Washington Co. JP steps down, citing CARES Act debate as tipping point

KNWA

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Washington County Justice of the Peace resigned Monday, citing frustration over the debate regarding CARES Act funds as the tipping point.

Judith Yanez (D) served District 4. After deciding not to run last election, she reclaimed her seat after 2020 winner Kenny Arredondo chose not to serve.

Yanez said some other JPs have indicated they don’t have any desire to listen to community needs, specifically those brought up by marginalized residents, and the CARES Act debate highlights that. Some want the $4.5 million to go toward immediate needs like rent or small business grants, while others want the money to go back into the general fund or be stored away for future emergencies.

Because of the court’s makeup, Yanez said healthy debate is impossible, so addressing community needs is much harder. She said minority constituents depend on her to deliver, so spending time fighting a losing battle felt like time poorly spent. She said doing other community work would have a bigger impact.

“[The county government] needs to work for that respect and honor to be earned in that space,” Yanez said. “Me being there is giving them easy access to have trust and respect from a community they really don’t deserve.”

Yanez said it’s likely Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) will fill that seat after the Quorum Court declares it open, which was confirmed by other county justices.

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