Kingman-area constable candidates just looking to 'serve'

Four people vying for two positions

Cerbat Constable candidates, from left, Ray Cullison and Debbie Francis, and Kingman Constable candidates Mike Cobb and Neal Hickerson on Monday. (DOUG McMURDO/Miner)

Cerbat Constable candidates, from left, Ray Cullison and Debbie Francis, and Kingman Constable candidates Mike Cobb and Neal Hickerson on Monday. (DOUG McMURDO/Miner)

KINGMAN - If being nice were enough to win voters' approval, all four candidates whose names will appear on the ballot would wake up a constable the day after the election.

Unfortunately for two of them, there can be only one constable each for Cerbat and Kingman justice courts.

Former police officer and recently retired city clerk Debbie Francis faces Ray Cullison to serve as the Cerbat Justice Court constable. Recently appointed District 4 Supervisor Jean Bishop vacated her position as Cerbat constable in order to replace the late Joy Brotherton on the Mohave County Board of Supervisors.

Neal Hickerson seeks to take the position away from incumbent Kingman Justice Court Constable Mike Cobb.

The foursome stood side by side at Monday's monthly luncheon of the Kingman Republican Men's Club and explained why they thought they were the best person for the job.

While the candidates were gracious to one another and to the audience, there was a suggestion of tension regarding how much experience the job requires. Francis and Hickerson are retired law enforcement. Cullison and Cobb do not have such a background.

Constables serve court papers and perform court functions ranging from evictions to serving criminal subpoenas, and the job can occasionally get tense.

Cullison broached the topic when he said a constable does not need to be Peace Officer Standards Training certified. He noted that 50 percent of the constables in Arizona have no background in law enforcement.

Francis, who retired the first time after a 21-year career with first the Mohave and then the Pinal county sheriff's offices, agreed that a background such as hers is not required - but it is an asset.

Hickerson also believes his law enforcement background is a plus. He was injured on the job after 12 years and is retired, but his experience in uniform taught him how to deal with people who are "not real happy with you."

Voters will decide how much weight to give each candidate's background.

Here are a few highlights:

Cerbat constable

Cullison quipped nobody could hide from him because he's learned the area well in the 41 years he's lived in Kingman. He said he is a lifelong Republican and is "driven, determined and dedicated."

Cullison also said he would make the office cost-efficient.

Francis has spent a good portion of her life in Kingman, from a childhood that was spent in Kingman every time her father was sent to Vietnam.

As a police officer, she said, she worked in patrol, detectives, investigations and as a civil deputy. She is POST certified, and was also appointed to serve on the board that certifies men and women as police officers - and decertifies them when warranted.

She said she was drawn out of retirement when Bishop asked her to notarize documents regarding her resignation as Cerbat constable. The women had a conversation and Francis, a member of the Kingman school board, filed for office.

Kingman constable

Cobb was first elected in 2010, and he wouldn't mind being a constable until 2030.

A certified process server for four years and former businessman, Cobb said he knew nothing about the job when he decided to run four years ago, but he came to learn that the constable's main job is to move cases through the court system in an efficient manner.

He said Mohave County provides its constables about $100,000 a year. That seems like a significant amount of money, but Cobb said the figure includes salary and transportation expenses, the costs of running the office and other expenses.

He said he's collected nearly $99,200 for the county in four years.

"It's lots of work," he said. "We do everything, because there's only one constable per district."

Hickerson said he can't get law enforcement out of his blood. He said as an officer he worked patrol, gangs and narcotics.

Since his early retirement, Hickerson said he has worked as a volunteer park ranger and as security on a college campus.