Jefferson County Judge Dutch King has announced his intention to seek another term in the May 2014 Democratic primary.
King took office in January 2013 after winning the judge’s seat in the November 2012 general election. He is a former Pine Bluff mayor and alderman.
“I want to first thank the people of Jefferson County for allowing me the privilege and honor of serving as County Judge,” King said in his announcement. “There is still work to be done, but I believe in the people and spirit of Jefferson County and because of that, I still have that burning passion to bring prosperity and success back to Jefferson County.”
In the announcement, King said he focused on cleaning up the county, improving roads across Jefferson County and creating an open, more transparent local government so that citizens can see where and why tax dollars are being spent.
He said he has demonstrated a commitment to work with mayors throughout the county, including partnering with the mayors of Pine Bluff and White Hall in persuading Waste Management to implement a local call center to better serve the needs of residents, and has been involved in community improvements and cleanup projects with other mayors.
“Our recycling program’s revenue has doubled in less than a year,” King said in the announcement. “This has allowed us to provide more and better quality service to the members of our community. We haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg on all we will be able to do.”
He said that through partnerships with the Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District, Southeast Waste District and the city of Pine Bluff, a new recycling center and E-Waste collection facility is scheduled to begin operations early this year, and King said the new center will “ultimately help our county by keeping our ditches clean and litter off our streets.
“A better infrastructure and cleaner, safer neighborhoods are the first steps to attracting new industries to the county,” King said.
The increased recycling activity also provided a new revenue stream for the sheriff’s office as members of the sheriff’s Clean Team sort material and the department is paid for their work. In addition, under King’s administration, the tire recycling facility on Gravel Pit Road was brought back into compliance with regulations of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.
Recent improvements to county roads are the result of added equipment to the county road department, including three used tractor-trailers, a used paving machine and a second-hand ditching machine.
“We were able to start to enhance our roads and begin to build the equipment needed to ensure the county road department is able to properly maintain our streets and county roads,” King said. “My first order of business on entering the office was to improve the effectiveness of county operations. The benefits were promptly demonstrated as in 2013, all departments directly under my supervision used a total of 5,008.4 gallons of fuel less than was used in the previous year.”
According to the announcement, a county website that will help residents obtain information pertaining to county business and the use of taxpayer money is under construction.
“Along with balancing the budget and bringing Jefferson County into compliance, we have a lot of successful efforts under way, “King said. “We are growing our county resources, creating jobs and giving the government back to the people. Now is not the time to change course.
“I graciously ask the citizens to let me continue to build a better Jefferson County for everyone,” King said.
State Rep. Henry “Hank” Wilkins III and Pine Bluff Assistant Chief of Police Ivan Whitfield have both announced their intention to seek the office in the Democratic primary. King defeated Whitfield and former Justice of the Peace Alfred Carroll in the 2012 primary. No Republicans have announced for the position.