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Grant County Sheriff Resigns, But May Be Back in Office
By Marci Manley, Reporter
The Yellowjacket drive in is where like Tonia Morgan pick up news about town.
"I don't think it's had an effect on the community really cause Ray's reputation precedes him," she said.
For the past two years, talk of Sheriff Ray Vance's criminal conviction has nearly dominated local politics.
"I really think it's been talked out because people who know him, like I say, mistakes happen and people learn from them," Morgan said.
And all that talk doesn't appear to have left a negative impression with many in the community.
may not have hurt his rep
"I think he's done a good job and that was in his past," said Shirley Denis when we asked if his conviction had shaken her confidence in the sheriff.
Vance pleaded no contest to misrepresenting his residency on documents to obtain a lifetime hunting license from Kansas. He agreed to pay thousands in restitution, just days before the election in 2010.
"The question is is he in violation of the Arkansas Constitution," Steve Gartman said.
Gartman ran against Vance in 2010 and lost. He doesn't think Vance's handling of the job is the issue at hand.
"Are we going to make our elected officials abide by same rules and laws as everybody else? It's not about what kind of job he's done. He's done a great job," Gartman said.
The state filed suit to remove Vance from office in 2013, after his opponent in 2012 brought it to light. That suit is ongoing with a hearing scheduled on Monday. In the meantime, Vance qualified to have those convictions expunged, which would make him eligible to hold public office again.
"He's going to go on a four month vacation be re-elected in January and come right back in," Gartman said. "It's not about Ray anymore it's about judicial system here. Our system allowed this to be drug out where he did get it expunged. We need an answer. Either he's eligible or ineligible. We need an answer instead of kicking the can down the road."
Vance is currently the only candidate on the ballot for sheriff in November's general election. And plenty of people seem willing to put him back in office.
"I think so I think the people who know him would vote for him because he has done such a great job," said Morgan.
Vance has not returned multiple phone calls for comment regarding his resignation or whether he intends to take office if elected in November.
According to the special prosecutor in the case, Vance's resignation would resolve the issue at hand with the state, essentially making the suit "moot".