Who Are All These People On My Ballot?
Have you looked at your sample ballot yet? When you do, did you see an office on your ballot that you've never heard of before?
You're not alone! Many people who move to Arkansas from out of state are surprised to hear we call our elected county officials "justices of the peace" instead of "county commissioners."
So what are these offices and what do these people do?
Assessor - The Assessor is responsible for the daily operations of the Assessor's office. The major duty is listing and valuation of real and personal property in the county as established by the Arkansas Constitution and the State Personal and Property Tax Code §26-26-717.
Circuit Clerk - The Circuit Clerk is the clerk of Circuit and Juvenile Courts and acts as the ex-officio recorder.
Constable - Constables are peace officers with police powers elected at the township level, although you will often hear them referred to as county constables. They serve two-year terms.
Coroner - A coroner is a government official who confirms and certifies the death of an individual within a jurisdiction. A coroner may also conduct or order an investigation into the manner or cause of death, and investigate or confirm the identity of an unknown person who has been found dead within the coroner's jurisdiction. Responsibilities may include overseeing the investigation and certification of deaths related to mass disasters that occur within the coroner's jurisdiction. A coroner's office typically maintains death records of those who have died within the coroner's jurisdiction.
County Clerk - The County Clerk maintains all of the Records for County Court, and record all orders signed by the County Judge. (This includes annexations, road vacancies, election results, candidate reports, etc.)
County Judge - The County Judge presides over the Quorum Court which has budgetary and administrative authority over county government operations. The judge holds hearings, appoints board members and prepares annual budgets. The judge is also head of civil defense, disaster relief and the road department. Burning bans are also determined by the judge.
County Surveyor - The county surveyor assists the county assessor and general public with locating property surveys, historical research, general survey questions, and interpreting and understanding legal descriptions.
County Treasurer - The Treasurer is responsible for receiving all monies belonging to the county and keeping an accounting in a designated depository. The Treasurer is also responsible for paying or disbursing all monies as directed by law and maintains records for all banking transactions.
Justice of the Peace - The Quorum Court, as the collective body of Justices of the Peace is called, assist the County Judge in levying the county taxes and making appropriations. Otherwise known as approving the county's budget. They are similar to a city council, but represent people across an entire county at the township level. They serve two-year terms.
Sheriff - The Sheriff is considered the top lawman in the county and performs a range of duties including criminal investigations, traffic law enforcement, and county jail operation.
Tax Collector - The collector is responsible for collecting all property taxes for the County, School, Municipal and Improvements Districts.
Want to know more? The Association of Arkansas Counties has published guides for several of these offices. You can find more about county governmental operations by reading the Introduction to County Government chapter in the 2018 County Judges Procedural Manual.
You've heard of mayor and council members. Here are some other elected city officials.
City Clerk - The city clerk is responsible for maintaining laws and ordinances, minutes of meetings, and other records of city government. The clerk creates agendas for public meetings, and receives candidate and initiative petitions and coordinates city elections.
City Treasurer - In many cities, the clerk and treasurer position are combined. The treasurer is responsible for the administration of accounts payable and receivables and for maintaining business licenses.