Robertson, Higginbotham in running for Sebastian County District 10 JP seat

James Higginbotham (left) and Dickie Robertson
James Higginbotham (left) and Dickie Robertson

FORT SMITH -- Voters in Sebastian County Quorum Court's District 10 will decide between Dickie Robertson, a Democrat, and James Higginbotham, a Republican, in the Nov. 8 general election.

Neither candidate faced opposition in the May 24 primary election. Robertson currently serves on the Quorum Court.

District 10 consists of a portion of Fort Smith north of Park Avenue and south of North O Street, as well as an adjacent portion between North Albert Pike Avenue and North 50th Street that juts north to Windsor Drive, according to a map provided by the county.

Robertson is general manager of Armored Transport Service and co-owner of On The Border Trike Shop in Fort Smith, as well as a retired pastor.

Robertson believes his work history, along with his involvement with the county and various service organizations, gives him experience in certain fields that make him the better candidate. This includes payroll, human resources, specialty vehicles, writing and receiving grants and budgeting large sums of money. He said he also has a good working relationship with county employees and elected officials.

Robertson said if reelected, he would work to help finish proposed projects the Quorum Court has discussed funding with money from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. This includes projects to upgrade the county Health Department and address crowding issues at the county jail.

The county was allocated $24.8 million for covid-19 pandemic relief.

"Some of that money can be used for general operations, but some of it is for special projects, and there's a lot of limitations put on us as to how that money is to be spent by the federal government," Robertson said.

He said he also wants to see projects that will bring new business into the county.

Higginbotham owns Elite Lawn Care Services in Fort Smith. He said he has worked for Chick-fil-A and was involved in the 4‑H youth development organization as well.

Higginbotham believes he could bring a fresh, younger approach to county business if elected to the Quorum Court, though he would look forward to learning from the older justices of the peace already there. He said growing up "quite poor" taught him how to do well with limited resources.

"I think there's a lot of opportunity in Sebastian County for expansion, to allocate these resources appropriately to help with business -- local businesses, small businesses -- to ensure our rights and liberties and freedoms, and also simple things such as voting integrity," he said.

Higginbotham said he would work to help the county Sheriff's Office better retain employees and reduce crime. This includes a prevalence of drugs like fentanyl, methamphetamine and heroin.

He also would try to improve the county criminal justice system to help alleviate the crowding at the jail. He noted many jail inmates belong to the state while others have to stay there while waiting to be processed through the county court system.

Early voting for the general election starts Oct. 24.

Sebastian County justice of the peace positions are two-year terms with an annual salary of $6,813, according to the county.

Dickie Robertson (D)

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Age: 63

Residence: Fort Smith. Lived in District 10 since 2007

Employment: General manager, Armored Transport Service, Fort Smith; co-owner, On The Border Trike Shop, Fort Smith; retired pastor, Heart of Worship Church, Fort Smith

Education: Northside High School; attended Westark Junior College (now University of Arkansas at Fort Smith)

Political Experience: Sebastian County justice of the peace since 2011; unsuccessful candidate for District 6 justice of the peace, 1996

James Higginbotham (R)

Age: 34

Residence: Fort Smith. Lived in District 10 since 2019

Employment: Owner, Elite Lawn Care Services, Fort Smith

Education: Graduated home school; attended University of Arkansas at Fort Smith

Political Experience: None