FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Half a dozen candidates are vying to be Washington County’s next judge, with a pair of Democrats and four Republicans on the primary ballot.
The seat was vacated by Judge Joseph Wood, who is seeking the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor.
Josh Moody has been a teacher at the Washington County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) for the past eight years, and on his campaign website said he believes in “compromise, civil discourse, mutual respect and listening to each other”.
He earned a business degree from the University of Arkansas, with a major in human resource management and a minor in psychology.
“We must break the cycles of poverty and incarceration by creating more opportunities for struggling families,” he said.
Expansion of the prison
Moody said he does not support an expansion of the Washington County Jail at this time. He said he would like to see more investment in programs to help keep people out of jail.
“Let’s work on alternatives and successful initiatives that have worked, you know, across the country and in different regions that have had success, that have dropped recidivism, that have made communities safer without incarceration, incarceration is a band-aid,” Moody said.
Moody said he would like to see the quorum court consider implementing more recommendations from the 2019 study that looked at alternatives to prison expansion.
“Many of the people currently incarcerated do not pose a threat to the community,” Moody said. “We are just mad at them and want to lock them up and unfortunately they are too poor to buy their freedom.”
Moody said many county tasks, such as roads and the animal shelter, are nonpartisan and he wants to make sure the quorum court finds common ground. He said he wanted to see the public be more involved in the decision-making process.
“We should rely on these people and these experts in the field, in the service, in the business world, to understand how we can manage the population growth and manage the overall growth here in this field,” Moody said.
Moody said he was running in “purple” to bring a compromise to the county government.
“I would like to kind of bring more civil speech back into the quorum hearing room,” Moody said.
He also said he wanted to focus on investing US bailout money in diversion programs.
“Invest in proactive and rehabilitative services for people, including expanding drug court, expanding veterans services, setting up a mental health court,” Moody said. .
Moody said he would also like to address homelessness.
His opponent in the Democratic primary is Charles Ward, a veteran of the United States Navy. Ward graduated from Elkins High School and attended Northwest Arkansas Community College.
Ward worked for the county for 15 years, spending nearly 14 years with the Department of Highways, where he served as Superintendent of Highways. He left his county job in March 2021 to start his own business.
Ward said the county needs to assess its roads and bridges, understand how the county’s growth is changing transportation improvement needs, and have a plan to meet those needs.
KNWA/FOX 24 contacted Charles Ward for an interview, but we were unavailable.
Patrick Deacins is a Washington County Justice of the Peace for District 5 and has served two terms on the Court of Quorum while currently serving as Chairman of the Finance Committee and Vice Chairman of the Prisons and Law Enforcement Committee. He is also a CPA and CEO of Peritum, where he currently practices tax planning and preparation.
“I think the county government should be a link between our local industry and nonprofit organizations,” he said. “When the three work together and collaborate, we can overcome any obstacle and create a better future for all of our citizens.”
Deakins said he fully supports putting a prison expansion on the November ballot.
“We need to have space as we grow for individuals in our prison and even have space for these types of programs and that’s why I think these changes are very much needed,” Deakins said.
Deakins said he is committed to working with Sheriff Helder to ensure an expansion moves forward.
Deakins said he will set the county’s agenda and make sure the quorum court knows where the county is headed.
“I want to try to illustrate the challenges and the opportunities that I see as a county judge that way I can give them the information they need to help us meet those challenges,” Deakins said.
Deakins said his focus is on county roads and expanding the jail.
“We need to do a better job on our roads and that’s one thing if you live in Springdale and Fayetteville, it’s a whole other thing if you live in rural parts of the county and live on a dirt road” , says Deakins.
He said he also wants to make sure the county hires and retains people for the road department.
According to its website, Marc Scalise is “the only candidate for Washington County judge who has a law degree and who is a practicing attorney, the only candidate with an engineering degree, and the only candidate with more than 30 years of experience in business and business management.”
He is a lawyer in private practice, businessman and former deputy prosecutor.
Scalise said he fully supports county jail expansion and would like to see the question on the November ballot.
“Unfortunately some not great people are also moving here and we have to get ahead,” Scalise said. “We need to put it on the ballot, put it to a vote and let the people decide if they want to spend the money on expanding the prison.”
Scalise said the prison needed to be expanded to keep up with the region’s population growth.
Scalise said his experience in Corporate America makes him ready to interact with all kinds of people.
“When I deal with the quorum court, there are different factions, points of view, very passionate and I would like to bring civility and a little common sense at least in finding what we have in common,” said Scalise.
Scalise said he would like to tackle county infrastructure. He said the county will need to improve roads as the population grows.
“It’s historically a rural county so most of the roads are farm roads, very skinny, not really made for all the traffic they’re seeing right now, especially coming in, so we have to focus on the widening and paving of roads in the county,” Scalise said.
Scalise said his engineering degree makes him ready to hit the roads.
Tom A. Terminelle has lived in Fayetteville since 1970, graduating from Fayetteville High School in 1985. He has worked in the real estate industry for over 30 years.
On his campaign website, he says he “understands how to drive positive economic growth and how we can work together to preserve our unique culture and enable Washington County to be the best it can be.”
KNWA/FOX 24 reached out to Terminella for an interview, but he wasn’t available until Tuesday.
Sharon Jay Lloyd of Prairie Grove has served as Grants Administrator for Washington County for the past five years. Prior to that, she spent 22 years in education as a teacher, special education director and administrator.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from Missouri Southern State University and a master’s degree from the University of Houston. She also served as a Justice of the Peace for Washington County, representing District 2 from 2015 to 2016.
“I have actively sought grants to reduce the tax burden for residents of Washington County,” she said when announcing her candidacy. She also expressed a desire to reduce the county sales tax rate to 1.25%.
Lloyd said she was in favor of expanding the prison and has done so since returning to quorum court in 2016.
“It’s a shame that we have to go this route to expand our prison, but we need to know that there are people on the streets who have committed crimes that are not safe for our community, so a prison expansion must take place,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd said to bring quorum to the court, she would like to see all justices of the peace sit on the county budget and finance committee.
“The 15 members of the budget and finance committee, I think that will help a lot because everyone will have a say when the committee meetings meet and so when the quorum tribunal meets, a lot of things will have already been paid,” Lloyd said.
She said everyone is elected equally so everyone should have a say on the pitch.
Lloyd said she would like to focus on improving roads and bridges. She said her experience working with infrastructure grants as a county grants administrator makes her ready for the job.
“In Washington County, we take the highways, our county roads, and our county bridges seriously, so I would like to make sure everything runs smoothly,” Lloyd said. “At the moment it is, but there are improvements to be made.”
Early voting is now underway across the state. If you need to verify your voter registration, you can do so here. Election day is May 24. KNWA is your local electoral headquarters, and you can follow all of our coverage here.