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"Progress moves at the speed of trust."

- STEPHEN COVEY

WHERE I COME FROM

I am a lifelong Arkansan, father of two thoughtful and amazing kids, and an incredibly lucky husband. I was born at Springdale Northwest, first lived in Lincoln just a walk from the rodeo grounds, and for the past 21 years, I have been proud to call Fayetteville my home.  I am Washington County through and through.  

 

Most of my 14-year teaching career was at the Washington County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC)Working there changed my life.  For eight years, I bled, sweated, and cried for those kids.  I now know that I have to do more from the outside to create an environment in which we incarcerate less of them. In 2016, I helped create a diversion program for high-risk youth that successfully reduced recidivism and is still flourishing. I know first-hand that diversion programs work. We can expand and adapt them to the adult world. 

I earned a Business Degree from the University of Arkansas. I majored in Human Resource Management and minored in Psychology. I want to help people work, both by finding them employment and helping them through life's daily struggles.  After working in the HR office of a manufacturing plant and as a non-profit executive serving youth, I was bitten by the teacher bug and went through the non-traditional licensure program. 

In college and beyond, I delivered food for local restaurants, or as I tell my kids, who are both new drivers, I drove professionally for four years. In college, I unloaded UPS trucks from 4 - 9am before class. My summer job was working as a Firewatch on offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. In high school, I operated a fork lift for a small business and worked at a grocery store.  

As you can see, I've seen and done a lot. Because of that I have respect and empathy for all work and people.  

OUR COUNTY

I have lived most of my life in Washington County and know that it is a great place to live but is not great for everybody all the time.  We need to break the cycles of poverty and incarceration by creating more opportunities for struggling families.  

In today's 24-hour news cycle and social media world, it is easy to forget that our local government affects our daily lives much more than the national government does.  I am the only candidate who attends most Washington County government meetings without being paid to be there. I find it frustrating and disheartening to see the lack of empathy or interest many of our elected officials have for our neighbors.   

THE ISSUES

01

Government Spending:

The Quorum Court is asking Washington County voters to spend $113M ($1/8 Billion Band-Aid) on a jail expansion with no plan on how to staff or maintain it.  We're ignoring independent recommendations for how to avoid needing a bigger jail, and we paid $60,000 for that study (see here).  Talk about wasted tax dollars! Can our local businesses and residents afford this increase? From the folks I've talked to in our community, the resounding answer is NO! 

I would use American Rescue Funds (that we already have) to implement the recommendations put forth in the Criminal Justice System Assessment by the National Center for State Courts.  These are national best practices that have proven to save taxpayer dollars in other regions.  Then and only then, if we still need to expand the jail, I will be the first to recommend doing so.  The data tell me it won’t be necessary.

02

Transparency:

If elected, I would invite any and all residents who have the time, resources, motivation, and expertise to help come up with solutions to better serve us all.  There are already organizations serving our area.  Government shouldn’t and doesn’t have to do it all.  Our county Government should ensure those services are being connected to the people who need them.  I would lead our county government to remain of the people, by the people, and for the people. 

03

Culture Wars:

My opponent has spent the last year or so making sweeping proclamations that have nothing to do with local government.  This is a smoke screen to distract from what is really going on behind the scenes. I vow to focus only on what we as a county government can do to better serve its citizens and leave the grandstanding to the feds.  Let’s make county government beautifully boring and perfectly functional again!

04

Local Economy:

In November 2020, Washington County received $4.5M that was intended to be used for community pandemic recovery, including for small businesses.  The Quorum Court spent some of it on county infrastructure items and put the remaining $3.4M in the county's general fund even though they already had a surplus for the year. I would have set up an application process for local entrepreneurs to apply for funds if needed to keep them afloat and granted them in an objective, sustainable way.  I believe it is important to support the local economy, and small family-owned businesses are the heart of that.

05

Invest in People:

Emergency rental assistance has been distributed at a snail's pace and in some cases too late for those who need it.  We can and should do a better job at figuring out who needs it and how to get it to them before they are evicted.

 

The Crisis Stabilization Unit, intended to divert people having mental health emergencies from the jail, has been unstable, and at times, completely and needlessly shut down due to a lack of proactive leadership by the county.  UAMS has stepped in and will hopefully be a long-term partner. Had I been involved; I would have ensured that the CSU seamlessly remained in operation rather than allow it to quietly discontinue service and hope the public didn’t notice.

 

The highest paid employees have been given substantial raises while the lowest paid employees were told to wait their turn and hope for whatever's left.  The wheels on the bus are what moves it from Point A to Point B.  The steering wheel is worthless without them. We should focus on giving a livable wage to those on the ground, be it roads department, detention and enforcement officers, or custodians.  Without these essential workers, we cannot serve the people of the county to the best of our ability.  The act of widening the income gap within our departments tells you all you need to know about their opinions on income inequality as a whole. 

06

Dysfunctional Departments:

The Juvenile Detention Center became dysfunctional.  This administration’s apathy has caused additional trauma to our county’s most vulnerable youth.  I would ensure a strong and healthy work environment and empower, fully train, and pay staff a competitive wage. Despite the things that some of these residents have done, they are still kids and indeed still human.  And for the record, many of these youth and the adults next door are being detained not because they are dangerous to society but because of a lack of alternatives.

 

The Environmental Affairs office has all but disappeared. The Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center in south Fayetteville has been closed.  Now, the only option to properly dispose of such items is with another entity in Prairie Grove, which is a lot more difficult for most of Washington County’s residents to get to, which means there are less people doing it. I propose we not only reopen the HHWCC but do more outreach to educate the public in ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  The vast majority of “recyclable” plastic is not recycled or even recyclable, but most people have no idea and feel that simply putting items in the recycle bin ends their responsibility.  We owe it to our grandchildren to be better stewards of our environment.   

 

The sheriff recently reported being 45 detention staff members short.  I support his effort to pay these people better.  I believe that is a worthwhile investment in community members and ultimately saves on turnover and overtime.  But if we expand the current jail, the costs to the county will increase dramatically without making our communities safer.    

07

Environmental Footprint:

The county can and should do better to limit its environmental footprint. Government offices should set the standard and lead by example. Considering I personally took JDC's recycling to the recycling center, I can only assume other departments have ceased their recycling practices as well. I would expand Environmental Affairs' purview to include exploring the feasibility of implementing Johnson County's renewable energy program, investing in greener vehicles as we replace our fleet, and determining how the infrastructure funds can be used to reduce effects of severe weather events like flooding. 

In addition, I’d like to cut the use of single-use plastics in all county offices by 90% over the span of my first term in office.