State Rep. Henry "Hank" Wilkins IV, a longtime state senator, announced Friday that he will run for county judge in Jefferson County.

State Rep. Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV, a longtime state senator, announced Friday that he will run for county judge in Jefferson County.

Wilkins is serving his final term in the Arkansas House of Representatives. He is the longest serving legislator in the Arkansas General Assembly.

“I am responding to the many constituents, business, civic and community leaders who are encouraging me to run for county judge,” Wilkins said in a press release. “I am running first and foremost for the purpose of serving the people of Jefferson County. I am uniquely qualified to serve as a connector and catalyst for the improvement and betterment of this community.

“I love this community and have a solid and unwavering commitment. I am humbled by the depth and expansive nature of support I have enjoyed for near two decades as a community leader and legislator.

“Because of the economics of Southeast Arkansas, it is important that we speed forward the process of recovery, enhancement and growth. I will work hard and smart to ensure a positive outcome. We need wait no longer to turn things around and start on a path that will make all the people of Jefferson County proud to call this home!

“We need jobs, economic development and improved quality of life and we need them now! Over the last month, my Exploratory Committee and I have consulted with people from all walks of life. I’m honored by the response. So after much prayer, encouragement and consideration, I have decided to run for county judge of Jefferson County,” Wilkins said.

During Wilkins’ final term in the Arkansas General Assembly, he said he has been influential, working across party lines with Democrats and Republicans. In a Republican-led General Assembly, Wilkins, a Democrat, serves as vice chairman of Joint Budget Committee and chairman of the Special Language Committee.

“Serving in a leadership capacity in this recent session has allowed me to put a capstone of accomplishment on my service to the people of Jefferson County and the state of Arkansas,” Wilkins said in a press release. “I am the most senior and tenured legislator in the General Assembly since term limits were enacted in the early 1990s. I believe that my vast and varied experience will benefit Jefferson County. I am thankful for the outpouring of support and I will work diligently to deserve your trust as county judge.”

Wilkins said he is the only legislator in the history of Arkansas to have served two biennium as chairman of both Legislative Audit and Legislative Council.

“The experience of chairing budget hearings and the opportunity several times of chairing several other committees has made me the most experienced legislator in Arkansas,” Wilkins said in the press release. “I am honored to have been given these opportunities to serve our community and the state of Arkansas in the House and Senate.”

Wilkins is a Pine Bluff native. He is pastor of Saint James United Methodist Church. Wilkins and his wife, Phyllis, have been married for 35 years. They have two sons.