Newly elected officials streamed into the courtroom early New Year’s Day, eager for their swearing-in ceremony and looking forward to 2013.
“It’s a big honor,” County Judge Preston Scroggin said. “The politicking is over, and it’s time to be leaders.”
About 75 officials — some elected for the first time — and deputies were sworn in at the courthouse at about 9 a.m. Tuesday. Men in suits shook hands and patted backs. Women in high heels smiled as they signed their names to an oath that will be filed at the courthouse this week.
About 100 people, some family members, came to see local leaders raise their right hands, pledge to fulfill their duties and officially start their new terms. Officials said the ceremony is important to them and the community. The elected positions come with a lot of responsibility, Scroggin said.
“You feel really excited because you’ve been elected again,” said Justice of the Peace Barbara Mathes. “Every swearing in is special.”
For some officials, Tuesday morning marked the beginning of change in 2013.
Sheriff Andy Shock, who takes over as sheriff for the first time, said he cut some supervisory positions and then added positions to increase the number of patrols in the county. Among those additions are four patrol deputies, two of whom will be school resource officers, Shock said. He also added a criminal investigator, a bailiff and a dispatcher, he said.
“Those take effect today,” Shock said. “Our focus is to get as many deputy sheriffs on the streets and back roads of Faulkner County as we can.”
More deputies mean more criminals caught, more investigations and faster responses from the Sheriff’s Office, he said. Plus, those changes do not change the budget, Shock said.
“We’re ready to get going,” Shock said.
Other officials, including Scroggin, aren’t planning much change, but Scroggin said he believes the Quorum Court will get off to a better start this year. People seem to be getting along, he said.
A little after 10 a.m. Tuesday and just a few streets away, a handful of newly elected city aldermen and Mayor Tab Townsell were sworn in one by one at the district court. Everyone smiled and posed for pictures snapped by family members and friends.
At the city level, the swearing-in ceremony is important to longtime veterans, like alderman Andy Hawkins who took his first oath 18 years ago, but it is more exciting to new leaders, Hawkins said.
Two aldermen, including Wesley Pruitt, took the oath for the first time New Year’s Day.
“It was good,” Pruitt said. “It makes it real. It makes it official. It’s like now it’s time to get to work.”