FAYETTEVILLE -- Roger Brooks and David Wilson, both political newcomers, are competing for the District 2 seat on the Washington County Quorum Court.
Brooks was unopposed in the Democratic Party primary election. Wilson defeated Tom Mulcahy for the Republican Party nomination.
The Quorum Court is the legislative body of county government and is composed of members called justices of the peace, who are elected to two-year terms. The 15-member Washington County Quorum Court has four Democrats and 11 Republicans.
Early voting starts Oct. 24. Election Day is Nov. 8.
Wilson said he thinks his experience in education, including 15 years as a principal, will help him deal with the issues he will face on the Quorum Court.
Brooks said his business background, including 10 years as a project manager, will give him insight into how government works.
The two candidates split on the need to expand the Washington County jail with Wilson saying he favors the plan and Brooks opposing it.
The Quorum Court in July approved an ordinance setting a Nov. 8 special election on a proposal to issue up to $113.5 million in bonds for a jail expansion and up to $28.5 million in bonds for a Juvenile Justice Center expansion project. The bonds would be paid by a 0.25% sales tax increase that would expire when the bonds are paid.
Brooks said expanding the size of the jail doesn't address the real causes of crowding.
"Personally, I'm not for the expansion of the jail, nor am I for an increase in the sales tax," he said. "The majority of individuals in the jail have some kind of mental health issues or addiction issues. I think that money could be better spent for us to explore other avenues than incarceration."
Wilson said he tends to favor the jail expansion project, but he's glad the county left the decision up to the voters.
"Nobody wants any additional tax," he said. "This issue has been discussed back and forth for quite some time. To put it in the hands of the voters may be the wisest course of action for the county."
Both candidates said they want to see the county pay more attention to infrastructure issues, including county roads.
Each justice of the peace represents a district of roughly equal population. Redistricting for justice of the peace seats took place late last year. District 2 includes parts of Springdale north of Shady Grove Road and south of Har-Ber Avenue and between Thompson Street on the east and Arkansas 112 on the west.
Washington County justices of the peace are paid $200 for each Quorum Court and committee meeting they attend.
Justice of the Peace
David Wilson (R)
Residency: Springdale for six years
Occupation: Retired, high school administrator
Education: Doctorate in educational leadership, University of Missouri
Political Experience: None
Roger Brooks (D)
Residency: Springdale for five years
Occupation: Project manager
Education: Master’s in business administration from Baker University in Baldwin, Kan.
Political Experience: None