Candidates begin to emerge for Sebastian County seats

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 1,887 views 

Sebastian County Treasurer/Collector Steve Hotz is running as a Republican for Sebastian County Judge, and Charity Gregory and Lora Rice have announced as Republicans for the Sebastian County Treasurer/Collector job.

The primary election is set for May 24, and the general election is Nov. 8, 2022. Arkansas’ candidate filing period begins at noon on Feb. 22 and ends at noon on March 1.

Hotz confirmed Monday (Oct. 18) with Talk Business & Politics he will seek the county’s top elected post. Sebastian County Judge David Hudson is not seeking re-election for the job he has held since 1998. Hotz is the Treasurer/Collector after being appointed by Hudson and confirmed by the Quorum Court in December 2019 following the resignation of Judith Miller. He was not eligible to run for re-election as Treasurer/Collector the office because he was appointed.

Hotz noted in a statement he has 25 years of business experience and 10 years of experience in county government, including director of human resources for the county. He earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas.

He said jail capacity, good roads and the county’s emergency response system will be some of his top priorities.

Steve Hotz, Sebastian County Treasurer/Collector

“The next County Judge will need to tackle issues such as the 1% county sales tax that will expire in July of 2024, as well as issues related to our county jail that is often over capacity. These are two very large financial concerns that will require immediate attention,” Hotz wrote in his note to Talk Business & Politics. “I know the people, I understand money, and I understand the burden taxes place on individuals and businesses. The records show that I am fiscally conservative and I will bring that quality to work everyday at the courthouse.”

Gregory said she has more than 20 years of finance experience including seven years in governmental accounting. She now work as the treasurer for the city of Barling and prior to that position worked for Sebastian County as the purchasing/facilities administrator. The Hartford High School graduate earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration-accounting from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

Charity Gregory

Rice now works as controller for SPF America, a precision metal fabrication and finishing facility, having held that position since 2020. She also worked 13 years as controller at Umarex USA and Walther Arms, 14 years as a public accountant with Landmark (formerly Beall & Company) and as a staff accountant with The Merit Group in Dallas, for seven years. She routinely performs financial functions related to the collection, accuracy, recording, analysis, and presentation of the company’s financial operations, dealing with multiple high-level entities requiring account reconciliations, budgets, and financial decisions, according to her press statement.

Rice’s volunteer work includes serving on the Sebastian County Republican Committee as secretary, and board member of the Fort Smith Little Theatre.

Lora Rice

“Serving as the Treasurer/Collector for the county requires well-rounded experience, a strong work ethic, and a philosophy to work with community members from all walks of life,” Rice said in her announcement. “I’ll use my proven ability to streamline processes, advocating best practices for the most effective and economical use of resources. I care about this county and the people who live here and want to see good things for all our communities. I’m excited for the opportunity to serve.”

The Treasurer/Collector manages disbursements – including those to school districts – and tax collections for the county. The treasurer receives tax revenue, county turnback funds, federal matching funds, state aid to school district, and various revenues from other sources, according to the office website.