Arkansas State Rep.-elect Mike Holcomb gets an embrace from his wife, Dee Holcomb, during the celebration of his new post. Holcomb was honored Tuesday on the years of service he’s given in Jefferson County as county judge, deputy sheriff, quorum court member and constable. The event was held at the Jefferson County Courthouse. (Special to The Commercial/William Harvey)
After three terms as Jefferson County judge, a term on the quorum court and time as a sheriff’s deputy, Mike Holcomb decided he was ready for a change.
He will assume office as a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, representing District 10, in January.
“I have loved it,” Holcomb said about his time in county government, particularly as county judge. “It’s been a great honor for me to serve as county judge and the people were confident enough in me that I never had opposition.”
Holcomb began his career with the county in 1977, working as a sheriff’s deputy under W.C. “Dub” Brassell, now deceased, then went to the Watson Chapel School District where he became director of security, while still associated with the sheriff’s department.
“The laws were different back then,” Holcomb said. “Then I ran for constable (of Spring Township) and served for 12 years before I ran for the quorum court.”
After serving one term on the county’s legislative body, Holcomb defeated former county judge Jack Jones in 2006, taking office as county judge on Jan. 1, 2007.
“At one time, I thought about running for sheriff but things took a different turn,” he said.
Holcomb said the six years he spent as county judge were “tough” because of the economy.
“A lot of other counties were having to cut their budgets and lay off people but we were fortunate here and didn’t have to do that,” he said.
He’s particularly proud of his involvement in getting the three-eights cent sales tax for economic development passed.
“If it (the tax) works like it is supposed to, we will all benefit,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb is also proud of the new district court building which was constructed and opened during his time in office.
“We sold the old jail and took part of the money, and used AOJ (Administration of Justice) and used multiple other funds to connect it to the jail,” he said. “That was a big accomplishment for Jefferson County and we saved thousands of man hours for deputies who used to have to spend time transporting people from jail to court and back.”
Holcomb said during his terms in office, there have been a lot of upgrades to county property and buildings, particularly the county road department.
“If you want other people to clean up around their property, you’ve got to clean up around yours first,” Holcomb said.
Upgrades on other county buildings, particularly the courthouse, also occurred during Holcomb’s time in office, with a new roof and other improvements.
“I’ve always had a passion for youth that I guess came from having worked in the schools,” Holcomb said. “I saw students and parents that were out of control. When I took office there was one part-time FINS (Families In Need of Services) officer. Now we’ve got six or seven full time working with the schools and with parents.”
Like many elected officials, Holcomb said his biggest disappointment was that he wasn’t able to do more because of the economy.
“I just didn’t have the money to work with,” he said.
Looking ahead to his first term in the House of Representatives, Holcomb said he expected the session will be dominated by health insurance related issues and education issues.
“We’re going to have to try and adjust the budget to make it work with all the cuts at the federal level,” he said.
Holcomb said because of the state Supreme Court decision this year on school funding, he expects that to also be an issue that will have to be addressed.
He was named to the Arkansas House Public Transportation Committee, which not only includes roads but also waterways and airports.
“Being county judge, transportation issues is something I’ve had some experience in,” Holcomb said.
“I wish when I came into office that I had known what I know now,” he said. “I’ve tried to be a county judge for everybody and to be as transparent as I could be. This has been an experience I will never forget.”