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The election results of March 3 are now in the books.

Women candidates for judicial positions in Northwest Arkansas, and the only statewide judicial race, were the winners.

In every race set for a long wait until the November runoffs -- again -- women candidates are present.

Locally, one veteran jurist, Judge Stacey Zimmerman, of Fayetteville, the incumbent juvenile judge in Washington/Madison Counties, cruised to an easy victory over challenger Robert L. Depper. Zimmerman carried both counties coasting to a 77 percent victory, amassing 29,469 votes out of the 38,402 which were cast.

Serving since 1998, Zimmerman has turned back two challengers in her time on the court -- both by wide margins.

In the five-person field for a new Circuit Judgeship in the Washington/Madison County 4th Judicial District, Dianne Warren and Conrad Odom, emerged from the five-person field to head to a November runoff.

Warren led the field with 28 percent of the vote or 10,741 votes. Odom was second with 8,944 for 24 percent; followed by Tim Snively, 7,609 or 20 percent; Brian Hogue was fourth with 5,373 votes or 14 percent of the vote; followed by Mieka Hatcher with 5,108 votes for 14 percent of those casting ballots.

Warren, 55, is a former attorney ad litem, a lawyer appointed by a court to sit as an advocate for the best interest of a minor. This was her first campaign for elected office.

Odom, 54, a lawyer has been with the Odom firm in Fayetteville, founded by his father. He is a former appointed member of the Fayetteville City Council and the Fayetteville School Board. He lost an elective bid for State Senator in the 1990s against then State Senator Sue Madison.

In the Fayetteville District Court contest, Terra Stephenson, 45, a senior deputy prosecutor in the 4th Judicial District, led the ticket and narrowly missed winning the three-way contest outright.

Stephenson collected 17,566 votes for 49 percent of those ballots cast.

She will face Mark Scalise, 59, a lawyer in both Fayetteville and Philadelphia, Pa., who has worked mostly for corporate clients. Scalise garnered 13,692 votes for 39 percent. Running third in the race was David Dero Phillips, of Springdale, a city prosecutor. Phillips polled 4,026 votes or 11 percent.

In Benton County, Christine Horwart of Rogers won the race for the new Circuit Judgeship over Tony Noblin of Bentonville.

Horwart collected 21,512 votes or 55 percent of those ballots cast.

Noblin had 17,596 votes or 45 percent for second place.

Horwart will take her new office in January 2021.

In the Benton County District Court race for Position 1, District 3, A. J. Anglin of Siloam Springs defeated David Bailey of Gravette.

Anglin received 20,735 votes or 55 percent of the ballots cast to Bailey's 16,863 votes for 44 percent.

In the statewide race for Arkansas State Supreme Court, Barbara Womack Webb of Benton defeated Judge Morgan "Chip" Welch of Little Rock.

Washington County voters had the race tight, with Webb garnering 17,954 votes or 50.78 percent to Welch's 17,402 votes for 49.27 percent of all ballots cast.

In Benton County, Webb's lead was more substantial as she collected 23,098 votes or 59.7 percent of all votes. Welch earned 15,991 votes for 40.29 percent of Benton County ballots cast.

The Washington County one-quarter-cent sales tax for public service radio upgrades passed by 64 percent in favor of the question put to the voters. There were 24,466 votes for the measure and 13,785 against this new tax.

The sales tax starts soon and will be collected for 12 months and then sunset.

That tax is estimated to bring in over $10 million dollars to be spent on radios and radio equipment belonging to Washington County.

• • •

Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 03/11/2020

Print Headline: Women lead in local judge races; runoffs set for November

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