First-time Columbia County officials fighting to stave off proposed $10,000 pay cut

A meeting is set for Tuesday to further discuss the salary issue
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 10:51 PM CST
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COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ark. (KSLA) — The ballots are counted and history made in Columbia County, Ark. But some are questioning whether the politics have ended.

“Many people trusted my words and I’m going to make sure my words come true,” Sheriff-elect Leroy Martin said.

For 26 years, he has worked for the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department, starting out as a jailer and now as an investigator. Beginning next year, Martin will take the lead in the department. This past election, voters voted in history by selecting Martin as the first African-American sheriff for Columbia County.

“It was a great campaign. What we really want to do is stress that we will be fair for everyone, have safe communities and be a sheriff for everyone. That is what one of my campaign slogans was,” Martin said.

He told KSLA News 12 that when his term as sheriff ends, he hopes Columbia County residents will remember him not as the county’s first African-American sheriff but as a sheriff who worked hard for the county.

“It really is overwhelming to me just seeing the spark in people’s eyes, seeing the change. Like I say, I might have been the first and I’m not saying it may be the last.”

Martin defeated his opponent, Denny Foster, by a 2-to-1 margin. Foster is the present county judge. Martin won’t take office until January, but he and other first-time elected county officers are fighting for pay.

Since the election, Foster and some county finance members have discussed cutting first-time elected officials’ yearly salaries by $10,000.

“Everybody wants to get paid with what they feel like they are worth,” Martin said. “And I mean since I’ve been here that long, that’s why I’m questioning why now, what is the reason behind it.”

KSLA contacted Foster and he refused to comment.

A meeting is set for Tuesday, Nov. 22 to further discuss the salary issue.