BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- One of the questions facing Arkansas voters on the November ballot is Issue 1, which includes several provisions having to do with the terms, election and eligibility of elected officials.
If it is approved by voters, the proposed amendment would do the following:
Allow four-year terms for elected county officials
This section of the amendment would change the constitution to allow the following list of elected county officials to serve four years in office, instead of the current two-year terms: county judge, sheriff, circuit clerk, county clerk, assessor, coroner, treasurer, county surveyor and tax collector.
The amendment would not apply to justice of the peace who represent different districts of a county in Quorum Courts.
Prevent certain elected county officials from also being appointed or elected to a civil office
This section of the amendment would add to the constitution a provision that states a person elected or appointed to the following county offices could not be appointed or elected to any other civil office in Arkansas at the same time: county judge, justice of the peace, sheriff, circuit clerk, county clerk, assessor, coroner, treasurer, county surveyor and tax collector.
Allow unopposed candidates to be elected without their name appearing on the ballot
The amendment would allow legislators to pass laws that state unopposed candidates can be elected without the necessity of the candidate’s name appearing on the ballot or, in some cases, even holding an election if there are no other offices or issues on the ballot.
Define what "infamous crime" means in regards to who is not allowed to hold an elected position
The amendment would define “infamous crime” in the section of the Arkansas Constitution that states who cannot serve in the state legislature or hold any other public office in the state. Under the proposed amendment, an “infamous crime” would include:
- A felony offense
- Abuse of office as defined under Arkansas law
- Tampering as defined under Arkansas law
- A misdemeanor offense involving an act of deceit, fraud or false statement, including misdemeanor offenses related to the election process
According to the measure's sponsor, even with the definition under current state law, the phrase “infamous crime” is open to interpretation. Clarifying the meaning in the constitution would provide prosecutors and the court with more guidance.
For more information on Issue 1, click here.
During Thursday night's (Oct. 27) Benton County Quorum Court meeting, County Judge Bob Clinard weighed in on some of the provisions listed in Issue 1.
Clinard said he against four-year terms without clearly stated job requirements.
Clinard was county judge during the final and controversial term of former Sheriff Kelley Cradduck, who resigned after he was accused of tampering with public records.
"If you've got somebody who's not doing the job, or not doing it properly, you certainly don't want them four years versus two years," Clinard said. "There's no method in Arkansas to fire someone as a county elected official."
Supporters of Issue 1 argue longer terms would allow officials to see their ideas and policies through and would keep them from beginning another campaign almost immediately after being elected.
"I think it would be easier to do a four-year term if you're a qualified individual," Clinard said. "I think until we get there, we need to have two year terms."