FAYETTEVILLE -- A pair of political newcomers face each other in the race for the District 5 seat on the Washington County Quorum Court.
Kyle Lyons was unopposed in the Republican Party primary while Dawn Cate-Bonner had no opposition in the Democratic primary.
Patrick Deakins didn't run for reelection.
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 currently has four Democrats and 11 Republicans.
District 5 includes the northeastern corner of Washington County.
Early voting starts Monday. Election Day is Nov. 8.
Cate-Bonner said she's running to bring more openness to county government.
"It seems that the Quorum Court is very divided and not very open to hearing comments or criticism from the public," she said. "That is very disheartening. I work with people, and I know how to get along, to hear people out and to make decisions."
Lyons said he wants to keep county government focused on its legal and constitutional duties.
"I think our leadership needs to be more attuned to our constitutional obligations and to protecting the rights of the people," he said. "I want to provide that service."
The candidates split on one of the biggest issues facing Washington County: a proposal to increase the sales tax 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, which would expire when the bonds are paid.
Cate-Bonner doesn't favor the proposal.
"I don't like it, and I don't believe the sales tax should be used to expand the jail at this time," she said. "We need to think of other ways we can deal with overcrowding in the jail."
Lyons said he dislikes increasing the sales tax but said operating a county jail is something Arkansas counties are mandated to do.
"Overall, I'm for smaller government and less taxes, but the government has to get back to providing the services it is required to provide," he said. "Given all that, I think this is what we have to do."
Cate-Bonner said the jail crowding issue includes many other issues, such as mental health, education and jobs. She said the county also has its responsibilities to provide roads and good quality drinking water.
"I want to listen to my constituents to learn what they are concerned about," she said.
Lyons said he's interested in issues such as county planning and zoning and how that can encourage or discourage economic growth.
"People have to jump through all these hoops and go through all this red tape," he said. "That's not welcoming business to the neighborhood."
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 per meeting for Quorum Court and committee meetings they attend.
Justice of the Peace
Kyle Lyons (R)
Residency: Just outside Springdale for seven years
Occupation: Program manager providing technology solutions for businesses
Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science from Middle Tennessee State University
Political Experience: None
Dawn Cate-Bonner (D)
Residency: Lifelong resident of Springdale
Occupation: Broker for Walmart vendors
Education: Springdale High School
Political Experience: None