BENTONVILLE -- Republican Carrie Perrien Smith and challenger Christian May, a Democrat, are competing for Benton County's Quorum Court District 5 seat.
This district covers central Bentonville up to the Centerton border and includes western Rogers. The southern border of this district is U.S. 71B. Its northern border is Arkansas 102. North Dixieland Road in Rogers is the district's eastern border.
Early voting starts Oct. 24. Election day is Nov. 8.
The Quorum Court is the legislative body of county government and is composed of 15 members called justices of the peace, who are elected to two-year terms. All 15 members of the Benton County Quorum Court are Republicans.
Smith said there are several issues the county needs to deal with in the coming years, including catching up on the backlog of court cases caused by covid-19 shutdowns.
Recruiting and retaining employees is still an uphill battle, she said. Water lines and reliable internet are badly needed for rural areas, she said.
"It's insane how expensive water lines are," she said. "Finding ways to fund water infrastructure and high-speed internet access will attract new neighborhood and business construction."
Jail expansion will be on the Nov. 8 ballot. Smith said she is in favor of jail expansion both in size and in services that reduce recidivism.
"Our jail has been overcrowded for three years and the impending overcrowding issue was known when the attempt was made to fund the brand-new courts facility downtown with an eighth-cent sales tax increase. The funding was rejected by voters and the plan was abandoned. It is critical we address this long overdue issue," she said.
Smith said she is the better person to represent the district because "answering the call to public service allows me to serve as a voice for our residents and businesses. My district is competitive so that means facing challengers every election cycle. Frankly, knocking on thousands of doors provides incredible insight to the concerns of our residents and business owners."
May said looking at other areas that have experienced rapid growth and what they've done could help Benton County. The county has some issues to address that will worsen over the next five years if it doesn't take steps to fix them now, he said.
"Issues like homelessness and increasing rent and property costs have plagued large cities across the country. The Quorum Court can prepare for issues like these by allowing for more affordable housing options and being proactive in developing solutions that keep rent prices and the tax burden on homeowners low. In addition, the need to maintain community services, stable infrastructure and a good economy will be important to retain the people who move here over that five-year period."
May said he isn't in favor of jail expansion because it isn't the cost-efficient nor the correct solution for the issue at hand.
Looking at the data, a large number of incarcerated individuals are in the county jail because of failure to appear warrants and drug charges -- two things that can be mitigated by investing in programs like pretrial services that are focused on helping people meet their court obligations and a rehabilitative approach to drug use rather than a punitive one, May said.
He is running because he wants to see Benton County continue to grow and prepare for future growth, he said.
"I have seen what happens to cities who do not prepare for the growth that they receive and as a result spend countless years and money just playing catch-up," May said.
Benton County justices of the peace are paid $267 per meeting of the Quorum Court, Committee of the Whole and Finance Committee.
Benton County justice of the peace, District 5
Carrie Perrien Smith (R)
Residency: Rogers; has lived in District 5 for 20 years
Occupation: Communications and publishing consultant
Education: Master of business administration degree from John Brown University, Siloam Springs
Political Experience: Benton County Quorum Court, 2019 to present; ran unsuccessfully for Rogers City Council in 2012 and 2014 and Rogers mayor in 2016
Christian May (D)
Residency: Rogers for two years
Occupation: Patient consultant at The Source, Rogers
Education: Currently attending University of Arkansas, studying sociology
Political Experience: None