Early voting opens Tuesday in the primary-election runoff for District 10 of the Pulaski County Quorum Court, an area that's been plagued by pervasive flooding, according to residents.
Barry Jefferson and incumbent Robert Green, both Democrats, will face off in the runoff election June 19. Jefferson and Green advanced to the runoff after earning more votes than opponent Karega "Red" Wilson in the May primary.
Jefferson received 446 votes, about 35 percent of the total votes cast. Green, who was first elected to the Quorum Court in 1997, earned 511 votes, about 40 percent of votes cast.
The Quorum Court -- composed of 15 justices of the peace, who are elected for two-year terms -- is the body that controls the county's $145 million budget.
Each member is paid a stipend for attending meetings. That amount is capped at $14,131 annually, though most members earned $12,600 last year for attending the 24 scheduled meetings.
District 10 encompasses downtown North Little Rock and extends east to the county line, bordered by U.S. 67 to the north and U.S. 70 to the south.
Residents of District 10 have attended Quorum Court meetings over the past several months to express dissatisfaction with pervasive flooding around their homes.
Ethelene Johnson, a 70-year-old resident of the Dick Jeter community, said in an interview that the flooding has gotten progressively worse. She thinks it's partly because runoff ditches remain clogged with branches and debris; the county has said it's unable to clean those ditches without an easement, Johnson said.
At the most recent meeting, a man who used to live in the Rixey community, also in District 10, said he'd been forced to relocate because his home was a "total loss" as a result of flooding.
The meeting was adjourned without a discussion of the issue, though County Judge Barry Hyde said his office "is always able and ready and available for questions and answers."
Much of the area in question, like the Dick Jeter community, lies in a flood plain.
Both candidates said in interviews with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that they're concerned about floodwaters encroaching on homes in District 10.
Jefferson, 42, is the director of environmental service at the Arkansas Heart Hospital. He's lived in District 10 for about eight years and said he wants to invest county money in the area for certain infrastructure changes.
Jefferson also used to operate a consulting firm, Hall & Jefferson Enterprises, though he stopped doing business in 2015, according to secretary of state business records.
In a recent interview, Jefferson said the issues people care about are sewage and drainage problems in the district, safety concerns and "having someone they can call and depend on." Jefferson added that he's "very excited" about the runoff election.
"I'm very enthused about the response I'm getting," he said.
The incumbent, Green, is a 57-year-old associate minister at Unity Missionary Baptist Church.
Green said in a previous interview that if re-elected, he will continue to focus on transportation, education and law enforcement.
He has sponsored ordinances that fund projects of the Pulaski County sheriff's office, as well as the river light system on the Junction Bridge, the Main Street Bridge and the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge.
At a Quorum Court meeting earlier this year, Green said he was upset with a decision to help fund a new scoreboard for Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.
"We can give $100,000 for a scoreboard for Verizon Arena, but we can't give $100,000 to Dick Jeter," he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Early voting opens at 8 a.m. Tuesday at the Pulaski County Regional Building, 501 W. Markham St. in Little Rock. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays through June 18.
Off-site early voting is at the Jack Evans Senior Citizens Center, 2301 Thornhill Drive in Sherwood. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
Since no Republicans registered for the District 10 spot, the winner in the runoff will hold the seat for a two-year term.
Metro on 06/11/2018
Print Headline: JP, challenger vie for runoff victory