What is a County Judge?
Updated Blog Post
Are you looking at your sample ballot for the Nov. 8 Arkansas election? There are a lot of elected jobs on the ballot that people might not be as familiar with as they'd like to be.
Today we highlight the job of a county judge.
County Judge in Arkansas
The role of a county judge is an administrative one in Arkansas. The county judge is the CEO of a county, an elected official responsible for the day-to-day business of running county government.
The historic title can cause confusion for people who aren't familiar with this elected position because a county judge isn't hearing criminal court cases. In other states, the administrative role of County Judge is often called the County Administrator.
Term in Office: A constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2016 changed the term of a county judge from two years to four years. The pay for the job varies depending on the population of the county, and is set by the Quorum Court.
The Association of Arkansas Counties reported salaries ranging from just under $20,000 up to $133,000 in their 2020 county government salary survey. The survey indicated some county judges worked part-time.
- At least 25 years old
- Registered to vote in their county
- No fraud or felony convictions
Over their four-year term, a county judge is responsible for:
- Maintaining and having custody of county property
- Overseeing public roads and bridges outside city limits
- Administering county ordinances
- Presiding over the Quorum Court, where the judge has veto power but not a vote
- Authorizing county spending or paying of bills
- Accepting grants from outside entities
- Hiring county employees that don't work for another county official
- Hearing property tax appeals (this is where that judge title comes in)
- Meeting with local mayors at least once a year for intergovernmental meetings
In some counties, judges have assisted with burial costs for indigent people or have created community service programs.
Look at Your November Ballot
Early voting starts Oct. 24 and Election Day is Nov. 8. Find out what is on your ballot at the Arkansas Secretary of State's VoterView website, https://www.voterview.ar-nova.org/VoterView.
Use our 2022 Arkansas Ballot Issues Voter Guide to learn about the constitutional amendments on this year's ballot.