise revenue, Ozark Regional Transit can increase rider fee and increase ridership.

McKeehan: The county can cut costs by reducing the number and amount of planned improvements to county roads and bridges.

They can also delay planned improvements/renovations to county buildings and grounds. With an increased population and more housing and building projects generating more property taxes, there should not be a need for a short term tax increase.

We should "tighten our belts" where we can as many families are doing during the covid pandemic.

Question: What is the biggest challenge facing county government? How would you address it?

McKeehan: There are two big challenges facing the county. With increased population there is increased crime, domestic violence and court cases.

All these place burden on two main areas -- law enforcement and county court proceedings.

We have added a new Circuit Court Judge Christine Horwart. Another courtroom is already coming together to be ready for use as soon as possible.

Our county roads also see an increase in traffic. That means more repairs, upkeep and cost and a desire of residents to have hard surface roads. It will remain an ongoing financial need for years to come.

Martinez: A big challenge facing county government is residents understanding of and participation with county government.

I would propose town hall meetings via Zoom, at this time, throughout the year.

The judge and JPs can educate the residents and residents would be encouraged to survey their district, report concerns, provide solutions and contact their JPs for greater participation.

Question: What makes you the best candidate for this position?

Martinez: As a crisis center volunteer and hospital chaplain, I have learned and implemented great listening skills and the ability to encourage conversation and motivate people.

I have lived in other regions of the U.S., and I bring a different perspective to Northwest Arkansas.

McKeehan: I am a native of Benton County, one of five generations. I have lived over 50 years in the Bentonville and Rogers area.

I have worked 21 years for Walmart as a design manager in real estate division, and as a senior project manager in logistics working on over 300 store and large warehouse projects.

Served as city councilman in Bentonville from 2000-2002. I also had an engineering company, McKeehan Engineering, doing land development designs throughout the county for many years; presenting projects for approval before planning boards, city councils and citizen groups.

I have served as an elder, worship leader, Sunday school teacher, community group leader in churches for many years. These qualities of service, leadership and commitment will aid me in serving my Rogers district.

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Lupe Martinez (D)

• Age: 68

• Residency: Has lived in District 3 for 11 years

• Employment: Research and process unemployment claims for hourly workers for a third-party vendor.

• Education: Master of divinity, San Francisco Theological Seminary; bachelor of science in natural science, Saint Peters College, Jersey City, N.J.

• Political Experience: None

Richard McKeehan (R)

• Age: 69.

• Residency: Has lived in District 3 for nine years.

• Employment: Retired from Walmart. Engineering design work on a part-time basis for the past 2 ½ years.

• Education: Bachelor of science in civil engineering, University of Arkansas

• Political Experience: Bentonville City Council, 2000-2002

Mike Jones may be reached by email at [email protected]

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