A small set of races were decided by voters in Crawford and Sebastian Counties on Tuesday (May 20), with Sebastian County Republican voters deciding on whether to retain their current treasurer/collector and assessor while Crawford County voters cast their votes to decide whether to tax themselves in order to build and fund operations at a new county jail.
The race for treasurer/collector saw much of the attention throughout the primary election, with incumbent Judith Miller fending off a primary challenge from Sebastian County Human Resources Director Steve Hotz.
With 100% of the precincts reporting, Miller won re-election with 61.34% of the vote to Hotz's 38.66%.
Speaking from her watch party in Greenwood, Miller expressed gratitude to voters of Sebastian County.
"I would like to say thank you to the voters for their vote and confidence in my leadership and will continue to work hard for the taxpayers and be conservative to their money. Again, thank you to everyone for their support."
Asked how the working relationship would be between Miller and Hotz after both return to the county court house Wednesday, Miller said it would be "business as usual. Nothing's going to change," adding that she would continue her work on behalf of all taxpayers in Sebastian County.
For his part, Hotz said he was surprised by the outcome, saying: "I thought I had support universally across the county, but obviously I didn't have the support I thought I had. But I'll accept it and move forward."
Hotz echoed Miller's statement about business as usual, referring to an interview he will conduct Wednesday with a job applicant to the county.
"I plan to come right back in and go to work as normal," he said. "I have an interview at 9:30 in the morning. I will proceed with that as normal. I will continue to work with all the offices, including the treasurer's office, as in the past. We had a chance, she won, I did not. So I will continue as HR director."
An issue that came up throughout the campaign has been Miller's relationship with County Judge David Hudson, who has refused to sign a contract for Miller's office related to information technology support. Miller said Tuesday that her and Hudson had met in April and while he still refuses to sign the contracts she has requested, progress has been made.
"He told me to pay my bills, but he still won't sign the contract," she said. "That's where it stands today. I'm doing business. I have backup. I have computer support. But I'm just paying them monthly. I am willing…if he will come to the table, I will go to the table with him."
The other countywide race in Sebastian County was for county assessor. In that race, incumbent Republican Assessor Becky Yandell 69.37% to opponent Ken Colley's 30.63%. Yandell thanked supporters and said she won by running on her record.
"We, for the last 10 years, have brought the county up to the state standard and have brought money back to the taxpayer for overpayment of taxes. We're doing everything online. I feel like my record has followed and I'm glad about that. We want to continue to improve and keep going (forward)."
CRAWFORD COUNTY SALES TAX QUESTION
With 100% of precincts counted, the election on a new jail was victorious for Crawford County officials.
The fourth-cent sales tax to fund jail operations was 51.8% for and 48.2% against.
The vote totals were also for the half-cent bond issue, where 51.3% of voters were in favor of the 10-year sales tax while 48.6% were against.
Reached for comment late Tuesday, Crawford County Judge John Hall said he was pleased with the outcome.
"Both of them passed, so I just appreciate the voters coming out and expressing what they wanted done with this situation. They voted for it and we'll move forward with building this facility for them," he said.
CRAWFORD COUNTY RESULTS
Crawford County Jail
Sales tax vote (Half-cent for 10 years)
• For 51.3%
• Against 48.6%
Sales tax vote (Fourth-cent for jail operations)
• For 51.8%
• Against 48.2%
Justice of the Peace (GOP Primary)
• Justice James Lane 37.42%
• Tia Woodruff 62.58%
SEBASTIAN COUNTY RESULTS
Assessor (GOP Primary)
• Assessor Becky Yandell 69.37%
• Ken Colley 30.63%
Treasurer/Collector (GOP Primary)
• Treasurer/Collector Judith Miller 61.34%
• Steve Hotz 38.66%