Two more enter 2018 local races
In our print edition Wednesday, the Advance-Monticellonian erroneously reported that Monticello attorney John F. Gibson Jr. had announced his retirement. Gibson, 77, has not announced that he will retire. In a prepared statement, Gibson said in recent years he has limited his practice to primarily criminal defense work, and "that (his retirement) all depends on his ability to continue to serve his many clients and those who will need him." We apologize for our mistake, and regret any undue inconvenience the error has caused. The error has been removed from the story below.
Already, the list of 2018 candidates announcing they would either seek election or reelection is growing. Two others have joined Tim Nichols, who made public his intentions to seek the office of Drew County Sheriff earlier this month, and Quincy Ross, who filed for his late aunt Luevonda’s Circuit Judge vacant seat shortly after her death in December 2016.
This week, incumbent Drew County Circuit Clerk Beverly Burks announced her intentions to seek reelection and Vickey Haycox made known her desire to run for Drew County Clerk. Open primary elections will be held on May 22 for both Democrats and Republicans. Primary runoff elections, if needed, will be held on June 19. The General Election will be held on November 6. Candidates have until March 1 to file.
Burks is currently serving her second term in office.
“Serving as Circuit Clerk is both challenging and rewarding,” Burks said. “Most of the interactions people have with our office involve a court case of some kind—criminal charges, juvenile issues, a divorce or domestic abuse matter, a civil suit or even jury duty—and emotions can run high.
“My staff and I make every effort to clearly explain how the various processes work so that people, many of whom do not have previous experience with the justice system and can become frustrated with it, can understand what is happening and what the next steps in their cases will be. If people are informed and feel as though they have the opportunity to be heard in a legal matter, it can make the process less stressful or intimidating, and we try to keep that in mind when interacting with them. Of course, it’s rewarding to see justice done or a bad situation alleviated, and I’m always glad when that happens.”
Late last year, Burks obtained authorization from the Drew County Quorum Court to replace outdated software in her office, which will greatly improve the land-records system and streamline the case management and monthly reporting processes.
“This will be an advantage to not only the law firms, title companies and banks who record various documents with us, but to individuals as well,” she said.
“The circuit clerk’s office is responsible for keeping track of everything that is filed in all felony criminal, civil, domestic relations and juvenile cases, along with recording deeds, mortgages, liens and other property-related orders and instruments. We also are responsible for facilitating a large number of child support payments and summoning juries. Dozens of documents come through our office every day and my deputies and I must ensure that they are properly processed and stored to maintain the integrity of each file.
“We have developed good working relationships with attorneys, judges and their staffs, the prosecuting attorney’s office, public defenders and law enforcement agencies. It’s a big job, and we work hard everyday to do what we can to make the justice system work as smoothly as possible, at least as far as our office is concerned.”
Burks, who lives in Wilmar, is a graduate of Monticello High School and Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn. She assists with her family’s cattle operation and serves as church secretary and Sunday school superintendent at Wilmar United Methodist Church. She is secretary of the Wilmar Cemetery Association, a life member of the Junior Auxiliary of Monticello and a member of the Southeast Arkansas Concert Association board.
She also is a member of the Monticello Book Group and Monticello Women’s Investment Club. She is the daughter of Shirley Burks of Wilmar and the late James Burks.
“I appreciate the trust the voters have placed in me in my first two terms, and sincerely ask for their support again this year,” Burks said.
Haycox, a lifelong resident of Monticello and Drew County, said she did not make her decision quickly now did she untake her candidacy lightly.
“After much deliberation, thought and prayer,” Haycox wrot in a letter obtained by the Advance-Monticellonian, “it is my honor, privilege and pleasure to announce my candidacy for the position of Drew County Clerk. The decision to run for this office was not made haphazardly. Elections are not ever an easy task. However, I am confident that change is not always a bad thing and that through God’s leading and your help, the change that you see will be positive.”
Haycox is running for the position currently held by incumbent County Clerk Lyna Gulledge, who has not anounced for reelection as of yet. The same goes for incumbent Drew County Sheriff Mark Gober, who Nichols is opposing.
Haycox currently serves as a legal assistant to Monticello attorney John F. Gibson Jr. As a lifelong resident, she attended Drew County schools and was an educator prior to her current position.
She listed six reasons why she wants to be county clerk in her letter:
• A passion for Drew County;
• A desire to serve all the citizens of Drew County;
• A desire to build relationships with and among the cutizens, other city and county offices of Drew County and through state offices;
• A desire to be transparent with elections and help with availability for all citizens;
• Maintaining an open door to the needs of the people; and
• Keeping an open mind to changes that are needed and helping implement the necessayr changes through the proper channels.
“I want you to know that your support and vote are very important to me,” Haycox wrote in the final paragraph of her letter to the citizens of Drew County. “You are encouraged to contact me with any questions or concerns. Together, we can make positive changes in our local government and community.”