Thumbnail sketch of upcoming local elections

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Only one of 11 positions on the quorum court will be contested in the 2020 election. Justice of the Peace Harrie Farrow, who represents District 3, will once again face Fergie Stewart, whom she defeated in the 2018 election.

Farrow is in her first term on quorum court, and although she had served on the Eureka Springs Parks Commission, this is her first elective office.

In an Independent interview, she said her first year has “gone well,” and she has enjoyed the opportunity to represent Eureka Springs. “Lamont Richie broke a lot of ground in representing Eureka’s interests at the county level,” she said. When Richie decided not to run for re-election in 2018, he endorsed Farrow.

She began attending quorum court meetings about a year before the election, so procedures at the table have been “about what I expected.” Farrow said she has appreciated the way the JPs “respect each other” despite varied priorities in different parts of the county. Farrow will continue to advocate for some form of county land planning, and she cited the exploration for a quarry operation on Rockhouse Road last year as an example of the way development could threaten the county.

Despite its location, just an hour from the densely populated cities of Northwest Arkansas, the county has preserved its natural beauty, Farrow said, and “we need to continue protecting the environment.”

Looking ahead to 2020, Farrow said she will work toward the maintenance and management of county property. The possibility of replacing the county’s radio system will be a big issue in the coming year. “No one has really good answers,” she said. “I wish we had made more headway already on this issue.”

Stewart presently serves on the Planning Commission and has advocated for economic development in the area. In an interview last week, Stewart said he would work to expand the county’s economy. He mentioned increasing businesses at the county airport, and participating in First Responder Network and Civil Air Patrol

JP Jack Deaton, who represents Holiday Island, spoke with the Independent about the lack of opposition for the 2020 election. Deaton is halfway through his fourth term on the quorum court, and said the current group of JPs have worked well together. “All our JPs are sincere, and really want to represent their constituents,” he said. Deaton also commended the quorum court members for their work on committee assignments.

Representing District 2, JP Chuck Olson said the current quorum court has built a reputation for avoiding politics and focusing on issues. “We’re basically a ‘nuts and bolts’ type of quorum court,” he said. Olson is currently in the middle of his third term, and has taken a leading role in maintenance of county buildings.

In a telephone interview, JP Larry Swofford provided some perspective. He has served 27 years on the quorum court, representing District 10 in the Oak Grove area. In response to a question about the low level of opposition, Swofford agreed that would indicate general contentment with the current members. “Either that, or nobody else wants to do it,” he added with a laugh. On a more serious note, Swofford said quorum court meetings have become more businesslike in the past few years, with little trace of party politics.

Swofford said when he began serving on the quorum court, someone watching from the gallery would not know the JPs’ party affiliation. The present court has worked the same way, “and it’s running as well as ever,” he said. Swofford has begun filing as an Independent, and said he would like to see party distinctions removed entirely at the county level.

Candidates for city council do not have a party affiliation, and they do not have to file for office until Aug.5, three months in advance of the election. The filing deadline for JPs fell almost a year in advance of the election, and JPs only serve two-year terms.

School board elections will coincide with the March 3 primary. In Berryville, Linda Winkle is unopposed, and Chris McClung, Al Larson, and Travis Holloway are unopposed for re-election to the Eureka Springs School Board. In Green Forest, Jeff Boggs is unopposed in Zone 3, but Alechia Meador will challenge incumbent Peggy James for Position 1.

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