In the past, Garland County Arkansas has not had a truly effective Republican Party. The county offices and the vast majority of the JP districts as well have been traditionally tightly held by Democrats. To suggest that someone run for office here as a Republican would be met with the comment that “You can’t win a county-wide office in Garland County as a Republican.” That myth was busted yesterday!!!
As a result of hard recruiting effort for good qualified candidates on the part of the local Republican party and the Garland County Tea Party, a slate of eighteen candidates for almost every Garland County office emerged. This was the first time ever in the history of this county that many of those offices had even received serious opposition. Of those candidates ALL but one won. The offices of county judge, county clerk, circuit clerk, tax assessor, treasurer, all fell to Republican challenges. The Quorum Court changed from nine Democrats and four Republicans to nine Republicans and four Democrats. Only one Democrat that ran against the new Republican challengers won a seat as a JP! Most of these positions have been held for forty years or more by Democrats. Some for 130 years and had never been held by a Republican!
The sitting county judge, running for the state legislature, lost to the Republican Kieth Crass that tragically died of a heart attack last week. Keith had worked hard for the last 18 months to achieve a lifelong dream to go to the state legislature. I can think of no tribute to him that would be better than the one given by the voters of Garland County yesterday in his win in that election. Our heart felt condolences as well as our prayers go out to Keith’s family. According to state law, there will now be a new election to fill that office and the likelihood is that it too will be filled by a well-qualified Republican.
In this elections we saw lots of “dirty tricks” tried by a bunch of entrenched incumbents in an attempt to hang on to power. I had more than a dozen yard signs stolen from my property, a pattern that was repeated against Republican campaign signs all over the county. Some of them were stolen several times. Other signs were driven over by 4wd vehicles, or were covered by graffiti. Some were even shredded with the pieces left on the lawns. The local paper printed pro-incumbent articles, some on the front page, while refusing to publish opposing views in the closing days of the campaign except in very unusual occasions, but then what is unusual about that in Hot Springs, Arkansas?
Now the job for us the voters of Garland County will be to hold those new officers to their pledges to convert the county government from the tired old good-old-boy, tax-and-spend policies of the past to a sound and responsible business model for the future. They have a hard job to accomplish and if they are not responsive to those who elected them, in two years we will repeat the process with another slate of well-qualified candidates to replace them with others who will.
The myth is busted and the voters along with our kids and grandkids are the big winners in Garland County Arkansas on November 3rd, 2010!