Several candidates whose names will appear on the May 22 Democratic Party primary showed up Wednesday night at the Jefferson County Election Commission Office on Main Street to draw for ballot positions.
In the race for Sheriff, Maj. Lafayette Woods Jr. asked his father, current Jefferson County Circuit Clerk Lafayette Woods Sr., to draw for him, and the senior Woods pulled out a number one. Former deputy Larry Gragg will be in the second position on the ballot while retired Arkansas State Trooper Roger McLemore will be third. All three are seeking to replace current Sheriff Gerald Robinson.
Quoting former Election Commission Chairman Trey Ashcraft, current Commissioner Stuart “Stu” Soffer joked to Woods that “Just because you drew number one, don’t hire the caterer (for your victory party) just yet.”
Xavion Culclager, who filed to run for sheriff as an independent, was arrested Sunday after he allegedly kicked open the door of a residence in the Dollarway area, pointed a gun at the mother of his child, then took the child without permission.
According to the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office, Culclager fell short of the 200 signatures he needed in order to appear on the November ballot.
Robinson was also on hand as he has filed for Jefferson County judge. He drew the second position on the ballot. Former County Judge Dutch King, who was beaten in a 2016 run-off by current County Judge Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV, will hold the top spot on the ballot. Wilkins chose not to seek a second term.
Also drawing for a spot was Tony Washington, who is running for Jefferson County tax collector. He drew number one, meaning that his opponent, Leslie Elizondo Mitchell, will be in the number two spot. Current Tax Collector Stephanie Stanton is retiring at the end of the year.
In other contested county races, Election Coordinator Rachel Cherry handled the drawings, with current Jefferson County Coroner Chad Kelley’s name appearing first and his opponent Christian Westbrook second. Incumbent District 1 Justice of the Peace Morris Caldwell will be in the second position on the ballot while his challenger, former JP Alfred Carroll Sr., gets the number 1 spot.
Incumbent District 4 Justice of the Peace Mandy Alford will be first on the ballot while her opponent, former Jefferson County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson, will be second. In District 13, former Justice of the Peace Edward Spears, who is trying to get his job back, will be in the first position while current JP Brenda Bishop Gaddy will be second.
Three contested Pine Bluff City Council races will also appear on the Democratic Party ballot in May. In Ward 1, Position 2, Joni Alexander drew the top spot on the ballot while the son of current Alderwoman Thelma Walker drew the number two position for his mother, meaning that Milton Jenkins will be third.
In Ward 3, Position 2, retired Pine Bluff Police Chief Ivan Whitfield will be in the top spot on the ballot, former Alderman Glen Brown Sr. is in the second spot and incumbent Bill Brumett will be third. In Ward 4, Position 2, incumbent Alderman Steven Mays drew the number two position Wednesday, meaning his challenger, Clarence Edward Davis, will be first.
The only statewide primary on the Democratic Party ballot will be the party’s nominee for governor, with Leticia Sanders being placed in the top spot on the ballot while Jared K. Henderson will be second. There will also be a Republican Party primary for governor. In that contest, incumbent Governor Asa Hutchinson will be second on the ballot and his challenger, Jan Morgan, will be first.
Also on the Republican Party primary ballot will be a contest for U.S. Congress in the First District, a race for secretary of state, for state representative District 14 and for justice of the peace District 10. Incumbent Congressman Rick Crawford will be placed in the number one spot on the ballot, and his challenger, Chintan Desai, will be in the second position.
Current District 14 Representative Roger Lynch won the top spot while his challenger, Christina (Chris) Jones, will be second. In the justice of the peace contest, current District 10 JP Dr. Conley F. Byrd Jr. will be number one on the ballot and his challenger, Richard Saucier Sr., will be number two.
There will also be one statewide non-partisan judicial election on the ballot as current Supreme Court Justice Courtney Goodson tries to retain her position. Her name will be first while David Sterling will be second. Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Kenneth Hixson will be third.
In election-related news, Soffer said he had been informed by the chairman of the Finance Committee of the Quorum Court that when the county treasurer receives the $32,000 advance reimbursement from the state, she has been instructed to forward the check to the county clerk for deposit into the election commission account.
“That means that the election in May is fully paid for,” Soffer said. “We have three races with the potential for runoff’s (sheriff, Pine Bluff alderman Ward 1, Pine Bluff alderman Ward 3) and if we have a county-wide runoff, it will probably cost about $30,000.”