Sexton, Phillips join race for Benton County prosecuting attorney

Sarah Phillips and Bryan Sexton

BENTONVILLE -- There will be a race for the Benton County prosecuting attorney's job, with two people filing so far this week to get on the March 5 ballot.

Bryan Sexton, the chief deputy of the Prosecuting Attorney's Office, filed Monday. Sarah Phillips, a former Benton County deputy prosecutor, filed Wednesday.

The nonpartisan position came open after Nathan Smith resigned from the office last month to take a position with Walmart.

Sexton, 45, of Bentonville has been a member of the Benton County Prosecuting Attorney's Office for 17 years and has handled homicides, gang and sex crimes, and drug cases during his career.

He was hired in 2006 and was the deputy prosecutor for seven years in both the county's drug court and veterans court programs.

Sexton said he's conducted officer training with the Northwest Arkansas Community College Child Advocacy Studies program to help officers investigate and combat child abuse.

"Benton County is my home, and I've been blessed to serve its people," Sexton said. "I want to ensure that this community remains the vibrant and growing place I love. I will lead an office that supports the efforts of our law enforcement community and protects our children and the defenseless by putting violent and sexual offenders behind bars."

Sexton is a magna cum laude graduate of Harding University and graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law. He is a member of the Benton County Bar Association and the Arkansas Bar Association. He and his wife Jennifer have been married for 13 years and have one son.

Phillips, 31, of Rogers was a deputy prosecutor and was assigned to handle sex crimes involving children.

Phillips currently works as a senior manager of the global Threat Management Team at Walmart, where she works to identify and prevent violence against people and businesses. She consults with law enforcement, prosecutors, mental health professionals, corporate security experts and parole personnel across the United States.

School safety will be one of her top priorities, she said.

"We cannot allow our investment in our schools and hometown to become scarred by the violence and crime that accompany other cities' population growth," Phillips said. "I agree with those who say our criminal justice system takes too long to help innocent victims of crime. I believe we should give victims a voice in the punishment phase and at parole hearings."

Phillips attended the University of Arkansas School of Law and the Fulbright Honors College.

The elected prosecutor will take office Jan. 1, 2025, and will serve the remainder of Smith's term, which runs through 2026.

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders appointed Joshua Robinson on Oct. 30 to serve as interim prosecuting attorney. Robinson was the senior deputy prosecuting attorney for the office.

The filing period runs until 3 p.m. Tuesday.

  photo  Bryan Sexton
  photo  Sarah Phillips