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OPINION: Absent at the forums — candidates don’t show

by By Maylon Rice | May 11, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

What are some of these candidates for public office thinking?

I had to scratch my head and ponder this question at some of the blatant absenteeism of those seeking public office in our region.

All the GOP candidates for Washington County Judge -- every one of them -- skipped the Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition and the League of Women Voters at the Fayetteville Public Library on Monday night, May 2.

Why?

Does the Washington County GOP not desire their nominees to be present at a public forum where very non-partisan questions on issues related to the office they seek are being asked?

And the same goes for other political offices all over the legislative and county maps of late.

Why?

Why?

Why do these people who file for public office, seek an elective position to make laws, policy and run the business of the state, county and even the region, then not want to be on a panel for an hour to be asked what they would or would not do, on topics of interest to the voters?

It just baffles me.

One might ask if the Washington County Republican Party instructed these candidates not to attend, when all four of the GOP candidates for County Judge failed to attend a recent League of Women Voters policy forum.

I mean all four of these GOP candidates for Washington County Judge -- JP Patrick Deakins, Sharon Lloyd, Mark Scalise and Tom Terminella were no shows.

Deakins is the holder of a public office -- that of Justice of the Peace -- and he did not show. He draws a paycheck every month of your tax money as a JP but didn't come out that evening to talk to you the taxpayers.

And Lloyd, who is a grants administrator for the current county Judge, also draws her paychecks from Washington County and its taxpayers. She did not show.

Mark Scalise -- an attorney, who has run before for a judgeship and lost -- did not show.

And frequent municipal candidate for Fayetteville positions – Tom Terminella, a contractor and businessman, also did not show.

Both Terminella and Scalise have run for office, unsuccessfully before, and both know the drill of what is expected of them to meet the voters. Yet both stayed home.

The only reason any of these four (or the two Democrats also seeking the county judge's office) is for the salary. The county judge position pays $141,470 a year.

Both Democrats, Charles Ward and Josh Moody talked at the forum.

Now the GOP might say that the Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition portion of the meeting scared them away.

Do these candidates think once they win the position that groups like the Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition and the League of Women Voters are just going away?

The same can be said about the State Senate District 29 race -- which has a small portion of Washington County on its western edge.

The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, as always, has sought to have a public policy forum for any and all political races in Washington County and in the realm of the Chamber's sphere of influence.

But only one of the two candidates for Senate District. 29 - Jim Petty, an alderman for the city of Van Buren, showed.

Warren Robertson, the ultra-conservative, insurance salesman who has been mentioned here before for his tax lien problems, skipped the forum.

And by the looks of a story in the regional daily newspaper, he also skipped out on an interview for the newspaper by not being at the forum.

The salary of a state Senator in Arkansas is now $42,428 a year, plus $150 per diem for every day of a legislative session, plus mileage back and forth to home doing legislative business.

Others have also skipped the Fayetteville Chamber's forums and I cannot for the life of me understand it.

The primary election is in two weeks on May 24 and early voting by the time you read this column will have already begun on May 9.

-- 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.

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