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New court takes shape with new county judge

Posted: February 2, 2013 - 8:44pm

By RICHARD DUKE

LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER

The Faulkner County Quorum Court went through a few changes during the General Election in November, but few knew more changes would come months after the election had finished.

Saying this was the hardest decision he had ever made, Faulkner County Judge Preston Scroggin said his farewell Thursday night in front of a packed courtroom as he resigned and accepted the appointment as the Arkansas Director of Livestock and Poultry Commission.

Scroggin handed the reins over to county attorney Allen Dodson after the court voted him to fill Scroggin’s term. The court, which included new Justice of the Peace Frank Shaw, voted 12-1 to approve the resolution for Dodson after retiring into executive session.

It was in this session where the JPs held a much closer vote between two candidates: Dodson and Mark Vaught, a former Conway alderman who had recently lost in a race for County Clerk. Sources have confirmed the vote in executive session was 7-6 in favor of Dodson. The session took about 30 minutes to complete.

Only one JP, Johnny Brady, voiced dissent during the public vote, but several JPs noted their original vote to the public later.

Dodson will take over a court for the next two years that has been divided about several issues, but has voted nearly unanimously on every major issue. He will also take over an office that has seen a previous county attorney resign and surrender pay after taking eight weeks off of work and a county administrator who is accused of using county funds for personal use on his home.

“I have a plan and a vision for the next two years, and I will reveal it in the coming days,” Dodson said shortly after the special meeting came to a close. He was congratulated shortly after by Vaught and by members of the court.

Dodson will not be able to run for re-election, so speculation has opened up as to who could fill the spot down the road. With a close QC vote, some have pointed to Vaught or possibly to Marvin Lessmann, who unsuccessfully ran against incumbent Scroggin in November. On the Democratic side, Shaw, who is the former Chairman of the Faulkner County Election Commission, has been considered as a candidate.

Scroggin addressed members of the audience in his final moments as judge.

“You all have a great quorum court,” he said. “They labored in there. I think [with my new position] that I can do some good for rural Arkansas. I will not forget you. I will be back, but I will not be in politics anymore. This is my riding off into the sunset. But I still have a bug to be involved. It’s been the honor of my life to be your county judge.”

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ViresInMedius
67
Points
ViresInMedius 02/02/13 - 11:27 pm
3
0
Hope for Bipartisanship and Good Government

Let us all hope that our new County Judge will work in a bipartisan manner. The first step and first indicator would be if he fixes the critically important Finance Committee (currently made up of 5 Democrats) by appointing at least 2 reliable Republicans (that likely opposed his election). Now is the time to set the tone for his tenure as County Judge.

The second indicator will be how he handles the criminal indictment of his current county administrator. Understanding you are innocent until proven guilty, lets hope he makes a careful analysis of the entire situation and does what is best for the taxpayers and at a minimum, reduce opportunities for continued corrupt practices or perhaps being falsely accused.

For the benefit of the people and his office, let us hope that he allows some sunshine on county practices by working with the prosecutor to clear out any baseless rumors of wrongdoing and helps quickly resolve issues if there has been any corruption or lack of managerial oversight.

357
1819
Points
357 02/03/13 - 09:04 am
3
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I could not agree more. The

I could not agree more.

The court has reached out to him with a vote of solidarity, let's see if he's willing to reciprocate by making the Finance Committee reflect more of the makeup of the court.

sandydee
262
Points
sandydee 02/03/13 - 11:38 am
1
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Bipartisan or status quo?

Does the new judge reach out and actually work with the republicans or keep doing things the same old way with the same old people?
How does the new judge, who was defending Jeff Johnson just a week ago, now go and be his boss? Who does the new judge hire as the new county attorney? and what is his "vision for the county"? Just a week ago he was just the county attorney and now he has a "vision"? I hope his vision at least includes transparency and bipartisanship. He should remember he owes his job to just one vote and a republican vote at that. He was not elected by the county. His job is to be a caretaker until the next elected judge. I wish him the best because I wish the best for the county.

sandydee
262
Points
sandydee 02/03/13 - 11:42 am
1
0
oops double post

oops double post

bustercanfly
199
Points
bustercanfly 02/03/13 - 11:43 am
2
0
Actually

I believe Jeff Johnston is represented by Joe Don Winningham, not Dodson. Winningham was the interim county attorney for a few weeks, but I don't think he was able to represent Johnston until he was a full-time private attorney again.

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