Evolution of the Political Climate in Craighead County, Arkansas

The political atmosphere in Jonesboro, AR is moderately conservative, while Craighead County, AR is very conservative. In the last presidential election, 31.0% of people in Craighead County voted for Democrats, 66.4% voted for the Republican Party, and the remaining 2.7% voted for the Independents. Craighead County is part of the Jonesboro-Paragould Combined Statistical Area and was initially claimed by France on April 9, 1682 by René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. The Treaty of Fontainebleau (176) was signed between France and Spain and ownership of the Louisiana territory west of the Mississippi River was transferred to the Spanish crown as a result of the Seven Years' War.

This included Craighead County, which became a Spanish possession. In 1803, the land that would become Craighead County became the possession of the United States. It stayed in the Louisiana Territory until the state of Louisiana was admitted to the Union. At that time, the territory that includes present-day Arkansas was attached to the Territory of Missouri.

In 1813, it was included in a new political subdivision known as Arkansas County, which was a political subdivision of the Arkansas District of Missouri Territory. In 1815, Arkansas County was further subdivided and Lawrence County was formed with headquarters in Davidsonville. This new county included most of what is now northern Arkansas. Modern Craighead County is partially within Arkansas County and partially within Lawrence County.

Residents of the Missouri Territory soon began petitioning Congress for admission to the Union. Their application did not include the District of Arkansas and Arkansas residents applied for separate territorial status for their district. In 1819, this resulted in the formation of the Territory of Arkansas. In 1838, Poinsett County was formed and included most of present-day Craighead County.

This situation persisted until 1850 when residents complained about the distance to the Poinsett County seat. As a result, a new county was formed from land taken from Greene, Mississippi and Poinsett Counties and named Crowley County in honor of Crowley's Ridge, which runs through its center. Senator Thomas Craighead represented Mississippi County and opposed this bill because it took away a major source of property taxes for his county. While he was out of the room, Senator Jones modified it to change its name to Craighead County and it passed without his knowledge.

In the early 20th century, Clay, Greene, and Craighead counties had municipal nightfall policies that prohibited African-Americans from living in these areas. According to the Census Bureau, Craighead County has a total area of 713 square miles (1,850 km), with 707 square miles (1,830 km) being land and 5.5 square miles (14 km) (0.8%) being water. Crowley's Ridge is its most prominent geological feature and it is served by Jonesboro Municipal Airport. 24.10% of its population is under 18 years old; 14.00% is between 18 and 24 years old; 28.70% is between 25 and 44 years old; 21.40% is between 45 and 64 years old; 11.80% are 65 years old or older; and its average age is 33 years old.

For every 100 females there are 93.80 males; for every 100 females age 18 or over there are 90.50 males. Craighead County has voted Republican in most presidential elections since 1960; before that it was solidly Democratic. When Senator Craighead returned he found out that Senator Jones had named it after him as a gesture of gratitude for his service to Mississippi County. It officially became Craighead County on February 19th 1859 when citizens named Jonesboro its county seat in honor of Senator Jones; it is one of several dry counties in Arkansas where alcoholic beverages are largely prohibited.

As Jonesboro and Paragould are approximately 16 miles apart they provide convenient services for all Craighead County residents. Senator Craighead followed Senator Jones' law with a resolution to name Jonesboro as its seat. Craighead County Judge Marvin Day announced that a decrease in mileage will take effect on January 1st 2021 in both county and city limits. Resolutions have been passed declaring an exemption from competitive bidding for the Craighead County Sheriff's Department to buy 4 Chev Tahoe's as well as an emergency ordinance that adopts certain rules and regulations regarding external noise from data centers to prevent noise disturbances in Craighead County.

Each town or city is within one or more municipalities in an Arkansas county according to maps and census publications.

Cindy Frantum
Cindy Frantum

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