BENTONVILLE -- There will be a new Benton County District 14 justice of the peace after the Nov. 8 election.
Seat holder and Republican Leigh Nogy lost the primary election in May to Bethany Henry Rosenbaum.
Rosenbaum and Brent Fiegle, a Libertarian, are facing off in next month's election. Early voting starts Oct. 24.
The district is the southernmost on the east side. Its southern and eastern borders are the Benton County borders. It covers a large portion of the southern area of Beaver Lake. It also covers a small eastern portion of Springdale and Lowell.
The Quorum Court is the legislative body of county government whose members are called justices of the peace and are elected to two-year terms. The Benton County Quorum Court is currently made up of 15 Republicans.
Benton County's growth is expected to reach over 500,000 by 2045. Fundamental responsibilities of the county government are law and order including the county jail and circuit court, as defined by the Arkansas Constitution.
Fiegle said one of the biggest issues he sees in the county is growth without long-term planning or thinking. As an example, high-density housing is approved without ensuring roads and infrastructure are in place, he said.
The county jail needs to be expanded to meet current demands and the needs of a growing community, Rosenbaum said. Law and order are primary duties of the county government that impact quality of life. A safe community is the backbone of sustained and healthy growth, she said.
"The county jail expansion arguably serves our greatest need because it fulfills our constitutional responsibility, ensures our laws are followed, serves as an effective deterrent to recidivate crime, keeps our communities safe and continues to welcome healthy growth in Northwest Arkansas," she said.
Fiegle is against jail expansion.
"I think that the government can be more efficient with the taxes they are already collecting and that there is a tendency to try to justify filling a jail once it's built," he said. "The United States is the most incarcerated population in the world by a large margin. Treating drug addiction and finding alternatives to jail, like meaningful community service, would be a much better use of resources. Jailing people for offenses other than violent behavior keeps them from being or becoming productive and contributing members of society."
Rosenbaum said she is committed to being the voice of District 14.
"As JP, I will ensure that the needs of District 14 are addressed and that resources are evenly distributed to benefit all families," she said. "I am a strong advocate for civic engagement who will strive to keep District 14 informed and maintain the flow of communication both ways to ensure accountability. My dedication to public service, community and church leadership, commitment to education, experience working with city and county governments, paired with fierce moral conviction, make me the strongest candidate for justice of the peace serving District 14."
Fiegle said he is the best candidate for District 14 "because I believe people should have at least some choice when voting rather than leaving it up to political parties to appoint. There are options and viewpoints other than the traditional Republican and Democrat viewpoints."
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
Bethany Henry Rosenbaum (R)
Residency: Lowell for seven years; Northwest Arkansas for 10 years
Occupation: Professor at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville in the history department
Education: Doctorate in history from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; master’s degree in history from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; bachelor’s degree in anthropology and history from the University of Missouri in Columbia.
Political experience: Lowell City Council, January 2021 to present; Benton County Planning Board, June 2020 to present; Lowell Planning Commission, May 2018 to December 2020
Brent Fiegle (L)
Residency: Bentonville since 2019
Occupation: Software engineer, consults remotely with the Arizona Department of Transportation
Education: Bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and information systems from Western Governors University
Political experience: None