Our View: Expanded terms for county officials would help ideas come to fruition

We have long advocated expanding county officials’ terms from two years to four years and finally, finally we hear Attorney General Leslie Rutledge approved the working of a proposed ballot item that will do just that. Now folks, it is up to you to put your stamp approval on giving our county sheriff, which happens to be the very popular Mike Allen, along with County Judge Woody Wheeless the time necessary to do their jobs without having to worry about trying to get re-elected every 24 months. The proposed ballot will apply to all the state’s sheriffs, county judges, justices of the peace, collectors, treasurers, assessors, circuit clerks, county clerks, coroners, surveyors and constables. Listen, we all know that getting the confidence of the voters to run a important local governmental position requires on-the-job training, getting acquainted with the responsibilities, learning the responsibilities of those employees who take care of the day-to-day duties and adjusting to the demands of those constituents who have placed their confidence in each and every one of these elected public officials. Even in the private sector, top level managers require time to acquaint themselves with the responsibilities and to fully implement new ideas, which is why we have said for a long time that these two year terms do a total injustice to those who serve in these positions simply because they have not had enough time to demonstrate their full abilities. Let us also point out, this isn’t the first attempt to extend the terms of these constitutional office holders. In this latest endeavor, David Dinwiddle of now must collect the 84,859 signatures of registered voters to place the proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2016 general election ballot. Dinwiddle, who has run as a libertarian for several state offices in past elections, received certification for a similar measure in 2013 but sadly did not collect the signatures needed to place it on the November 2014 ballot. Now that AG Rutledge has given her stamp of approval on this proposed initiation we would certainly expect those county public office holders affected by this needed term extension to jump on board and help gather the necessary signatures to insure that voters have an opportunity to have their say in the matter. So then, the question among some people may be why 84,859 signatures? Well, The Arkansas Constitution requires canvassers for proposed amendments to obtain valid signatures equal to 10 percent of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. These signatures must be gathered and turned into to the secretary of state’s office by jot later than July 8 in order to reach the November 2016 ballot. We would certainly encourage every registered voter to sign the petition when it circulates throughout Crittenden County and, again hope Sheriff Allen, Judge Wheeless and our other county office holders take an active role in gathering voter support. After all, this will greatly benefit them and those they serve.

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