Richard L. Watts, a forest territory manager for Crop Production Services – Timberland Division and a Democratic candidate for Desha County Judge, said if elected he will work diligently to move the county forward while sustaining its values and community spirit.
“I have spent my entire life working in rural America, and I am concerned with the health and well-being of the residents of rural America, especially Desha County,” Watts said in his campaign announcement. “We must do something to stop the exodus of jobs and young families from our communities. As judge, I promise to work hard for the good of Desha County by working with community leaders, and elected local, state and national officials. Too many of our young people are having to leave the county and state to find jobs. I will work diligently towards creating opportunities that will retain our young people and make Desha County a place where they will want to raise their families.”
Watts, a resident of the Pea Ridge community in Desha County, has a B.S. degree in forestry from Louisiana State University. He is a registered forester in Mississippi, a nationally certified forester through the Society of American Foresters and a certified commercial pesticide applicator in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Watts also has 23 years experience working for International Paper’s woodlands division at several managerial levels.
“In my last 17 years at International Paper, I was heavily involved in the development and implementation of regional land management programs,” Watts said. “I was involved in determining the objectives and goals for each program and developing the long-term and annual budgets for implementing these programs. For the past ten years I have been in forestry sales with Crop Production Services-Timberland Division, my territory is the entire state of Arkansas.”
Watts is married to Brenda Preddy Watts, a lifelong Desha County resident and owner of K&P Flying Service. They have four adult children and attend the First United Methodist Church in Dumas.
“My experience gained in the corporate business world and as a small business owner with my wife, Brenda, will be an asset as County Judge,” Watts said. “I know what it is like to develop and work within budgets. I know how to work with people to get things done. In my travels around the state with my job, I see the challenges that face every rural community in Arkansas. Desha County is not alone in its struggles, and we must work with the surrounding counties to address these challenges.”
While living in Natchez, Miss., Watts coached summer league baseball for eight years and served two years as vice president of the athletic booster club for the high school that his son attended. He is a member of the Society of American Foresters, Arkansas Forestry Association, and American Forestry Association. His wife served on the Delta School District School Board and is currently serving on the Dumas Airport Commission. She is the president of the Arkansas Agricultural Aviation Association and is the Arkansas’ Director for National Agricultural Aviation Association.
“Ten years ago, when I moved to Desha County from Mississippi, the community embraced and accepted me as one of their own, which is rare in today’s society.” Watts said. “I have a deep appreciation for this community and it values. I enter this race in hopes that I can make a difference in moving Desha County forward in the future while sustaining the values and community spirit that I have experienced here.”
Current Desha County Judge Mark McElroy is not seeking reelection. He is a candidate for District 11 State Representative.