Dennis Gilstrap of Van Buren has announced his candidacy for the office of Crawford County judge in the Republican primary in March.
Gilstrap currently is the emergency manager and floodplain manager for Crawford County and the president of the Arkansas Emergency Management Association.
He has worked with the previous and current county judges and mayors, members of Crawford County’s Emergency Responders, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and Office of Domestic Preparedness and Homeland Security to obtain more than $2 million in disaster response equipment.
"As county judge, I plan to continue to work with local, state and federal partners to pursue grants and other funding to lessen the impact on the already stressed budget," he said.
Gilstrap has been instrumental in acquiring grants for the South 40th Street drainage project, Richmond Road bridge, Flat Rock Creek bridge on Pointer Trail East in Van Buren, Pirate’s Way bridge in Cedarville and Pevehouse Bridge presently under construction.
As county judge he said he plans to update the mitigation plan to improve drainage and bridges throughout the county.
Gilstrap worked with the county judge to acquire the Arkansas National Guard building through the governor’s office when the building was vacated by the guard unit. The building is used as the Crawford County Emergency Operations Center, a training center for emergency responders, early voting and by three precincts on election days.
"As county judge, I plan to continue to remodel and update the building to accommodate the needs of the area," Gilstrap said.
He said he has a desire to continue to work with the state senators, state representatives and the mayors of Crawford County to acquire needed infrastructure, revitalize main streets and bring economic development to all nine of our incorporated cities and towns and throughout Crawford County.
"I believe Crawford County’s access to the Arkansas River, two interstate highways, two railroads and its citizen workforce are the keys to economic growth not only in Crawford County but also throughout the region," he said.
Gilstrap, a lifelong resident of Crawford County, and his wife of 44 years, Peggy, have raised two children. Their daughter Carla is a registered nurse and their son Shawn is a firefighter with the Van Buren Fire Department. They have six grandchildren andare members of the First Baptist Church of Van Buren where Dennis serves as an usher and on the church security team.
Gilstrap, 63, graduated from Van Buren High School in 1970. After graduation, he served in the Arkansas National Guard for six years. In 1975, he began working for the Van Buren Fire Department where he rose through the ranks, becoming fire chief and retiring after 25 years of service.
While employed as a firefighter, he completed numerous management courses at Westark Community College (now University of Arkansas - Fort Smith), Garland County Community College, Southwest Technical Institute and the Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, Md.
Since January of 2001, he has served as the Crawford County Department of Emergency Management director. During his tenure, he has received recognition and certification as an Arkansas certified emergency manager, SAR Tech II with the National Association for Search and Rescue, vompleted dtreet vhemistry I and II, completed the radiological/nuclear course from Bechtel, Nev., completed the counter terrorism operations support and weapons of mass destruction incident command course (COBRA) conducted by the Office of Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Ala., and the incident response to terrorist bombings conducted at the Energetic Material Research and Testing Center at Socorro, N.M.
His resume reflects numerous commendations,including the 2005 Northwest Arkansas emergency manager of the year, the 2005 Arkansas emergency manager of the tear and the 2008 Arkansas floodplain manager of the year.
As county judge, Gilstrap said he plans to remain informed and knowledgeable of the most current technology available and maintain his current certifications.
He is a member of the Arkansas Emergency Management Association and the Arkansas Floodplain Association. A graduate of Leadership Crawford County Class of 2006, he serves on the Crawford County 911 Advisory Board, chairperson for the Crawford County Local Emergency Planning Committee and was appointed by the governor to the Crawford County Criminal Detention Facilities Review Committee.
Gilstrap said he looks forward to working with the quorum court to address the issues that come before it. He said he will not support any tax increase without the vote and approval of the citizens. He said he plans to honor commitments made to the voters when they have been or will be asked to support an issue. He said he will publicly oppose an issue such as the Clean Line Energy project that he feels is not in the best interest of the citizens or property owners in Crawford County.
Mr. Gilstrap states, "My vision as Crawford County judge includes: A strong work ethic with an ongoing commitment of dedication in the continued development of cooperation between all citizens and elected officials, thus providing Crawford County with the best quality of life possible. I will provide citizens with factual and up-to-date information regarding issues concerning Crawford County to the best of my ability. I will continue to improve county roads throughout the entire county. I promise to be a working, visible and approachable county judge with an open door policy. I ask for your support during this campaign and throughout the following years as we address the issues that come before the county. Thank you for your support."