Leader Blues

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TOP STORY > >Democrat challenges White County judge

Leader staff writer

The race for White County judge this year is a rematch between Michael Lincoln, the Republican incumbent, and Democrat Dennis Gillam who ran as an independent two years ago when he lost to Lincoln.

Lincoln said this week that his campaign is going well and voters should give him another two years on the job.

He’s established a good working relationship with other elected officials, business leaders and the public, Lincoln said. And despite bad weather and heavy use by gas company trucks, the roads are in good repair.

His arrangement with the gas companies, he said, is that if they tear up the roads, the county repairs them and the gas companies pay the bills. In somecases, the gas companies even provide part of the labor and material for repairs on gravel roads, he said.

Gillam, a retired business owner, said as he goes door to door talking to county voters, he tells them that he is the candidate with good basic leadership skills and he is the one who will work for economic development that will help the county after the gas-drilling boom is over.

Gillam, who now lives in Judsonia but is a former Beebe resident, does not accept the prevailing belief that you must be a Republican with a Searcy mailing address to be elected White County judge. But he does believe that Searcy gets more attention from that office than it is entitled to. “All our eggs are in one basket in Searcy, but 75 percent of the people live in the rural areas,” Gillam said. “For ex-ample, Beebe is very important economically, but it’s ignored.”

Gillam says tax-free bonds should be used to develop an industrial park and encourage industry to move in so that county residents will still have jobs when the well-drilling has ended.

Lincoln said a company that makes tanks has already moved to White County because of the drilling industry, but will likely stay after drilling ends because gas tanks make up only about 10 percent of the business.

As for offering incentives to bring businesses to the county, Lincoln says he is opposed to that.

“The less government intervention in the private business sector, the better off we are,” Lincoln said.