If he is elected Jefferson County Judge, former Pine Bluff Mayor Dutch King said his top priority will be “jobs, jobs, jobs.
“We’ve got to get good-paying jobs with decent benefits,” King said. “There a lot of people who have got jobs, but they don’t have benefits and that’s a tough situation.”
King was mayor of Pine Bluff for four years and was an alderman for six years.
He defeated Pine Bluff Assistant Chief of Police Ivan Whitfield in a runoff for the Democratic nomination for county judge, collecting 51 percent of the vote to 49 percent for Whitfield.
He is being opposed by Justice of the Peace Ted Harden, a Republican, who had no opposition in the primary.
King said the passage of a sales tax increase in February 2011 to promote economic development will help Jefferson County compete for good jobs with other parts of the state.
“I’m going to work with the (Economic Development) Alliance and the Tax Board and the fact that the people passed the tax for economic development gave us the biggest shot in the arm we’ve ever had,” King said. “Now we can go to the governor and to the state and say we’re able to do this or that, and can you help us?
“It means that we’re able to compete with Northeast Arkansas, and Central Arkansas, and Northwest Arkansas,” King said.
He said if elected, he will have to learn some things “on the job” but noted that he had managed businesses and been in politics for most of his life.
“I can work with anyone and everyone,” King said. “I enjoy working with people and helping people who need help and if I’m elected, I’m going to do the best job I can do for all the people of Jefferson County.”
King said he had though about getting back into politics four years ago, but at that time, couldn’t leave his businesses, Arkansas Marketers and Applied Energy.
“I thought about the mayor’s race but there were so many people in that race, and then I looked at the county judge’s race and at that time, there was only one person who had announced (Whitfield),” King said. “I got a lot of encouragement and decided if I was ever going to do it (get back into politics), I needed to do it now.”
During the campaign, King said roads have been a topic of concern for many of the resident’s he has spoken with.
“We’ve got a lot of roads all over Jefferson County and I want to try and reach out and help all of Jefferson County but we’re going to have to spend our money wisely,” King said. “We’ve got to have good roads and good infrastructure because those are some of the things industries look at when they’re considering a place to locate.”
On the subject of public safety, King said he would work with whomever is elected sheriff “to do everything I can to make the county safer, and make sure the sheriff’s department has the tools and resources to fight crime and reduce it as much as we can.”
With revenue for 2013 projected to be significantly less than 2012, King said that although current County Judge Mike Holcomb and the Quorum Court will adopt the 2013 budget, if he is elected, he will have to “live with that budget.
“We’re going to have to be frugal and be careful how we spend money,” King said. “We’ve got to try and get the biggest bang for our bucks that we can because we’re not talking about play money, we’re talking about real money.”