Montrose Mayor Larry Coulter has announced his candidacy for Ashley County Judge. Coulter, a Democrat and self-described progressive, believes today’s county judges must be both business savvy and have a good understanding of laws that apply to counties.

“There is more to being county judge than roads, garbage and dogs,” Coulter said. “Although it is important to handle these sort of problems, and I will, today’s county judges need a working knowledge of running a small business, knowing what grants, what monies that are available to apply for to help the county. It is very important to know how to administer the money after it is received. Today’s county judge must be aware and obey the laws of operating a landfill. It is a major concern for the health and safety of all our citizens.”

If elected, Coulter said one of his top priorities will be to address the county’s unemployment rate by creating a micro business center.

“Ashley County is a wonderful place to live and work. I have lots of friends and family here. But, the average unemployment for Ashley County runs over 10 percent every month,” Coulter said. “We must begin to work on this problem. One of the best ways I know is to create a small micro business center for Ashley County. This would be one of my top priorities if elected Ashley County Judge.”

As mayor of the small Ashley County town of Montrose, Coulter has taken advantage of more than $2 million in grants and economic aid for a walking fitness trail, a training room for the fire department, a new fire truck, fire equipment, funding for a new police officer, a weather siren, a drug dog, a library, a road project, senior citizen’s center, a sidewalk from the post office to city hall, and the installation of a city-owned wireless Internet network for the community.

Coulter is a member of the Arkansas Municipal League’s Second-Class City Advisory Committee, the Arkansas South Tourism Board, the Southeast Arkansas Development District, the Mainline Mayors Association, the Ashley County Home Town Health Council, the Southeast Arkansas Regional Literacy Council, (ex-officio) Southeast Cornerstone Coalition and the Ashley County Extension Council, and the Hamburg Rotary Club.

He is a graduate of Delta Regional Authority’s Leadership Institute and the first Cornerstone Leadership Institute.

Through his efforts, Coulter and the City of Montrose won several community awards including the 2007 Ashley County tourism award and the Southeast Arkansas Cornerstone Coalition’s first annual Regionalism Award. Coulter also won the Arkansas South Tourism Award in 2010 for promoting tourism in South Arkansas.

He is the co-founder of Divine Truth Christian Ministries in Montrose. He has two sons and four grandchildren.

Current county judge Emory Austin has announced that he will not seek reelection.