New court takes shape with new county judge

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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