LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Two people running to be the next prosecutor for Pulaski and Perry counties have very different backgrounds but are on a mission for your vote.
Will Jones and Alicia Walton want to lead Arkansas’ largest prosecuting attorney’s office in the state’s Sixth Judicial District. The race has been described by some as one becoming the most heated in Arkansas.
In a community where violent crime usually steals headlines, Jones prosecuted his first homicide nearly two decades ago.
“There’s a lot of pain in this community, a lot of families that are hurting. I think we just need someone with the experience that knows how to handle that, that’s been doing this for a long time,” Jones said.
Walton, who has not been a prosecutor, said her nine years of experience as a public defender has prepared her for the job.
“You look to see what that person has been doing within the community, what programs have you put in place, how have you attempted to address the issues that are plaguing the criminal justice system,” Walton said.
Records show some recent Little Rock shootings involved people out on bond, an issue Walton said comes down to training prosecutors.
“Don’t be afraid to say, “Your honor, this bond needs to be a $500,000 bond. Your honor, we’re asking for a million dollars.” Have your facts,” Walton said.
Jones said it starts with being clear and transparent.
“Communications with all sides to understand why we’re recommending this bond, with this particular case, and be clear about it. Why we think this bond may be higher than normal or why we’re allowing this to be lower,” Jones said.
When it comes to prosecuting bad cops, both candidates believe no one is above the law.
“We have to hold people accountable. Especially those that are here to protect and serve. I had a case years ago where I prosecuted an officer for rape,” Jones said.
Walton’s message is similar.
“If that investigation determines that you committed a crime and it points only to you, then the law requires that you be charged,” Walton said.
Political Action Committees (PAC) are pouring thousands of dollars into the election, financial records show.
The most recent PAC is Fair Courts America. State filings show the group formed on May 17th so it’s unclear how much money the PAC has or who is financially supporting them. Recent mailers show the committee is supporting Jones for prosecutor, who has raised a total of $216,270.00, according to recent Secretary of State filings.
Another PAC, Arkansas Justice and Public Safety, has poured thousands into the race. State election filings show a Hungarian billionaire donated $321,000 to the committee and has spent $268,759.66 as of Thursday. The group has sent flyers backing Walton, who has raised $23,889.98, according to the Secretary of State.
Jones said he wants people to block out the PAC messages.
“What I want is the people to block that out and just focus on our campaign message. We’re here to unify the community, protect the victims of crime and make Pulaski and Perry counties a safer place for all of us,” Jones said.
Walton said she was surprised to see the committees get involved.
“I had no idea this was going on. There’s nothing I can say about it. I can’t tell them to stop, I can’t tell them to change their messaging,” Walton said.