On March 31, at the third part of the Hot Springs Village Republican Primary Candidate Forum, Saline County Republicans addressed HSV residents. Saline County Justice of the Peace, Keith Keck, was the Forum Moderator.

Keck explained that the County Judge position is similar to being the “mayor” of the county.

The candidates at this portion of the meeting include:

Matt Brumley, Candidate for Saline County Judge

Rick Long, Candidate for Saline County Judge

Rodney Wright, Incumbent Candidate for Saline County Sherrif

Thomas Burchfield, Candidate for Saline County Treasurer

Ragan Kyzer, Candidate for Saline County Treasurer

Holly Sanders, Candidate for Saline County Treasurer

Jennifer Carter, Candidate for Saline County Tax Collector

David (Davie) Gibson, Candidate for Saline County Tax Collector

Matt Brumley, Candidate for Saline County Judge

“I am going to talk about the things that I am passionate about – and that is Saline County.”

Brumley moved to Saline County 30 years ago from Texas. “It was the people in Saline County that made a difference. Where I lived in Texas, everybody cared about themselves.”

“There was a time in my life where I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do.” He said there was a horrible accident and he was not qualified to render help. This led Brumley to enroll in CPR classes at Saline Memorial Hospital. Taking this class piqued Brumley’s interest in becoming an EMT.

“I absolutely fell in love with the thought of being able to give all I’ve got to somebody that needs my help. I made a career out of it.”

Brumley said he could not become an EMT at the hospital where he took the EMT classes because he was too young to be covered by their insurance policy. “So I went to Pine Bluff, Arkansas. What a great place to learn to be a paramedic. Within 24 hours I felt like I could do anything. The only thing they were concerned about was ‘would I be able to touch the gas and brake pedal’. And I was.”

Saline County Republican Candidates Forum Matt Brumley Saline County Judge
Matt Brumley, Candidate for Saline County Judge

In 1999 a Directorship position opened over emergency services at Saline Memorial Hospital. Brumley spent 16 years in this position where he said he was able to learn about the needs of the community.

“If you live in Garland County, you are important to me, too. I love my neighbors and if their house is on fire, it’s probably going to affect mine. If they are doing good, it’s probably going to have a great impact on me, also. Those relationships are important.”

Brumley said in his Directorship position, that he had a responsibility to become acquainted with many officials, law enforcement officers, and other first responders.

“I had a calling in my life, while I was doing all of this [Director of Emergency Services at Saline Memorial Hospital]. ” Brumley’s calling was to start, “Amplify Fest”. This is a musical festival that takes place in Saline County. “Over the past 11 years, we went from just a handful of people showing up, to 63,000 attendees in 2018.” Over two days time, “they came to hear the good news of Jesus and the Gospel. We celebrated.”

“Here is what I pledge to do. We need help. Today. And we’ll need help tomorrow. I want to finish empty every day, with everything I’ve got, I’m going to pour into the people in Saline County. I am the people of Saline County. I want to get to know you.”

Brumley said he would be available after he spoke to talk to attendees. “If you have any questions on, ‘who is Matt Brumley and why would I vote for someone for County Judge who has never served a day, I will be happy to answer those questions.'”

What is a major challenge of the office you seek and how would you address it?

“Our greatest resource is people. Those people deserve sound infrastructure.” In Brumley’s Director job. He began a project where no Arkansans would be greater than 30 minutes away from a vascular neurologist. That took infrastructure. “Sounds impossible. Today, there are 55 hospitals in this program. But without broadband internet, we’re unable to do the telemedicine things that we are capable of. We’re unable to give the education that we need. Infrastructure has changed. Regarding roads, I can tell you where 30% of the potholes are today.”

“My pledge is this: to make our infrastructure as strong as it can possibly be, for the good of the people, while being fiscally responsible with the hope of growing, but also growing responsibly.”

What separates you from your primary opponent?

“I am going to be candid. I didn’t do a lot of research on my opponent. I have so many things I need to pay attention to. I will say, off the cuff. I am not a flash in the pan. I am going to die in Saline County, hopefully, no time soon. If I do not win this election, I am going to serve my tail off. For the last thirty years, mostly 17 of those, since my twin boys were born, I’ve served my tail off. I want them first, to be able to look at me and say, ‘that’s good’. I think that my work today, and your work today are going to have a lasting effect on generations.”

Rick Long, Candidate for Saline County Judge

Rick Long is a lifelong resident of Saline County and has been married for 43 years, with three grown children. He has been a registered nurse for 30 years and was the Director of Nursing at Birch Tree Communities for 12 years. Birch Tree is a community mental health center. Long said that in the directorship position, he managed all of the nurses in 14 branches.

Long worked at Saline Memorial as Manager of the 6th Floor where he was over 85 employees and was responsible for the budget and staying within the budget.

“My passion has always been people. I am not a politician.”

Around Thanksgiving, people began asking Long to run for the position of Saline County Judge. “The requests kept coming and I started praying about it for two and a half months.”

“God laid it on my heart to do this. I don’t know if God wants me to be County Judge or if he wants me to stand up in front of people like you and profess my faith. Either way, I am a winner.”

Saline County Republican Candidates Addressed HSV Residents Rick Long Candidate for County Judge
Rick Long, Candidate for Saline County Judge

Long said he takes the responsibility of the County Judge very seriously. He has been fiscally responsible with the resources of others for the past 20 odd years.

“I’ve been in this race for two months. I have not once solicited a campaign donation. I think that is important. I think it is really important. That tells you how serious I am about running for this position. I know I am being outspent tremendously. But I don’t think I am going to be outworked. It is easy to spend other people’s money. It is not quite so easy to spend your own.”

“I’ve always been fiscally responsible.”

Long said he does not have a mortgage, or car payment and does not owe money to anyone.

“If I get voted in as County Judge, I am not going to owe anybody except the people of Saline County and that is why I am running. I am tired of electing people into office to ignore me and ignore you… I am running for the people of Saline County. Period.”

What is a major challenge of the office you seek and how would you address it?

County roads and trash are the major challenges. Long said he would be out in the County to check on things instead of just sitting in his office in Benton. He also said, if elected, he wants to create an open-door policy and will not ignore complaints or ideas from his constituents.

What separates you from your primary opponent?

Long said that experience separates him from his opponent. He is familiar with all of the different areas in Saline County and also knows a lot of the people that live there.

“As far as experience goes, I am not here to knock anybody.”

“Twenty years of being an administrator for a state-wide organization, for a place like Saline Memorial where I was responsible for psychiatric patients, Alzheimer patients, those have been my passions. I have been responsible for budgets and working within those budgets. No offense to Matt, but I think there is a difference between going out and soliciting money for different things and living with what you’ve got and making the best that you can do with what you’ve got. I think that is what separates us.”

Rodney Wright, Incumbent Candidate for Saline County Sherrif

Wright said he has served as Saline County Sherrif for seven and a half years. He was born and raised in the county

He said in 2014 he walked into a ‘neglected’ office. “In the past seven and a half years, I’ve done a really good job of rebranding that department. We had to rebrand it.” Wright said they had to rebuild the trust with everyone they serve including the agencies and community. Wright said they have done an excellent job of rebuilding trust.

“I work with some amazing people.”

Wright said Saline County is huge and “as many people as you think you know, there are ten times as many that you don’t know…”

Wright explained that after traveling the 755 square miles of Saline County for seven and a half years, this is a big job. “It is a huge responsibility and cannot be taken lightly.”

Wright served the City of Benton for almost 20 years, working alongside the Sheriff’s office. He thought he knew what it would take to be Sheriff. “Wrong. I had no clue. I knew the things that needed to be fixed. We worked on them and got them fixed.”

Wright said improvements made in the past seven and a half years include adding more patrol deputies and school resource officers, and pay raises for the deputies. These improvements were made because Saline County has a good Quorum Court. He also worked with the County Judge to achieve these improvements.

Saline County Republican Candidates Addressed HSV Residents – 2022 Rick Long Candidate for County Judge
Rodney Wright, Incumbent Candidate for Saline County Sherrif

“I am very proud to be your Sheriff and I look forward to hopefully still being your Sheriff after May 24. It’s been an amazing experience – the best experience of my life! I will continue doing a great job and hopefully, have your support.”

What is a major challenge of the office you seek and how would you address it?

“Recruitment and retention are my biggest challenges…I have 46 positions in my jail and 18 openings.” They advertise daily in different venues and cannot get people to apply. Wright said all of the area law enforcement agencies are “fishing out of the same pond,” for employees.

What separates you from your primary opponent?

Wright said he only knew a little about his opponent. “I have 28 years of law enforcement experience and have been your Sheriff for seven and a half years. We’ve come a long way in the last seven and a half years.”

“Experience would be the separation between myself and my opponent.”

Thomas Burchfield, Candidate for Saline County Treasurer

Burchfield has served as the Manager of Financial Education at the State Treasurer’s Office for the past three years. Prior to that, he was the Deputy Director of Arkansas 529 Caller Savings Plan and the Able Plan, which is a savings plan for those with disabilities.

As the Manager of Financial Education, he travels the state, teaching folks how to budget, save and invest money. “I love serving you at the Treasurer’s Office.”

“I want to bring my experience to the County Courthouse.” He would like to teach financial initiatives across Saline County. “I don’t want to just do the job day-to-day and go home.” He wants to get out of the Courthouse and serve the constituents.

“My life has been about serving. I have served you in the County Coroner’s Office and the Clerk’s Office…I look young, but I am not. I have a lot of experience.”

“I love to serve and you need an experienced Christian conservative in the County Treasurer’s Office. It is not one of those really exciting offices, but it is very important.”

Saline County Republican Candidates Addressed HSV Residents Thomas Burchfield Candidate for Saline County Treasurer
Thomas Burchfield, Candidate for Saline County Treasurer

“I’ve been in politics all my life. Prior to working at the Treasurer’s Office, I was a mortician for ten years.”

“I helped my friend, Richard Milligan up at the capitol and am happy to have his endorsement. He has made millions for the state. Under his leadership and under my help and other staff members, with Arkansas 529, we raised that to over $1 Billion in assets. In the Able Plan, which is very small, we’ve raised that total to over $3 Million in assets.”

“I am fiscally conservative. I announced I would never take a pay raise if I am elected as your County Treasurer. I feel like they make quite a bit of money and I feel like you are taxed enough. That makes me a little bit different than my opponents.”

“I know how to take care of a budget.” Burchfield is the breadwinner of his family.

“Another thing about my race is my faith.” Burchfield married a Catholic but was raised Pentecostal and converted. “My faith guides me in everything I do…I appreciate your vote on May 24.”

What is a major challenge of the office you seek and how would you address it?

“The major challenge for me is to get out and to serve you more. I am not just going to sit and do the day-to-day operations and make my staff do the work. I’ve been a leader in several organizations and I know from top to down, it is all a team effort. We need good leadership in that. Getting out in the county and serving you more is going to be my main objective.”

What separates you from your primary opponents?

Burchfield said that what separates him is that he is a fiscal conservative. “I am not here to benefit myself. That is why I made the pledge to never take a pay increase and at the same time, it is the experience too. I’ve served you in the County Coroner’s Office and the Circuit Clerk’s Office and I’ve been all across the state for the past 20 years, electing good Christian conservative Republicans.”

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