May 14, 2008 Edition

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Voters to decide county
judge, sheriff positions




Gretchen Hunt

When the voters go to the polls on Tuesday, the Democratic primary will decide several races including who will be county judge and sheriff.

County judge

Incumbent County Judge Alex Latham and Portia Mayor Dale Freeman will be vying for the county judge position in Tuesday's election.

Latham is serving in his 10th term as county judge.

"I have balanced the budget and kept the county in the black with the assistance of the other elected county officials," Latham said in his formal announcement for office. "I have worked with the city and state officials to provide the best services possible for Lawrence County without raising taxes. Because of this working relationship, we have had many accomplishments during my tenure as your county judge."

Latham has lived in Lawrence County all of his adult life and is former owner of Latham's Grocery, a longtime Lawrence County business. He and his wife of 43 years, Lynda, live in Portia and have one daughter, Angela.

Freeman, who is now a cattle farmer, retired from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad after 36 years of service. With over 20 years of experience, Freeman has had a lifelong desire for public service. He has served as justice of the peace and city councilman, as well as mayor of Portia and Minturn.

"I will be more efficient with the taxpayers' hard-earned money," Freeman said when he announced his bid for office. "I will take bids on all work, equipment and gravel to keep as much money in Lawrence County as possible. I will not support raising taxes or millage rates. I promise to be a hands on judge with an open door policy, either myself or the road foreman will be available seven days a week."

Freeman and his wife, Mary, live in Powhatan.

County sheriff

Lawrence County Sheriff Dan Ellison will face challenger Lewis Slaughter.

Ellison said that his main priority as sheriff has been and will continue to be the pursuit of any and all meth dealers.

"I intend to keep up the pressure," he said when he announced his re-election bid. "I don't have to tell anyone what a scourge meth is, and we all know the close connection between drugs and theft. My goal has been and always will be to put drug dealers and thieves ~ destroyers of people and communities ~ out of business. I don't intend to let these people win in Lawrence County."

Ellison has been in law enforcement and law enforcement administration his entire adult life. He is a native of Lawrence County. He was born and raised in Portia and graduated from Clover Bend High School.

Slaughter, a resident of Black Rock, has served two terms on the Lawrence County Quorum Court and owns Black Rock Auction Company.

"In my opinion, the county needs and deserves a full-time commitment to this office," Slaughter said in his formal announcement. "I especially believe the rural businesses, farmers, citizens and homeowners and property owners need the focus and dedication of their only law enforcement agency. I also believe the county sheriff's office should be ready and willing to assist city, state and federal departments any time they are needed. Until that help is requested, the job of your county office is to protect rural areas with their full attention and constant patrol 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Slaughter has been a governing board member of Black River Area Development, Hoxie and Walnut Ridge Rails to Trails chairman; a capital improvement board member for Williams Baptist College; a Kiwanis Club board member; and a member of Lions Club.

Other countywide offices that are contested include county clerk and district judge. County Clerk Tina Stowers is facing Ashley Forrester, and Judge Larry Hayes is facing Vickie Warner. Profiles on these four candidates appeared in last week's TD.

To view sample ballots of all races on the Democratic Primary ballot see page 15A of this edition. There are no races on the Republican ballot.

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