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Will deputies keep their jobs? Job security of deputies becomes top issue in Miller County Sheriff runoff election

Jun 17, 2022

As Wayne Easley and Stephen D. Ward battle it out in the runoff election for Miller County Sheriff, voters seem increasingly concerned about the job security of current deputies. 

Rumors have been flying across social media, and both candidates have had to answer questions about this topic. And dozens of Miller County residents are discussing it publicly every day.

Pastor Anthony Ware hosted Wayne Easley at the Church of the Living God #4 for a question and answer session on Thursday, June 16, at 6 pm. Stephen Ward sent a statement that Pastor Ware read but did not attend. 

The pastor wanted the public to know both men were invited and had kind words for the two candidates in the Sheriff's race. But he said he wished both had attended the gathering because he is still an undecided voter.

Stephen Ward on deputies' jobs

Today, Stephen D Ward addressed the issue of deputies in no uncertain terms. 

Ward said: "I've heard several people say they've been told recently that if I'm elected, I will get rid of many of our deputies. Let me be clear; that is not true."

He added, "It is my hope that deputies remain with Miller County, join me to work together, and make our county the best."

Plain talk from Wayne Easley

On Thursday, at the Church of the Living God forum in Texarkana, Arkansas, Wayne Easley said that law enforcement was in a crisis and that he would not be "wiping everyone out." 

"There are so many good guys. Everybody's got their job," he added. "Ninety-nine percent of people will be employed," he said. 

Easley said you cannot quickly go out and hire new people even if you wanted to. But he said Miller County deputies are special. "The deputies in Miller County work there because they love their jobs. They want to be there," Easley said. "They want to protect the citizens of Miller County. That's a fact."

He said he knows how much Miller County deputies care about the citizens because they have many choices for higher-paying jobs in other local police-related jobs - but they choose to stay in Miller County.

Easley also said that a citizen might be surprised to see him answer routine calls due to the shortage of deputies. "Don't be surprised if you see me answering a call," he said, as the audience laughed. "I'm Wayne. How can I help you today?"

Would Easley fire Stephen Ward?

Near the end of the forum, a citizen asked Wayne Easley if Stephen Ward would be among the 99% to keep their job if he was elected.

Easley answered: "Based on this campaign, I don't foresee him staying employed if I am elected. You cannot have someone in your organization who is against you."

However, Easley said Ward would have a fair chance to keep his job. "He has six months from the election if he starts being a good deputy," he added.

Easley said he would rely on the opinion of the deputies that work with Stephen Ward. If those people believe he is valuable, Easley said Stephen Ward would have a job.

Ward would start a Sheriff's Office podcast

Stephen Ward has promised transparency and said he would start a monthly podcast if elected.

He said: "I want you, our citizens, to have ownership of the Sheriff's Office. I want you to be kept informed, updated, and aware of the goings-on in Miller County. To help achieve that objective, I plan on creating a podcast from the office of the Sheriff."

According to Ward, the monthly podcast will cover topics such as public service, criminal activity, upcoming events, community activities, and feature special guests. Ward said he would pay any costs associated with the podcast.

He said: "I firmly believe communication is key, and I want you to be better informed."

Coming up

It will be a long weekend for both Wayne Easley and Stephen Ward. Both men will have to find a way to break through the rumors being spread across social media at a time when the public is focusing on Juneteenth and Father's day - both on June 19.

However, the electioneering is still moving forward at a fast and furious pace for both candidates. With dueling endorsements and a large group of supporters on both sides, either candidate could win.

At the end of the day, turnout on election day will determine whether Stephen Ward or Wayne Easley will be the new Sheriff of Miller County.

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