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Foster challenging incumbent Dennis for Washington County Quorum Court in District 10

by Tom Sissom | October 21, 2022 at 4:30 a.m.
Robert Dennis (left) faces Amanda Foster for the District 10 seat on the Washington County Quorum Court.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Amanda Foster is challenging Robert Dennis for the District 10 seat on the Washington County Quorum Court.

Foster was unopposed in the Democratic Party primary while Dennis faced no opponents in the Republican Party primary.

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.

District 10 includes parts of Fayetteville south of Wedington Drive and west of Interstate 49 and parts of eastern Farmington.

Early voting starts Monday. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Dennis, who currently serves on the Quorum Court, said he's running again so he can put his experience to work for his constituents.

"I would have six years of experience at it, so I know that position," he said. "My life experience has been broad, and you really need to know a lot of different things."

Foster said she ran after watching how the Quorum Court handled the federal covid-19 relief money received by Washington County.

"I saw that our nonprofits were in need of funding so they could better serve the community," Foster said. "I watched at least two nonprofits beg for funding, and they got nothing. I felt our community was not being represented well."

The candidates split on one of the biggest issues facing Washington County now, a proposal to expand the county's jail.

The Quorum Court in July approved 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.

Dennis said he understands some people will struggle if the county sales tax is increased, but the need for the jail expansion is real and the cost will only increase if it is delayed.

"I wanted to do it six years ago," he said. "Had we done it then, the same jail we're talking about now would have cost $40 million instead of $100 million. I think that was a terrible mistake."

Foster said the county paid for a study of alternatives to building a bigger jail and needs to try to implement the recommendations of that study before expanding the jail.

"I know we have an overcrowding problem," she said. "But in 2019, the Quorum Court paid for a study of possible solutions to the overcrowding, and they have not used any of those recommendations."

Foster said the county also needs to prioritize basic infrastructure, such as county roads, and try to improve working conditions for county employees.

Dennis also said the county should look at its infrastructure, saying as the area's population keeps growing, more and more people are building homes in the county and driving to cities to work.

Each justice of the peace represents a district of roughly equal population. Redistricting for justice of the peace seats took place late last year.

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

Washington County justice of the peace, District 10

Robert Dennis (R)

Age: 71

Residency: Rural Washington County for more than 60 years

Occupation: Retired from working for Walmart vendors

Education: Attended the University of Arkansas

Political Experience: Washington County Quorum Court, 2014 to 2018 and 2021 to present

Amanda Foster (D)

Age: 33

Residency: Just outside Farmington for 10 years

Occupation: Mortgage underwriter for Arvest Bank

Education: Attended the University of Arkansas

Political Experience: None


Print Headline: Foster challenging Dennis for District 10 seat


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