Jefferson County Judge Gerald Robinson said Jan. 2 that tough decisions will have to be made in the coming months about county business.
“We’ve lost people and the tax base has declined and we can’t continue to operate like we have been and kick the can down the road,” he said after a swearing-in ceremony held in Circuit Judge Rob Wyatt Jr.’s courtroom at the County Courthouse.
Robinson, who had announced he would be retiring as Jefferson County sheriff early last year, defeated former County Judge Dutch King in the May 2018 Democratic Primary and faced no Republican opposition in the November General Election.
He replaces Booker Clemons, who was appointed to the position in March after Henry “Hank” Wilkins IV resigned amid allegations were made public that he took money from a lobbyist while still a member of the Arkansas General Assembly.
Wilkins subsequently pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge and is due to be sentenced on Jan. 30.
Before administering the oath of office, Wyatt said this was the seventh time he had sworn Robinson in — the first six were as Jefferson County sheriff.
“We first met in 2006 when I was running for Circuit Judge and he was running for sheriff,” Wyatt said. “Of course, I had Lincoln County, too, but we would see each other at events and became friends.”
Until this year, county elected officials served two-year terms, but that changed to four-year terms following the 2016 election and became effective this year.
In a courtroom that was filled with other elected officials, including most members of the Quorum Court, two other circuit judges, Alex Guynn and Earnest E. Brown Jr., family members and friends of Robinson, he said that he was beginning a journey that he hadn’t planned on doing.
“Obedience is the key and serving the God I serve and we all serve, I envision one Jefferson County,” Robinson said.
He went on to tell the other elected officials that “it’s going to take all of us working together. We might not always agree, but we’re going to agree to disagree.”
“I look forward to working with each of you and I will never ask other elected officials to do anything that I would not do,” Robinson said. “I’ve got a lot of friends in this room and I don’t want to let you down. I look in the mirror and say I don’t want to let Jefferson County down. I ask that you be patient as we make this transition.”