Wilkins considering run for county judge


State Rep. Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV, D-Pine Bluff, the longest serving legislator in Arkansas, is considering a run for Jefferson County judge.

The pastor of St. James United Methodist Church is serving his final term in the Arkansas House of Representatives.

In a prepared statement, Wilkins announced the formation of an exploratory committee for a potential run for office.

“I have had many constituents and friends encourage me to run for county judge as well as several other positions. However, I am seriously considering county judge because of my love and commitment to this community. I am humbled by the depth and expansive nature of support I have enjoyed for nearly two decades. What I want, is for the people of Jefferson County to have the best possible leadership to ensure the most positive outcome in the years to come in terms of jobs, economic development, and quality of life. So after much prayer, encouragement and consideration, I have decided to establish an exploratory committee to look at whether I should run, and if I run, what I can bring to benefit Jefferson County.”

For 10 years Wilkins was a state senator, having been elected to three consecutive terms after serving one term in the House, where both his parents served.

Currently, Wilkins serves as vice chair of the Joint Budget Committee and chair of the Special Language Committee. He is also past chairman of Legislative Joint Audit for the state of Arkansas, served two terms as assistant president pro tem of the Senate, past president of the Legislative Black Caucus and the Legislative Black Caucus Foundation (having served as founding member).

“The experience of chairing budget hearings and the opportunity several times of chairing several other committees, has made me the most experienced legislator in Arkansas. I am honored to have been given the opportunities to serve our community and the state of Arkansas by the voters and by my colleagues in the Senate and House,” Wilkins said. “If it is decided that I should run for county judge, I can assure the voters that I will to make a major difference in the lives of the people of Jefferson County,” he said.

Meanwhile, Assistant Pine Bluff Chef of Police Ivan Whitfield has announced he will make a second bid for the county judge’s position currently held by Dutch King.