Helena-West Helena, AR -- On Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at 4:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers of the Helena Municipal Building, Ray Foran, Robert Ford, David Lawman, Fred Smith and Wayne Webb, will square off in a discussion about the future of the Office of the Phillips County Sheriff and Tax Collector. This debate will be recorded and will air on KJIW FM 94.5 beginning at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday night.
These candidates are seeking the Democratic Nomination. The winner will face two independent candidates in the November General Election: Mr. Neal Byrd and Mr. John Tilson.
Sheriff Ronnie White, who has served since January 1, 2001, is not seeking re-election. Sheriff White's departure has left an opening through which eight (8) men are striving to cross. Sheriff White succeeded Sheriff T. L. Green (May 1, 2000 - December 31, 2000) who was appointed by the Phillips County Quorum Court to serve out the remainder of Sheriff Kenneth Winfrey's term.
Sheriff Winfrey served from 1987 through his retirement on April 30, 2000. Winfrey succeeded Sheriff Marion Selmo Hickey (1967-1986) who had succeeded his father, Sheriff Edgar Putnam Hickey (1947-1966). Phillips County had another father son team elected during different time periods. F. F. Kitchen served 1898-1910 and 1916-1921 and Frank F. Kitchen, Jr. 1931-1946. Joseph Barlow served as Sheriff between 1929 and 1931 and J. D. Mays was Sheriff from 1921 to 1928. Records are incomplete regarding who served as Sheriff between 1910 and 1916.
The Sheriff and Tax Collector is elected to serve two (2) year terms and often is re-elected to serve until retirement, resignation or death. Therefore, the winner of the May Primary or June Runoff (if needed) will have history on his side.
Here's what Wikipedia says about Sheriffs in Arkansas:
In Arkansas, sheriffs and their deputies are fully empowered peace officers with county-wide jurisdiction and thus, may legally exercise their authority in unincorporated and incorporated areas of a county. All peace officers in Arkansas, whether sheriffs, city police, state troopers, or constables, have state-wide arrest powers for any felony criminal offense committed within their presence or view.
The duties of an Arkansas sheriff generally include providing law enforcement services to residents, managing county jail(s), and providing bailiffs for the county, district, circuit, and other courts within the county.
With very limited exceptions, sheriffs and their deputies may exercise their official authority only within the geographical boundaries of their specific county.
The office of sheriff was created by the state constitution and the office has not been substantially changed in 100 years.
Sheriffs in Arkansas are elected in even numbered years by citizens of their county to serve a term of two (2) years in office in accordance with the state constitution. Sheriffs rely upon the county's legislative body, known as the "Quorum Court", to appropriate funding and approve the yearly operating budget. However, in all other circumstances, the sheriff is entirely independent in the management of his elected office and is not subservient to or accountable to any other elected county official or body.
In some counties of Arkansas, a sheriff cannot campaign for reelection while wearing a county owned badge.
If you would like to participate, please email questions to debate@insidescooponline or use our twitter handle @scooponline and hash tag #pcsodebate.