Jefferson County Sheriff Gerald Robinson reacts to comments made by his opponent Roger McLemore during the candidate forum at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff on Tuesday. (Special to The Commercial/William Harvey)
Jefferson County Sheriff Gerald Robinson admitted Tuesday night that he works roughly 20 hours a month in a security position at Fairfield Federal Credit Union, but contends that his part-time job has no bearing on his “more than full-time” elected position.
Robinson, an incumbent Democrat, spoke about his second job after his independent opponent in the Nov. 6 general election, retired Arkansas State Police investigator Roger McLemore, referenced it Tuesday night.
The two were among several candidates in a student government association-sponsored political forum at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
The issue was brought up during closing remarks and a reporter questioned the sheriff outside the Howard-Hathaway Fine Arts Center Auditorium, the forum site.
“I work more hours as sheriff than probably any of my predecessors,” Robinson said after acknowledging his part-time occupation.
Defending his extra income – the amount of which he did not disclose – he said that a number of other area law enforcement officers have second jobs and his record as sheriff is impeccable. He stressed that the sheriff’s office has been “consistently running in the black” financially during his administration.
“What’s the difference between him (McLemore) drawing a retirement check and working full time and me working full-time and having a part-time job?” Robinson asked. “I’m not trying to hide anything and I don’t see anything wrong with it.”
Robinson said he’s been a part-time employee of the credit union, located at 3310 Camden Road, since “2004 or 2005” and had never previously received a complaint on his role there.
“As a matter of fact, a lot of people like it because they know that I’ll be there on Friday mornings and they can come by and see me when they’re out taking care of business,” he said.
McLemore raised the topic in his closing remarks during the forum, saying Robinson’s credit union job indicates “not everybody” at the sheriff’s office is “working” on what McLemore termed “a continuing crime problem” within the city and county.
In earlier remarks, McLemore said, “It’s time to fight crime,” and if elected he would work closely with UAPB campus and city police in helping to make the college campus safer.
“White people are scared to come out” to UAPB, McLemore said. “Some black folks” are also afraid to be in the area, he said. McLemore said he thought the return of a mounted patrol could help in eliminating those fears.
Responding to those comments, Robinson said he doesn’t see any sense in “going back” to “the horse and buggy days.”
The candidates were asked what might be done to lower the domestic violence rate within the county. A moderator noted that Jefferson County is reportedly one of the most dangerous counties in incidents of domestic abuse.
Robinson said that the figuring is somewhat “skewed” because the county was “measured with areas with populations of 100,000,” but added that he and his deputies are dedicated to reducing domestic violence here.