Wednesday, November 03, 2010

TOP STORY >> GOP sweeps Lonoke County

Leader senior staff writer

Lonoke County was no safe harbor from the anti-Democratic, anti-incumbent tsunami that washed across the country and the state in Tuesday’s General Election, sweeping all opposed Lonoke County Democratic officials from office and replacing them with Republican challengers.

Gone from office in the blink of an eye are County Judge Charlie Troutman, who lost by a three-to-two ratio to Republican challenger Doug Erwin, an auctioneer and real estate agent.
Vote totals Tuesday night did not include 372 absentee ballots that hadn’t been counted and another 50 ballots from the Keo area, according to Election Commissioner Juanita Horn.
Also swept aside in the torrent was longtime Assessor Jerry Adams, who managed only 45 percent of the vote against his challenger Jack McNally. McNally was arrested recently after an altercation at a candidates forum in Cabot. Adams was one of the county employees who “retired,” began collecting benefits and then went back to work to also collect his salary.
Circuit Clerk Deborah Oglesby lost to Denise Brown by about 1,000 votes out of about 16,000 cast, and District 1 JP Jodie Troutman will be replaced by Republican Joe Farrar, who garnered about 66 percent of the vote in a three- person race.

Three-term Republican Sheriff Jim Roberson, currently the only countywide Republican office holder, turned back a challenge from former Sheriff Charlie Martin, winning nearly three quarters of the votes.

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams, also a Republican, will take Dist. 28 state Sen. Bobby Glover’s place in the state Senate. Glover was forced into retirement by term limits. Williams beat Lenville Evans 13,989 to 7,899 for the honor.

When was the last time Lonoke had a Republican county judge?
“I don’t ever remember one,” said Glover, 74, who has been in Lonoke County politics for half a century. 

He said Williams would also be the first Republican state senator to represent Lonoke County as far as he can remember.

“It didn’t surprise me so much on the national and state level, but I never dreamed of it dropping down to the county level. There is such a large number of Republicans in the north part of the county.”
County Treasurer Karol DePriest, a Democrat, and County Clerk Dawn Porterfield, also a Democrat, were unopposed and thus held onto their jobs.

Also swept into the prosecutor’s office was Republican Chuck Graham, who won 61 percent of the vote to beat Democrat Tim Blair for the open position. The last elected prosecutor was Republican Lona McCastlain, who left office when her husband was deployed to Germany. Gov. Beebe filled the vacancy with Democrat Will Feland. Graham was McCastlain’s chief deputy.

Erwin, the new county judge, said he didn’t know what changes his administration would bring to the county, nor what his top priority would be. 

But he was all smiles, posing for pictures with friends, family and supporters, including former JP Bill Pedersen, who has been an ardent opponent on Troutman’s for years.

Troutman said he had congratulated Erwin. “He’ll do fine,” he said.
“I’m leaving the county in better shape than I found it,” said the judge.

What’s next for Troutman?

“I’m going to check on my retirement,” he said.

Jodie Troutman, his daughter-in-law, said she’d keep busy taking care of her rental properties and “paying my taxes.”

Horn, the election commissioner, said counting was slowed by problems with the new paper rolls used for the real-time audit logs.

The new paper rolls hold only half the number of votes as the old rolls, but they are more expensive and they have to be changed more often.