In an email interim Tax Assessor Damon Edwards sent to the Justices of the Peace, he asked to be considered for the appointment if and only if he was laid off from his position at Windstream Communications. The Log Cabin Democrat obtained the email chain through the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.
Edwards emailed the Faulkner County Quorum Court members on July 22 asking to be considered for the position, which pays nearly $72,000 per year.
“First I would like to explain why I am applying for this position,” Edwards wrote before adding that his boss had “confidentially” told him his “team was being reorganized and that supervisory positions were possibly in jeopardy.”
Edwards was a supervisor at Windstream at the time. He went on to say that his boss would “know for sure no later than this coming Friday 7/28/17.”
“It was only after getting this news that I started to consider this position,” Edwards wrote in the email, acknowledging that outgoing Assessor Angela Hill had recommended Whitney Doolittle to succeed her. “Let me be clear, if it did not appear that I am going to be unemployed by the end of next week I would not be asking that you consider me for this position, and if I am told that my position will not be eliminated on 7/28/17 I will withdraw my name from consideration.”
Edwards wrote that he contacted Doolittle to let her know he was seeking the appointment “to make sure she understood that this was not politically motivated on my part, and if my position was not eliminated I would be withdrawing from consideration.”
Edwards was laid off from his job at Windstream on July 27, at which time he sent the JPs a second email asking to be considered for the position.
“I just wanted to let all of you know that just after 8:AM this morning, my position at Windstream was eliminated, and I am defiantly [sic] seeking the appointment to serve out the term of the assessor. Please let me know if you have any questions as you consider my qualifications,” he wrote.
During a special called meeting July 31, Edwards was appointed to the position in a 7-5 vote.
Doolittle, who serves as Deputy County Attorney/Human Resources Director and has worked since 2012 on the court cases the assessor’s office is currently facing, received five votes.
Jeff Stephens, who served as Faulkner County Tax Assessor for 20 years before retiring, was also nominated for the appointment but received no votes.
JPs Justin Knight, Randy Higgins, Steve Goode, Jim Houston, Eric King, Spencer Hawks and Jerry Boyer voted to appoint Edwards to the position. JPs Bill Dodgen, Barry Williams, Dan Thessing, Johnny Brady and John Pickett voted to appoint Doolittle. JP LeRoy Hendricks was absent.