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Professor, Independent Candidate Weigh In On Partisan Sheriff Races

BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) — After Thursday night’s (Jan. 14) public forum with the Republican Benton County sheriff candidates, the question was raised a...

BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- After Thursday night's (Jan. 14) public forum with the Republican Benton County sheriff candidates, the question was raised about why sheriff's races are partisan.

Janine Parry, a University of Arkansas political science professor, said there is a simple answer to that question.

"The reality is that a great majority of states, 40 of them right now, sheriffs are elected on partisan ballots," Parry said. " And that's how it has happened since the beginning of statehood for really every state including Arkansas."

Parry said if the races were to change to non-partisan, two key results would happen.

"You'll see less voter turnout in those elections," Parry said. "It will cost individuals more money to become viable candidates and certainly to win in those elections."

Glenn Latham is running as an Independent candidate in the Benton County Sheriff's race. At Thursday night's forum, he wasn't allowed to participate because of his party affiliation.

"I think you're always at a disadvantage as an Independent, because you will not have the party participation like last night," Latham said. "You won't be able to play in all the reindeer games."

Whoever wins the Republican primary will face Latham in November. The other candidates are incumbent Sheriff Kelley Cradduck, Tim Filbeck, Paul Pillaro and Shawn Holloway.

Latham said the race should be non-partisan to get more people involved.

"Especially historically in Benton County only the Republican party has been allowed to vote for sheriff," Latham said. "I'm registered Republican but the law pretty much is what guides the sheriff's office, and all of the citizens should be able to vote for the sheriff because the sheriff serves all of the people."

The primary election is March 1, 2016.

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