Early Voting Continues, Ballot Reviewed
Early and absentee voting is now underway, and will continue through Monday Nov. 5, at the Clay County Clerk's offices in both Piggott and Corning. Ballots may be cast from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5. The polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 6. This year all of the polling sites in Clay County will be voting centers, and county residents may cast their ballots at any of the locations on election day. Those wanting additional information may call Clay County Clerk Pat Poole's office at 870 598-2813.
All four races in the City of Piggott are contested, as all of the incumbents have drawn challenges. Meanwhile, the race for mayor St. Francis is also to be decided next week, while the remaining candidates are un-opposed.
Mayor Jim Poole, of Piggott, has drawn opposition from North Ward, Position One, city councilman Travis Williams. Poole was a long-time alderman and was elected to the position following the death of Gerald Morris. Williams owns and operates a land-leveling business and is mid-way through his first term in office.
Meanwhile, City Clerk Ramona Magee is facing a challenge from Julie McMillon. Magee is seeking her fifth term in the office, and although McMillon is new to public service she served a five year term on the Piggott School Board.
Two city council positions are also to be decided in the General Election, as incumbent councilman from North Ward, Position Two, Mike Cook is facing a challenge from local businessman Kevin Jones. Cook retired from Legacy Equipment, while Jones and his wife, Julia, own and operate Jones Furniture.
Meanwhile, there are three candidates for the other council position, South Ward, Position Two.
The candidates for that seat include the incumbent, Jamey Parks, along with Brent Sanders and Jimmy L. Chilcutt. Parks is seeking his third term in office, and is the only member of council to be certified through the Municipal League. He's involved in the family business at Cox Lumber Company. Sanders is a long-time local resident, and former business owner, and is employed by CenturyLink. Meanwhile, Chilcutt is a newcomer to the political scene.
The only other race to be decided in November in the Eastern District is for Mayor of St. Francis, as incumbent Teressa Johnson is facing a challenge from Charles Conley. Meanwhile, Ricky L. George, Kimberly Hill and Judy Kay Gilbee are unopposed for seats on the St. Francis City Council.
There are no contested races in Rector, although a new council member will be sworn-in the first of the year. The only candidate to file for the council position from West Ward, Position One, is long-time Rector resident Anthony Dowdy. Meanwhile, Mayor Teresa L. Roofe and council members Iva Fahr, Lark Sigsby and David Romine are all unopposed for another term. The vacancy is being filled by Dowdy was due to the resignation of council member Ryan Lawrence, who moved from the city. Earlier this year he was appointed to serve out the unexpired term, and will continue to serve into the coming year.
There are no contested races in Greenway, as Mayor W.F. “Bill” McHaffey is unopposed. Also running unopposed are McDougal Mayor Carroll Shipman and council members Leslie Parrish and Marvin Kilbreath.
The only county-wide race to be decided is for assessor, with incumbent Tracy Gurley, of Piggott, facing challenger Erica Snow, of Rector. A Democrat, Gurley has served multiple terms, and prior to that worked in the office. Meanwhile Snow, a Republican, is another newcomer to the political scene.
On the regional scene, Republican State Senator Blake Johnnson, of Corning, is not facing opposition in this year's election. On the other hand, State Rep. Joe Jett, of Success, has drawn a Democratic challenger in Ryan Carter, of Corning. Jett was re-elected as a Democrat, but switched parties prior to the start of last year's general session. Carter formerly worked at the Walmart in Corning, and was a student at ASU. He's also a newcomer to the political scene.
First District Congressman Rick Crawford, a Republican, is facing two challengers—Democratic candidate Christian Desai, of Helena/West Helena, and Libertarian Elvis Presley, of Star City.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson is seeking another term, and has drawn opposition from Democrat Jared Henderson and Libertarian Mark West. Another incumbent Republican, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin has drawn opposition from Democrat Anthony Bland and Libertarian Frank Gilbert.
The field for Secretary of State includes current Commissioner of Lands John Thurston as the Republican candidate, along with Democrat Susan Inman and Libertarian Christopher Olson. Incumbent Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is seeking re-election, and is facing Democratic challenger Mike Lee and Libertarian Kerry Hicks. Incumbent Republican Treasurer Dennis Milligan is facing Libertarian challenger Ashley Ewald; incumbent Republican Auditor Andrea Lea is facing Libertarian challenger David Dinwiddie and three candidates are competing for the Commission of State Lands position being vacated by Thurston. They include Democrat Larry Williams, Republican Tommy Land and Libertarian T.J. Campbell.
One seat on the Arkansas Supreme Court is also on the ballot, as incumbent Justice Courtney Goodson is facing a challenge from David Sterling.
By Emily Thompson
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Arkansas has 1.7 million voters, but there is often a low turnout on Election Day. In fact, for the vast majority of counties in the state, voter turnout tends to be less than 55 percent, according to data published recently by the Washington Post.
The numbers are often even lower for state ballot issues, said Kristin Higgins, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Public Policy Center program associate.
“Thousands of more people vote for governor, but then don't vote at all on the statewide ballot issues, which often include policies that affect every person in the state,” Higgins said. “Voting on constitutional amendments or initiated acts are where Arkansans have a real impact on shaping the state and how we do things here.”
The Division of Agriculture Public Policy Center has produced a neutral voter guide on all the statewide ballot issues, available online at http://bit.ly/2JemOsf, or in print at local county extension offices. The center has also made short videos for each ballot issue, available on the Division of Agriculture YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/ARextension, so that all Arkansans can become informed voters.
“Voting is a right,” Higgins said. “Take the time to understand the ballot issues and then take the time to vote.”
Early voting began Oct. 22. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. Voting locations will be open that day from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
On the ballot
Issue 2: This proposed constitutional amendment would require citizens to show photo ID when voting in person or by absentee ballot. Currently, Arkansas requires voters to be a U.S. citizen, an Arkansas resident, be at least 18 years old and be lawfully registered to vote. This amendment would add a photo ID in addition to the current requirements to vote. Legislators would decide what types of identification would be accepted and create exemptions to the requirement. Issue 2 would require the state to provide free photo identification to those who do not have acceptable ID. Those who do not have IDs could vote using a provisional ballot. The legislature would have the authority to pass laws implementing Issue 2.
Issue 4: This proposed constitutional amendment would allow casino gaming at four locations in Arkansas: Oaklawn in Hots Springs, Southland in West Memphis, one location in Jefferson County and one location in Pope County. Pope and Jefferson county applicants would be required to submit a letter of support from the county judge or quorum court, and if locating inside city limits, from the mayor. Issue 4 would allow gaming at any time of the day and would put casinos under the oversight of the Arkansas Racing Commission. The proposal would put a tax on casino gaming revenue that remains after the casinos pay out the winners or set aside funds. The tax revenue would go to the state general revenue fund, to the county and city governments and the Arkansas Gaming Commission.
Issue 5: This is a proposed state law that would increase the current minimum wage of $8.50 per hour to $9.25 next year, then to $10 in 2020 and to $11 in 2021. This state law applies to employers with four or more employees who are not already exempt under existing state law.
The Arkansas Supreme Court has disqualified Issue 1 and Issue 3.
The Public Policy Center exists to provide Arkansans with research-based information and education about public issues that are pressing, emerging, involve multiple points of view and have widespread consequences.
For more information about the ballot issues and to sign up for the monthly newsletter visit, uaex.edu/ballot, and follow @uappc on Facebook and @UAEX_PPC on Twitter for all the latest updates.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.