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Arkansas officials have voice through NACo

By Debbie Wise, AAC Board President, Randolph County Circuit Clerk

I hope all our newly elected officials are settling well into their roles, and they are finding a supportive network within their respective associations and within the Association of Arkansas Counties (AAC). A supportive network is vital for us to do what we do at the county level.

Likewise, a supportive network is important at other levels of government. This is one reason the AAC is a member of the National Association of Counties (NACo) — and why the AAC pays the annual dues for each of our 75 counties to be members.

I often refer to myself as a “NACo Nerd” because I have been so impressed with the organization, the people I’ve met, and the things I’ve learned.

I am first and foremost the Randolph County circuit clerk. However, I wear other hats, as well. I’ve taken on leadership roles within the Circuit Clerks Association, within the AAC, and within NACo. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of teamwork at each of those levels. Those who work together accomplish the most.

The AAC’s motto is, “75 Counties. One Voice.” NACo’s motto could just as easily be, “50 states. One Voice.”

While the AAC looks after county interests in the Arkansas General Assembly, NACo looks after county interests in the U.S. Congress. Many county officials and employees who recognize the impact we can have while speaking with one voice have embraced leadership roles within NACo.

Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison and I are NACo board members. Jefferson County Justice of the Peace Ted Harden, Sebastian County Judge David Hudson, Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde, Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs, Craighead County Clerk Kade Holliday, Pulaski County Justice of the Peace Paul Elliott, Crittenden County Collector Ellen Foote, and Crittenden County Chief Computer Operator Tawanna Brown all serve on NACo committees. AAC Executive Director Chris Villines is president of the National Council of County Association Executives (NCCAE), an arm of NACo.

Have you noticed the seal on the cover of County Lines? For the last three years, AAC’s communications staff has won awards of excellence for the magazine and other forms of media from the National Association of County Information Officers (NACIO), another arm of NACo.

We are making our voices heard at the national level. We are forging relationships with county officials in other states, discussing our mutual challenges, exploring new ideas and solutions, and affecting the state of county government at more than just the local level.

When we attend NACo meetings regularly we know we are bringing valuable information back to our communities, and we know we are having an impact. Only through NACo have I been able to sit down one on one with Arkansas’ Congressional delegation to discuss the issues our counties face and to brainstorm possible solutions.

NACo is a valuable tool to have in our arsenal. I am grateful for the experiences and opportunities it has afforded me. The encouragement and advice I receive from my colleagues in other states is priceless. I urge you, too, to embrace NACo.

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