BENTONVILLE -- Republican incumbent Joel Edwards will face Libertarian Brian Leach for the Benton County justice of the peace District 15 seat.
The district covers the middle of Benton County including northern Centerton and western Bentonville. Its southern border is Arkansas 102. Its northern border is Short Road and Punkin Hollow Road.
Early voting will start Monday. Election Day is Nov. 8.
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. Each justice of the peace represents a district of roughly equal population.
The Benton County Quorum Court is currently made up of 15 Republicans.
The biggest issue the county faces in the next five years is the the same issue every government in Northwest Arkansas is dealing with -- how to handle the tremendous population growth, Edwards said. An example of that is the need for a jail expansion.
Edwards is in favor of jail expansion, which voters will decide Nov. 8.
"I don't think you can tour the facility or talk to people who work there without seeing the need for an expansion," he said. "There is a reason there are three counties in Northwest Arkansas all trying to expand their jails. You cannot have the growth we are experiencing without expanding the services the county provides, and whether we like it or not, we have a constitutional requirement to provide a jail."
Edwards said he is the best candidate for District 15 because voters want solutions to complex problems and are tired of political posturing and grandstanding just to get reelected or, worse, position themselves for higher office.
Managing growth in a responsible manner with minimum cost to the taxpayer is the biggest issue the county faces in the next five years, Leach said. Instead of expanding the jail, "we should be putting less people in jail," he said.
Edwards shouldn't have supported putting the jail tax on the ballot, Leach said.
"Not supporting the tax doesn't imply anti-law enforcement; it means we pay enough sales taxes, and I'm certain the voters agree with me," Leach said.
Leach said he is the best candidate because the two-party system "has messed up our country long enough. New perspectives and new ideas are desperately needed in government."
Benton County justices of the peace are paid $267 per meeting for Quorum Court, Committee of the Whole and Finance Committee meetings.
Benton County Justice of the Peace
Joel Edwards (R)
Residency: Centerton for nine years
Occupation: IT manager with Arvest Bank
Education: Master’s degree in information assurance from Capitol Technology University in South Laurel, Md.
Political experience: Benton County Quorum Court, 2017 to present
Brian Leach (L)
Residency: Centerton for one year
Occupation: Software engineer; works remotely for a company headquartered in Nashville, Tenn.
Education: Master of business administration from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Political experience: Ran unsuccessfully for Sebastian County Quorum Court three times as a Libertarian