Former Pine Bluff Mayor Dutch King's pledge is that "jobs, jobs, jobs" will be his top priority if he is elected Jefferson County judge Tuesday.

Former Pine Bluff Mayor Dutch King’s pledge is that “jobs, jobs, jobs” will be his top priority if he is elected Jefferson County judge Tuesday.

We understand his urgency in bringing jobs to Jefferson County.

The unemployment rate in Northwest Arkansas fell to 4.9 percent in September. The region’s September joblessness rate was 6 percent a year ago. Arkansas’ jobless rate was 7.1 percent in September, while the national unemployment rate was 7.8 percent.

After a year or more with unemployment above 11 percent in Jefferson County for too many months, we would have called a marching band for a parade to celebrate a jobless rate in the 5 percent range.

King is right when he notes that the passage of a sales tax increase in February 2011 to promote economic development and workforce training will help the county compete for good jobs with other parts of Arkansas.

We can now go to the governor and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission with funds to match state development grants, asking for a hand up, not a handout. We can now help ourselves.

King served as mayor of Pine Bluff for four years and was an alderman for six years. He understands how local government functions and what we can accomplish by working together.

As a successful businessman, King understands how our economy works. That experience will serve the residents of the county well when it comes time to draft a multi-million budget and work with a legislative body (our 13-member quorum court).

“We’re going to have to be frugal and be careful how we spend money,” King said. “We’re not talking about play money; we’re talking about real money.”

Justice of the Peace Ted Harden, a Republican, and King, a Democrat, are seeking to succeed County Judge Mike Holcomb, who is seeking a seat in the state House of Representatives. Harden is unopposed for another two-year term on the quorum court, and can continue as a JP if King is elected county judge.

We believe King’s experience makes him the preferred candidate for the county judge, and we endorse him for this very important job.

Robinson’s tenure difference in race

Jefferson County Sheriff Gerald Robinson believes his background and experience outweigh that of his opponent in the sheriff’s bid for a fourth term.

We are inclined to agree with Robinson, a man who has impressed us over the past six years with innovative programs.

In Tuesday’s general election, Robinson is being challenged by retired Arkansas State Police investigator Roger McLemore, who is running as an independent.

During his career with the sheriff’s department since 1986, Robinson has worked in and commanded every division, including the jail, civil, patrol, and criminal investigation. Robinson holds a degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

He has kept campaign pledges, including being tough on dead beat dads, supporting the Operation Mother’s Day Program, targeting drug dealers, supporting the Adopted Grandparents Program, a mentoring program where deputies work with kids in the schools, and increasing patrols in both the city and the unincorporated areas of the county, and using jail inmates to pick up trash on roadways.

Several candidates for sheriff in other areas of Arkansas have indicated they plan to come to Pine Bluff and visit the Jefferson County W.C. “Dub” Brassell Adult Detention Center. It is not often a county jail is run at a profit, and the officers hope to learn something from Robinson.

Keeping campaign promises is something we don’t see often, but one we would like to see happen more often. Again, we believe voters should take advantage of the experience that Gerald Robinson brings to this position of county sheriff, and we endorse him in his effort to be re-elected to another term.


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