Pike County Judge candidates were posed a series of questions and asked to submit them to the Murfreesboro Diamond.
The questions asked were:
#1. Name, Age, Previous Profession(s)?
#2. What do you feel are your qualifications to hold your chosen office that make you the one most uniquely suited to serve in the position?
#3. What qualities/characteristics, outside of the above listed qualifications, do you think makes you the best choice for office?
#4. Excluding the “It’s a paying job” answer, for what reasons did you decide to run for public office?
#5. What are your goals and plans after being elected?
#6. In what ways do you feel you can improve/operate your office to better serve the needs of the citizens of Pike County and to help improve Pike County as a whole?
#7. When they are standing in front of the voting machine, what would you like the imminent voter to know about you before they cast their ballot?
Two of the three qualified candidates replied — Keith Couch, who is an independent candidate and will not appear on the ballot until the November 2018 general election, did not submit answers.
Candidates are listed in alphabetical order. Travis Branch and Pike County Judge Dewight Mack are candidates for the office in the Democratic Preferential Primary which will be held in Pike County on Tuesday, May 22.
Travis Branch, 40, I currently own and operate Branch Welding Service and also fill in as a general mechanic at Castle Diesel Repair. I was also the Mayor of Murfreesboro from 2010 to 2014. From 2011 to 2015 I owned and operated Branch Excavating Service. Prior to owning my own business, I worked as a welder and heavy equipment operator for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. I also served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1996 to 2005.
#2. I feel that I have been on both sides of the spectrum and that makes me uniquely qualified to serve as the Pike County Judge. I have owned and operated my own road building equipment. Also, after serving four years as the Mayor of Murfreesboro, I have the knowledge of budgets and municipality funds to assist in managing the administrative side.
#3. I have the “real world” knowledge and experience of taking care of the citizens and their needs. I have supervised up to 35 men rebuilding the levees around New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. I worked for the L.J. Earnest company building roads from clearing the land to laying new asphalt. I have experience working with budget committees and I understand the grant writing process. I have bought and sold heavy equipment so I am very familiar with the cost of the equipment and the associated maintenance cost involved.
#4. I want to serve the citizens of Pike County. I believe that the position of Pike County Judge is what all my experience has prepared me for. I want to use my knowledge and experience in road building and repair to help the people of Pike County as much as possible.
#5. My goals and plans, if elected, are to work alongside the existing road crew in setting monthly and yearly goals. One plan is to collect data on the road and bridges that need repair and then communicate with the existing county crew members to establish a plan of action. This plan will include monthly and yearly checkpoints.
#6. Pike County is not just one town. We need to realize as citizens of Pike County that if an improvement takes place outside of town it is for the betterment of the county. We cannot focus on one town or city. I feel we have to look at Pike County at one whole, not several different pieces.
#7. When standing in front of the voting screen, I want the voter to see my name and think of a U.S. Army Veteran who has the knowledge and experience and work ethic to serve as the Pike County Judge. I want everyone to know that I truly care about Pike County and its citizens and want very badly to see the county grow and prosper.
Dewight Mack, 60, my previous profession was that I owned and operated Trojan Transport for 16½ years. I served on the Quorum Court for 5½ years and was appointed by the Governor of Arkansas to serve on the Arkansas Manufactured Home Commission. I served as Vice-Chair for two years and served as Chairman for 4 years. I am still an active board member.
#2. My qualifications are that I am honest and dependable and I am able to work well with the public. I have three years experience as your county judge and have worked hard to keep the county moving forward in a positive direction. I am very motivated to take on challenges, seek grant funding, and improve this county in every way possible. I have been blessed to have a great road and sanitation department whose main concern is to work hard for the people of the county.
#3. My ability to run my own business successfully has given me the knowledge to wisely make decisions regarding the county’s money and issues that arise daily. I will not resist changes that arise, but will embrace it and adapt to if it proves to better our county.
#4. The reason I decided to run for public office is because I felt a strong need to be a servant of Pike County. I felt that I had the knowledge and experience to hold this position and make positive changes. This is the county in which I was born and raised and I take great pride calling it home.
#5. My goals and plans, if re-elected, is to continue to work tirelessly to obtain more grant money for county improvements, continue to work with the Southwest Arkansas Intermodal Authority to entice new industry in the county, maintain and improve the county road system, acquire resource officers in our county schools, and restore and preserve the Pike County Courthouse.
#6. One way I feel I could improve my office to better serve Pike County is to inform the county that my office is transparent and I have an “Open Door” policy. I work for you, the citizens, and at any time, if you have any questions about anything, please feel free to stop by or call me. I feel communication with the citizens of the county is the most important.
#7. I would want the voter to know that I am a Christian by faith, honest, and will do what is best for the county.