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Primary, school board candidate forum held; early voting to start Monday

The Arkansas County Courthouse Annex at 312 S. College St. in Stuttgart is the site of early voting in the preferential primary, nonpartisan judicial, and school board elections.

With early voting beginning Monday, May 9 in the Arkansas Preferential Primary, Nonpartisan Judicial, and Annual School Board Elections, the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce, East Arkansas Broadcasters, and the Stuttgart Daily Leader hosted a candidate forum to help voters gain more information about the candidates. The event was held on Wednesday, May 4 at city hall with Lynn Keller serving as moderator. The forum was broadcasted live on Country 97.3 and the Stuttgart Daily Leader’s Facebook page.

Most of the forum was spent introducing candidates for the upcoming Stuttgart School Board Election. All the seats are up for grabs due to population shifts reported in the 2020 Census, which affected school board zoning.

The candidates for Stuttgart School Board are:

Zone 1: Victor Johnson* and LaToya Alexander.

Zone 2: Bryan Hancock* and Michal Rena Johnson.

Zone 3: Todd Barnes*, John Currie, and Rebecca Seyller. Barnes opted not to participate in the forum.

Zone 4: Sharon Davidson Konecny and Joseph Hunter Weaver. Weaver opted not to participate in the forum.

Zone 5: Kylia L. Neasley, Sarah Smith Murry, and Kamekia Robinson.

Zone 6: Candace Prine* and E. “Eplunus” Colvin.

Zone 7: Jennifer Payton*. Because Payton is running unopposed, she did not participate in the forum.

Following self-introductions, each candidate was asked a variety of questions ranging from fiscal goals to how to better support teachers to keep them in the classroom. Some of the questions were provided to candidates in advance and others were “fish-bowl” questions submitted by the public.

When asked about what they deem more important — facilities, teacher pay, student services, or enrichment — the candidates all agreed each area is equally important to creating a well-rounded student ready for college and a career after high school.

Many of the candidates talked about how the community needs the school board to be approachable to the community they represent and to listen to the needs of the community as well as students, faculty, and staff. To see the full forum, visit the Stuttgart Daily Leader’s Facebook page.

After the school board candidates, the candidates for Arkansas County Judge were asked questions about the state of the county.

The Republican candidates for county judge are Judge Eddie Best* and Jason Dobson.

When asked about the biggest issue facing Arkansas County, Dobson said the condition of the county roads is “by far” the biggest problem the county faces. He vowed to make improvements to those roads.

However, Best said the biggest problem facing the county is the labor shortage. He said the county is doing everything it can to gain dependable employees to provide county services, but there is a struggle in finding employees.

The candidates were asked several questions about how they would allocate funds, and why they are best suited to be county judge. See our Facebook page to view the complete video of the forum.

Republican Candidates for State Representative, District 61 also answered questions about how they would serve the district in Little Rock.

The Republican candidates are Rep. David Hillman*, Jeremiah Moore, and Josh Rieves.

Moore said he would focus on making East Arkansas impossible to leave as he feels the decreasing population is the biggest challenge the district is facing. He wants to do everything he can to create more industry, better housing, and improve schools so that people from District 61 want to stay in the district instead of moving to other areas of the state.

Hillman agreed that decreasing population is a concern. He vowed to continue to listen to what the district needs and said he would work to bring in more industry and better housing as he agrees these are struggles facing the district at this time.

Rieves said he wants to focus on making the government smaller. He feels the government needs to regulate less and give the power back to the people.

To see the full answers to questions about the candidates’ platforms, visit our Facebook page to view the forum video.

In Stuttgart, early voting takes place at the Arkansas County Courthouse Annex at 312 S. College St. and begins May 9 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday thru Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.  Early voting ends at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 23.

On Election Day, May 24, polls open at 7:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. Polling locations are the Arkansas County Courthouse Annex and PCCUA-Stuttgart at 2807 Hwy 165.

The Arkansas County ballot with all candidates listed can be viewed here.

*Incumbent

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