Pike County voters headed to the polls in May will decide the outcome of five contested races, including a three-way race for county judge and a seven-way race for an unpaid constable position.
As the filing period was coming to a close, most voters knew they would have a two-man race for county judge between Keith Couch of Nathan and Dewight Mack of Kirby. But Friday afternoon, John Young of Newhope surprised county officials when he added his name to the race for Pike County’s top seat.
Young, 61, is the owner of the Newhope One Stop, the town’s sole business. He is a native of Indiana but his wife, Brenda, hails from the area and they have resided in Pike County for the last 39 years. Young worked for Weyerhaeuser in Dierks for 26 years. He and wife have two grown children, Shane Young, an insurance agent and former Diamond Bank official, and Shannon Qualls, a teacher at Lake Hamilton.
Young told The Nashville Leader Monday that his campaign platform will be “working toward the future.” He added that his time operating the store has given him the needed experience of working with people and working within a balanced budget while his time with Weyerhaeuser has provided him with knowledge of heavy equipment associated with being a county judge.
Couch is making his second run for Pike County judge this year. He was defeated in 2012 by longtime office holder, Don Baker of Glenwood, who will not seek re-election. Couch has been employed by the Upper Southwest regional Solid Waste Management district for seven years. He holds a master’s license for solid waste disposal and an illegal dumps control officer license – both issued by the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.
Couch and his wife, Noelle, an employee of First State Bank in Nashville, have two daughters, Karly and Kaylie.
“If elected, I have no other business to run or properties to manage and will be 100 percent dedicated to Pike County and all the people in it,” Couch stated in his campaign announcement.
Mack is a former Pike County Justice of the Peace and director of the North Pike County Rural Water Association Board. He has also served as chairman of the Arkansas Manufactured Home Commission.
Mack and his wife, Laura Kay, are lifelong resident of Pike County. They have a daughter and son-in-law, Beth and Trey Shelton, and a granddaughter, Ali.
“My lifetime of professional and volunteer experience has prepared me to serve our county in a positive way with eyes toward the future,” said Mack in his campaign announcement.
Other contested races
The position that drew the most candidates this year is that of the Mountain Township Constable, located on the north end of Pike County. The position was last held by the late Robert McElhanon.
The seven candidates seeking the unpaid position on the Democratic ballot include:
Brent M. Staggs, Don Comeaux, Algie Wade Coffman, LaVoyce Wilder, Randy Davis and Chris Tompson. Buddy Green has also filed for the position on the Republican ticket.
Incumbent Ricky Branch is the sole candidate for south Pike County Missouri Township constable, also an unpaid position.
Three of Pike County’s nine seats on the Quorum Court are also contested races.
The Justice of the Peace District 2 seat (Murfreesboro area), which is currently held by Rodney Fagan, will include newcomers Robbie Crocker and Donna Riddle. Fagan is not seeking re-election this year as he plans to soon move out of the district’s boundaries.
JP District 3 (Delight area) incumbent Ricky Buck has drawn an opponent in Randy Abbott.
JP District 7 (Nathan area) incumbent Jerry Kizzia will face Kenneth Crow on the Democratic ticket while David Sirmon has filed on the Republican ticket.
No candidates filed for the office of Pike County coroner, which is held by Michelle Feuget of Murfreesboro, who was appointed last year to fulfill the term vacated by Kenny White.
Uncontested positions on the May 20 ballot include:
County Clerk – incumbent Sandy Campbell of Nathan; Circuit Clerk – Sabrina Williams of Murfreesboro; Assessor – incumbent Beckie Alden of Murfreesboro; Treasurer – incumbent Loletia Pate Rather of Murfreesboro; Sheriff and Collector – incumbent Charlie Caldwell of Glenwood; JP District 1 – incumbent John Terrell of Murfreesboro; JP District 4 – incumbent Ed Jones of Antoine; JP District 5 – Jerry Fendley of Kirby; JP District 6 – incumbent Verl Stovall of Langley (Republican); JP District 8 – Johnny Plyler of Glenwood; and JP District 9 – Paul Baker of Glenwood.