The position of Washington County judge is up for election, and there are two men this year who want to earn the student vote.
One of those men is Alderman Mark Kinion, a retired senior executive from GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, and the former president and chief operating officer of Bio-tech Pharmacal. The other is Joseph K. Wood, the Arkansas deputy secretary of state in charge of the Communication and Education division, as well as the Business and Commercial Services commission.
Kinion is running under the Democratic party, and Wood is running under the Republican party, according to the Washington County website.
They will be taking over the position from County Judge Marilyn Edwards, who has had the position since 2008 and is in her fourth term, according to the Washington County website.
The position covers 13 departments, and the judge presides over the Quorum Court, which is like the city council for Washington County. It also covers county employees, roads and bridges, emergency readiness and the budget, according to the Washington County website.
County judges have veto power but cannot vote in the Quorum Court, according to the Washington County website.
Kinion was the vice mayor of Fayetteville for two terms, which gave him “direct experience of managing a voting body of members,” he said.
In a similar vein, Wood will work “with elected officials, Quorum Court, and citizens of the county to keep our county thriving,” Wood said in an email.
One of the main issues facing the county judge is the issue of road maintenance, as there are about 1,000 miles of roads in the county. It is also the largest part of the budget, Kinion said.
Kinion said that because he has had family in Washington County for six generations, he knows the roads well.
If elected, Wood will focus on improving infrastructure, making Washington County a destination, increasing education employee engagement and ensuring emergency preparedness security, which, when combined, makes IDEaS, which is his campaign platform acronym, he said in an email.
“Economic development because of strong infrastructure, keeps citizens here and others coming to the county,” Wood said in an email.
Kinion attended the UofA, where he completed undergraduate and graduate school and was the Associated Student Government treasurer and president, and is on the Town and Gown Committee, connecting the town of Fayetteville and the university, Kinion said.
Wood is a graduate of Iowa State University and Ecclesia College. He also worked for the National Louis University and as assistant director for the University of Chicago Law School, he said in an email. In the financial industry, he worked as a state bank examiner, and in the retail industry, he has worked with Wal-Mart and Home Depot in high-level positions.
“As county judge, I welcome the opportunity to work closer with university students,” Wood said.
Washington County Judge elections are on Election Day, Nov. 8.