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Simons, Meeks square off in Washington County Quorum Court District 3 race

by Tom Sissom | October 17, 2022 at 1:15 a.m.
Democrat Justin Meeks (left) is trying to unseat Republican Sean Simons in the race for justice of the peace for District 3 in Washington County.

FAYETTEVILLE --Democrat Justin Meeks is trying to unseat Republican Sean Simons in the race for justice of the peace for District 3 in Washington County.

Both were unopposed in their parties' primaries.

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.

Meeks said he wants to bring ideas, not politics, to the Quorum Court.

"The hyper-partisanship we've seen in Washington and across the country has also run amok in Washington County," he said. "I decided to run because the county needs more problem-solvers."

Simons said he wants to work to educate people about the real problems facing Washington County.

"As a fiscal conservative, I want to offer practical, common-sense legislation on the county level," he said.

The two candidates split on their views of one of the biggest issues facing the county: a proposed expansion of the Washington County Detention Center.

The Quorum Court in July approved an ordinance setting a Nov. 8 special election on a proposal to issue of 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.

Simons said that while he isn't "a fan" of increasing the sales tax, Washington County has a obligation under the state constitution to provide for the Sheriff's Office and jail.

"With Washington County facing the growth it has seen, the level of criminal activity has continued to rise, putting a strain on our already inadequate facilities. It's been talked about for 10 years, so this is a looming need."

Meeks said he opposes both the sales tax increase and the expansion of the jail.

"I don't think the sales tax is the right answer," he said. "I think we have got to explore alternatives like the Crisis Stabilization Unit and other programs to make sure we are not locking people up for having mental health issues."

Meeks said his experience in cyber-security has generated an interest in the ways the county uses technology and how taxpayer and voter information can be protected.

Simons said the county needs to examine its priorities, focusing on employee pay and benefits and on looking for ways to find new revenue through grants or other means.

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 3 includes parts of northwest Springdale, both north and south of Backus Avenue from Ball Street in the west to Thompson Street in the east.

Washington County justices of the peace are paid $200 per meeting for Quorum Court and committee meetings they attend.

  photo  Justin Meeks, Democratic candidate for JP 3 in Washington County
  photo  Sean Simons, R., Washington County JP 3 candidate

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Washington County

Justice of the Peace

District 3

Justin Meeks (D)

Age: 32

Residency: One year in Springdale

Occupation: Cyber-security risk specialist

Education: Juris doctor degree from New York Law School

Political experience: Justice of the peace in Saline County from 2011 to 2013

Sean Simons (R)

Age: 34

Residency: Springdale resident for 10 years.

Occupation: Owner of Lighthouse Insurance and Financial Group

Education: Bachelor’s degree in communications and public relations

Political experience: Serving first term on Quorum Court


Print Headline: Simons, Meeks square off in District 3 race for Quorum Court


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