Voters Give Officials More Time

by Kirsten May
Courtesy of A-State Department of Media

Arkansas voters passed an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution that will lengthen term limits for elected county officials from two years to four years. As Kirsten May explains, people in those positions think this will help them be more effective.

JONESBORO — Now even though the new term limits won’t go into effect until 2019, Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd said he is excited about what that means for the future of county officials.

“It’s going to be a great benefit to the operations of any department because you can set some long-term goals. Where in the past, just having a two-year office, it made it seem like you were always campaigning,” he said.

Boyd said he hopes the longer terms will let officials dig deeper to accomplish bigger goals, especially in a county that has a 2 percent annual growth rate. He said there are some things you just can’t get done in two years.

“Even though I know economically we can’t obtain maybe as many deputies as we want in the next 12 months, but I can look at the long-range plan and say in five years here is where we need to be,” Boyd said.

He said another benefit is being able to cut costs.

“Elections are expensive. I wish they weren’t, but in this day and time it takes a lot to run a successful campaign. Having to do that every two years, you get tired of the process and your supporters get tired of the process,” Boyd said.

There is also a better sense of job security for those in the department.

“It puts them in a better workplace knowing that they have at least four years to look at instead of two,” Boyd said.

Sheriff Boyd said there has been some concern about having an official in office that long. But he said as long as you research your candidates and know who you’re voting for before the election, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Issue 1 also states certain county officials cannot be appointed or elected to another civil office, and it allows unopposed candidates to be elected without their name appearing on the ballot.