Major victory for the tax collector

The initial buzz around Jefferson County ahead of Tuesday’s election night was that Democratic incumbent Tony Washington would most likely retain his seat as Jefferson County tax collector.

But the wide margin by which Washington won was still surprising to some, as Washington had what was billed as a 4,212-to-1,510-vote victory over challenger Jimmy Lee Fisher Sr., who is a sitting justice of the peace. .

Election results will be officially certified over the next seven to ten days.

Washington, however, said he felt he deserved victory, based on his experience and his conduct in office.

Before becoming county tax collector, Washington served eight years under Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel as a senior public affairs liaison from 2007 to 2015.

Yet there he stood, having to hold off what was seen as a formidable challenger at the polls on Tuesday.

The groundwork laid for much of Washington’s campaign centered on the mantra: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, which he said resonated with his county voters. of Jefferson. Ultimately, Washington wondered why it even had a Democratic opponent in Fisher.

“My predecessor also did a great job in that position, so I had big shoes to fill.” Washington said. “But everyone I knew asked me why I even had an adversary because they thought I was doing an amazing job as a municipal tax collector. I tried to make this process as accessible and as easy as possible. as possible. So people responded on Tuesday night.”

Fisher didn’t go into detail about why he thought he should run against Washington, except to say he had high expectations of himself and didn’t want to wallow in life.

While there was no early indication that Washington won so easily, according to polling numbers, Jefferson County Election Commission Chairman Mike Adam kept it pretty straightforward.

“Nothing showed us that would happen,” Adam said, “but incumbents usually have an advantage going into the election. And to be honest, Washington ran a much better campaign. His name was all over the place.”

Washington’s strong campaign was also fueled by its campaign promise to help students at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Southeast Arkansas College graduate with a program that will help them gain work experience. after graduation.

“I want this office to be used as a springboard for other students who need opportunities.” Washington said. “And we want to keep our best and our brightest here at Pine Bluff to continue what we do for the community.”

Washington announced earlier in the year a process that speeds county tax filing — a “one-stop shop” with the www.jeffcotax.org website it introduced.

“When I don’t have a vision of what this office should be like, I’ll move on and do something else.” Washington said. “But as long as I have the opportunity to serve the people of Jefferson County, I will continue to do what I do.”

Esther L. Steinbach