https://www.theepochtimes.com/career-prosecutor-defeats-george-soros-backed-candidate-in-arkansas-prosecuting-attorney-race_4494089.html

In the first contested race in decades to be the top prosecutor of Arkansas’ largest judicial district, career prosecutor Will Jones prevailed against George Soros-backed progressive opponent Alicia Walton.

Jones on May 24 received 30,696 votes, or 53 percent of votes cast, compared to Walton’s 26,695 votes in the nonpartisan race, according to the unofficial results published by the Arkansas secretary of state.

Jones told The Epoch Times that he plans to boost office efficiency to tackle case backlogs caused by court shutdowns during the pandemic. He also wants to create a forensic unit to help prosecutors build stronger cases through electronic evidence.

He began his prosecutor career at the 6th Judicial District—Arkansas’ largest judicial district, which is home to the state capital Little Rock—right after he graduated from law school in 2001. He now works as the chief deputy prosecutor in the 11th West Judicial District of Arkansas.

Jones raised $267,270 during his campaign, 80 percent of which came from in-state donors, according to financial disclosures published by the Arkansas secretary of state.

Will Jones. (Courtesy of Will Jones)

“My victory came from my connection and relationship with our local community. The local community rallied around us, and that’s what helped carry us to victory,” Jones said.

In contrast, Walton, a public defender who ran on a progressive platform, raised only $23,890 during her campaign.

A month before the election, billionaire George Soros poured $321,000 into a newly formed PAC called Arkansas Justice and Public Safety. Nearly $268,800 was spent from that PAC in support of Walton, according to financial disclosures published by the secretary of state.

Soros has a record of supporting progressive prosecutor candidates across the country.

The out-of-state money for Walton got Jones nervous, he admitted. It also turned off a group of locals, including Little Rock resident Frederick Gentry. Gentry has been involved in local politics for years.

“It is important that you raise money from within the state versus from outside of the state. I think that says a lot about one’s campaign and their ability to reach out to people in the communities,” Gentry said.

Walton told The Epoch Times that Soros did not communicate directly with her campaign. She said the billionaire’s money helped first-time minority candidates like her to level the playing field.

“My campaign went up against the establishment in Arkansas, including the well-known Democrats, a subset of the Republican party, and the entire prosecutors’ office. They made sure that my opponent was well-funded. For me, I only had two full-time volunteers,” Walton told The Epoch Times.

Epoch Times Photo
Alicia Walton. (Courtesy of Alicia Walton)

Walton started her legal career at the Arkansas Center for Legal Services, a nonprofit providing free legal services to low-income Arkansas.

She then opened her own private criminal defense practice before joining the Pulaski County Public Defender Office in Arkansas, where she helped create two specialty courts for veterans and people with mental health problems.

Walton told The Epoch Times that she plans to run for the same post again in four years. Her top priorities as a candidate will remain about the same, including dealing with mass incarceration, taking care of victims, and cutting recidivism through rehabilitation services, she said.

In contrast, Jones said mass incarceration is not the real problem of the 6th Judicial District, which comprises two counties, Pulaski and Perry.

The incarceration rate for the district is about 30 percent, which means 70 percent of the people that came into the system did not end up in jail or prison, he said.

Among the 30 percent, most people went behind bars after committing a violent crime, committing a new offense on parole, or repeatedly committing a crime—usually cases where prosecutors are bound by law to recommend incarceration, Jones said.

“It seems that the progressive policies are focused more on offenders than the victims and they upend the balance in our judicial system.

“I think our system needs balance, which is prosecution on one side focused on victims while being fair to the defendants, and defense attorneys on the other side looking out for the offenders,” Jones said.

Two political action committees financed by Arkansas businessmen and real estate professionals, Safer Cities Arkansas and Fair Courts America, also made a total of $272,319 independent expenditure in support of Jones, according to financial disclosures published by the Arkansas secretary of state.

Last May, the longtime incumbent prosecuting attorney of the 6th Judicial District, Larry Jegley, decided to retire at the end of his eighth term. Jegley never had an opponent in his previous reelection bids over the past two decades.

Cara Ding

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Cara is a Chicago-based Epoch Times reporter. She can be reached at cara.ding@epochtimes.com.

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