Medford re-elected; Smith wins judge seat

Monday, November 8, 2004

The General Election of 2004 in Carroll County will go down in history as largest-ever voter turnout in recent memory.

An estimated 71 percent of registered voters elected a new county judge, re-elected the county sheriff to a fourth term, changed the makeup of the city council in Eureka Springs, and elected a new mayor in Green Forest.

In her 20 years in office, County Clerk Shirley Doss said Wednesday that she had never seen a turnout so large, with 10,595 people out of 14,881 registered voters joining the electoral process.

The most-watched local races were for county judge and sheriff.

Political observers were doubtful about Republican Bob Grudek's chances against home-grown Sheriff Chuck Medford.

Grudek, who moved here seven years ago, won just 45.7 percent of the vote, when the political rumors on the streets put Grudek neck-and-neck with Medford. Grudek, a former postal inspector, won 4,848 compared to Medford's 5.478. Grudek made several mistakes when it came to a sheriff's legal power over running a sheriff's office and a jail, but Medford refused to "sling mud," as he put it.

In fact, one political aide to Medford tried to get Medford to attack Grudek on his law enforcement and administrative experience, but Medford refused.

As it turned out, both men led gentlemanly campaigns. "I will not run a negative campaign," Medford said. Grudek's ads and local speeches mentioned his qualifications and plans for a new administration, but he also ran a positive campaign.

Democrat Ulys Kay Smith, who ran a quiet but steady campaign, walked away with 5,575 votes, or 52.6 percent of the total, compared to a much more vocal Republican Richard Williams, who won only 43 percent of the vote, or 4,622 total votes.

That makes Smith the first Democrat to win the seat in at least 15 years. Before Smith, Republican Phil Jackson held the post for more than a decade, and Republican Ed Robertson held the top administrative position for a couple of years before health problems forced his retirement. His temporary replacement, Mike Botelho, is also a Republican.

Williams, whose ads were sometimes accusatory, and who challenged the Quorum Court on the jail and other issues in public over the past two years, won a total of 43.6 percent of the vote.

Sheriff Medford said his win is the direct result of a good, solid department.

"We promised folks two years ago that we would crack down on methamphetamine, and it's pretty obvious we have done that. So far this year we broke down 29 meth labs, and we took down 26 last year. You can expect more busts, not less. With all the crime that is directly related to meth operations, you will see some big changes, I guarantee it."

Medford said drug dealers have three choices:

  • Move out of town.

  • End up in drug treatment.

  • Go to state prison.

    Medford, whose wife, Marjie, spearheaded his campaign, said he wanted to thank all the people who supported him, and promised more changes in the sheriff's office.

    "I'm going to start a special response team of some sort for tactical entries, wherever it is too dangerous for regular deputies or other local police agencies to enter on their own. I also plan to continue to work with other local agencies, including Benton, Washington, Missouri and other surrounding areas, because criminals know no boundaries."

    County Judge candidate Ulys K. Smith attributed his victory to the fact he has lived in Carroll County all his life and is well-known throughout the area.

    "I feel like being a native made the difference," he said. "A lot of people have gotten to know me over the years."

    He also noted that people didn't vote along party lines, at least not at the local level.

    "They were voting for the candidate, not the party," he said.

    Smith agreed that he kept a low profile during the campaign, as compared to his opponent, Richard Smith.

    "It was a low profile, but I had a lot of one-on-one visiting with people, either in the sandwich line at Stubbs grocery or out on the farm.

    "I had some apprehension," he admitted, "but a feeling of calm came over me election night because I had done all I could and it was in the hands of the voters. I am humbled and thankful for the results."

    Smith says his wife Yvonne has been a steadfast supporter, along with his family, co-workers and many friends.

    Smith will be working alongside interim judge Mike Botelho until January.

    "I'll start going in and coming up to speed," he explained. "Mike has done an excellent job in the interim capacity."

    He says his main focus after assuming office will be the transition into the new jail and bringing the 911 dispatching system on line.

    "That's how it looks at this time," he said. "I'll continue with what's already in place.

    Smith said he is looking forward to his tenure as county judge and wanted to thank "all the people for their support, confidence and kindness."

    He'll be sworn in on Jan. 2, like all the other candidates, except the Green Forest mayor, who will take office within 10 days, to fill out the vacant term of former Mayor Leonard Tidyman, who resigned.

    In Green Forest, independent candidate Richard Deweese easily defeated independent Joe Pierce, taking 72.2 percent of the mayoral vote compared to Pierce's 23.7 percent. Deweese won 460 votes, while, Pierce only took 151 votes.

    In the Quorum Court Justice of the Peace races, in District 1, Republican "Harley" Barnum defeated Democrat Robert Rizman with 56.7 percent of the vote to 39 percent of the vote.

    In District 2, Democrat Duane Coatney took 48.5 percent of the vote compared to Republican Rocky Whitely's 32 percent of the vote.

    In District 6, Republican Joe Mills defeated Democrat J. Carol Carey with 65.3 percent of the vote to Carey's 29.6 percent.

    In District 7, Republican Eva "Evie" Reeve won 51. 3 percent of the vote to Democrat Reba Stevens' 45.3 percent of the vote.

    Complete vote totals appear in the precinct-by-precinct pages inside this newspaper. Also, constables appear in the precinct-by-precinct sections.

    In Eureka Springs, Ward 1 Position 2 went to Rick Rojeck, with 56.9 percent of the vote compared to Lindblad's 37.9 percent.

    In Eureka Springs Ward 2 Position 1, Lori Weaver defeated James DeVito by a vote of 596 to 519.

    The Green Forest City Clerk race was a tight one, with a few extra votes going to Janell Compton, who won 305 votes compared to Debbie Greer, who won 301 votes.

    The Green Forest Alderman Ward 2, Position 1, ended up in a runoff between Kelly Hayhurst, with 298 votes, and Carroll Smith, who took 151 votes. John Deniz was eliminated with 146 votes.

    Unopposed candidates will not be listed due to space considerations.

    Proposed Constitutional Amendment 1, to extend term limits, was defeated in Carroll County, while Amendment 2 for economic development was successful. Amendment 3, defining a marriage as that between one man and one woman, won in Carroll County. Referred Question 1, the school maintenance and operation millage increase, was soundly defeated.

    However, statewide results on the amendments were not tabulated as of press time, and could change.

    In the presidential race, Carroll County voters went along the same lines as the rest of the country, with President Bush and Vice President Chaney winning 58 percent of the vote compared to John Kerry and John Edwards' 39.2 percent of the vote.

    In Carroll County, also, subject to statewide results, Republican Jim Holt defeated Democrat Blanche Lincoln; Republican Rep. John Boozman defeated Democrat Jan Judy; and local voters elected Supreme Court Justice Collins Kilgore over Jim Gunter.

    In Alpena, residents were asked to consider a one-cent sales tax, with half the revenue earmarked for the police department, and the remainder split between street projects and a future sewer fund. The measure failed, possibly because the ballot didn't explain the intent of the tax.

    Unofficial election results show: 6 Alpena voters residing in Carroll County were in favor of the tax, 10 were opposed; 2 Alpena voters on the Boone County side were in favor, and 6 were opposed ---- for a total of 8 for and 16 against.

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