On Thursday, May 3, the Fulton County Hospital Foundation invited all local candidates to speak at a political rally, about why they are running for office and what they hope to accomplish if elected.
David Rothgeb of Mammoth Spring, who is running as a Democrat for Constable, was the first to speak.
Rothgeb has been trained as a reserve deputy, and worked as a reserve deputy and court bailiff under former Sheriff Walter Dillinger.
Rothgeb said he would respond to citizen calls for help, if elected, and expressed frustration that Fulton County Sheriff Buck Foley does not use the constable's services.
"Constables don't do a whole lot here (in Fulton County). They are supposed to serve papers (warrants) and do different things, but different counties do it differently."
While constables work without pay, Rothgeb has an opponent, Lynn "Arles" Linderman, who is also actively campaigning for the job.
Linderman, another Mammoth Spring resident and firefighter, works as a part-time jailer at the Fulton County Jail. He also believes a working constable could help the county.
"It's hard to send an officer out on a call by himself ,and we have to do it a lot, because the backup is not there," Linderman said. "I would like to make myself available to assist and back up any officer in the county."
Linderman added, as constable, he would be willing to walk school hallways and patrol school parking lots to provide a police presence at area schools.
State Representative Lori Benedict of Sturkie, a Republican who is seeking re-election, told the crowd she has been proud to represent Fulton County. She cited the Cottage Food Bill she introduced, which allows certain homemade foods to be sold at farmer's markets and public events, as one of her accomplishments, and evidence of her priority to try to help rural communities prosper.
"I will fight for our rights for Arkansas, and say 'no' to a lot of things (federal mandates and regulations) coming down from Washington D.C.," Benedict said. "I have noted "no" on an increase in taxes."
Benedict does not have an opponent in the primary, but her fall opponent, Democrat Scott Baltz of Pocahontas, was present at the political rally.
Baltz, a 10-year member of the Randolph County Quorum Court, praised Salem schools for their high test scores. Baltz said he would work to strengthen schools, because companies always want to locate in communities with strong education systems. Baltz said he was running for representative because, "bottom line: I care about people, and if you consider me, I will really work hard for you."
State Senator David Wyatt, a Democrat from Batesville, introduced himself to the Fulton County crowd.
"I know a lot of folks up in this area, but I need to get acquainted with a lot more," Wyatt said, explaining redistricting had given him parts of Fulton and Izard Counties to represent.
Wyatt said he spent 20 years as a county judge, and was "a friend of city and county governments."
Wyatt's challenger, Linda Collins-Smith of Pocahontas, did not attend the event.
Three Justice of the Peace candidates sought support -- Sherry Keylon, a Democrat running in District 2; Ray Matthew, a Democrat seeking the District 3 seat; and Gary Phillips, a Republican running in District 4.
Keylon, who lives in Mammoth Spring, said she was concerned about the county's future, after regularly attending Quorum Court and Hospital Board meetings, and seeing financial problems.
"I feel like there are a lot of things that can be done that are not being done, common sense things," Keylon said. "We have to run things like we run our homes. If there isn't money in our budget, we don't spend it. We have to allow not to expect money we don't have."
Ray Matthew is seeking the seat being vacated by Jim Bicker, which represents the Bexar/Viola area. The retired railroad worker said his experience as a track supervisor could be put to use dealing with road department issues. Matthew said he has the time to invest in the J-P job.
"I believe that the J-P position is basically a full time job. I don't think you can effectively be a good J-P if you're just at it two or three hours a month," Matthew said. "I think it's going to take a little bit of time every day of the week."
Gary Phillips lives in the J-P district which covers the north Salem area. He said he would ask the people in his district for help, if he is elected.
"Instead of nine folks going into a room and making the best decision they can, we need to access the strengths of the community -- the ideas, all of the information that people have out in the community -- and bring it into the process of Quorum Court," Phillips said.
Both Democratic candidates for County Treasurer were present. Seth Jones of Viola and Jamie Turnbough of Mammoth Spring are seeking the job Treasurer Donna Hall is giving up.
Turnbough, Mammoth Spring's Police Officer, said he has past political experience -- having served on the Mammoth Spring School Board and being elected as constable.
"I'm not going to say I know everything about the Treasurers office," Turnbough said. "Miss Hall, I met with her and I understand it's going to be a big responsibility. If elected, she assured that whoever was, she would help, so that makes me feel a lot better. But I will tell you I will take whatever training is necessary to make myself do the best job that I possibly can."
Seth Jones, who is a Fulton County Deputy Sheriff, spent four years in the Marines, and has worked in law enforcement since 2006.
"Kind of like Jamie, I don't have much experience in treasuring, but I'm hoping Miss Hall, Mr. Humphries, and I also talked to Mr. Hickinbotham a little bit, and they're all willing to help me out and point me in the right direction," Jones said.
Jones believes he can do the job because he is a hard worker, and he likes the advice he received from Judge Charles Willett.
"We are the disbursement agent for the county," Jones said. "We hand out the money, and Judge Willett said, 'Nobody can be mad at you if you're handing out a check.'"
Michale Watkins was the lucky candidate of the night. Watkins filed to replace her boss, Calvin "Buster" Smith, who is retiring as Tax Collector -- and she does not have an opponent.
Watkins said, however, she wasn't taking her victory for granted.
"I'm going to earn your support and respect," Watkins said. "I'm going to do the best job that I can for Fulton County."
Early primary voting is open during regular business hours until election day, May 22, at the County Clerk's office at the courthouse.
If you haven't registered to vote for the primary, you're out of luck. The deadline to register was April 23.