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Miller County sorts out race for justice of the peace seat

by JAMES BRIGHT TEXARKANA GAZETTE | June 28, 2022 at 7:00 a.m.
'I Voted' stickers are shown in this file photo. (NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo)

TEXARKANA — Voters may get their choice for Miller County Justice of Peace Place 7 after all.

Jeffery Page won the June 21 runoff race against Roy Pitt, although he filed a withdrawal of candidacy on March 31. This advances Page to the Nov. 8 general election, but his race is unopposed, which means the governor will need to appoint someone to the role.

Page said he is open to the appointment.

“At this point I would. I’ve got my head on straight and if the governor did ask me I would probably do it now. I know I could now,” he said.

Tending to a sick relative and an impending divorce forced Page’s hand in terms of withdrawing from the race, he said. The relative has since died, and he said the divorce would no longer be an issue by the time he took office.

He said withdrawing from the race was not a stunt and that he did not intend to place the county in an odd position.

“It’s a humbling situation when you don’t even try to win something and still win it,” he said. “I told everyone I withdrew from the race. I even went on James Syler’s [Facebook] page and told everyone I am voting for him, and I actually did vote for him in the primary. I voted for my opponent.” Syler finished third in Place 7 primary voting.

Miller County Voter Registration Deputy Tonya Bohn said the ballots had already been finalized when Page filed his notice of withdrawal.

“When he filed a withdrawal, the ballots had already been printed with election system and software. And so it was delinquent, it was past his deadline date in order to do that. So, therefore, the process had to be carried out,” she said.

Bohn elaborated that Page’s name will still be on the November ballot in accordance with procedure. After the election, his win will be nullified and the position will be sent to the governor for an appointment. The governor will have until midnight Jan. 31 to fill the vacancy.

Bohn said the situation with the race is a first for Miller County.

Page has run for the Place 7 GOP nomination the past two cycles but lost to incumbent Jimmy Hickey Sr., Bohn said. Hickey announced he would not seek reelection this term.

“He [Page] sat side by side with Justice Hickey in the back of his truck and you know, Jeffrey even told us he knew everybody and their dog,” Bohn said.

This sort of recognition was most likely a determining factor in Page’s win, according to Bohn.

Page echoed the sentiment.

“I appreciate I have such a good name,” he said. “I try to treat everybody honest and fair, and apparently my name is out there for that. If they never saw my name until it showed up on the ballot, I don’t think they’d vote for me.”

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