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El Dorado mayoral primary brings voters to polls

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Republican primary for the El Dorado mayor’s seat seemed to bring voters to the polls Tuesday in an election that decided several local races.

In Ward 4, Angela Jackson said she came out to vote because of the mayoral primary, where Republican candidates Chris Lutman, incumbent Frank Hash and Bill Luther competed for the chance to face off with Democratic candidate Veronica Smith-Creer in November.

Jackson said she was please with how fast the voting process took and noted that she cast her vote for Lutman.

“He’s a good guy all around,” Jackson said. “He can get things done and he’s very involved.”

Will Silvey, a representative of the El Dorado Professional Firefighters, said he came out Tuesday to support Luther in the mayoral primary. The group had officially endorsed Luther’s bid and set up a tent in support of him near the polling site at the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium, though the tent was more than 100 feet away from the building as required by state law.

“With (Luther’s) work at Entergy and the economic development that he’s done and he’s just a good person,” Silvey said in discussing why he felt Luther was the best of the three candidates. “He’s the most genuine out of all of the candidates. Most friendly and I feel like the most qualified for the job.”

In Ward 3, Dewey Rodgers said he headed to the polls Tuesday for the mayoral race, as well as for the Union County tax collector’s race, where incumbent Paula Beard faced challenger Karen Scott on the Democrat ballot. But, because the two races were in different parties, Rodgers was unable to vote in both.

“I really came out for that tax collector’s race and the mayor’s race, but I couldn’t vote for (mayor) because it was on the Republican ballot,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers said he voted for Scott, noting that she fought hard to get to

where she is.

“She started from the bottom up there and she’s certainly hands on,” Rodgers said. “She’s a stand-up girl and I like people like that. I think she has the credentials and I think change is good.”

Paula and Gary Allen voted together Tuesday. Asked why she came out to vote, Paula Allen said “I feel it’s my civic duty,” to which Gary agreed.

Curtis Lewis also came out Tuesday, saying he planned to vote in the Democratic primary and for Jared Henderson in the gubernatorial race.

“[I voted] to be a good public servant,” Lewis said.

Marsha Antoon voted at the Union County fairgrounds, saying that it’s her duty to vote. She said she was planning to vote for Luther in the El Dorado mayoral race.

Smackover-Norphlet

As of press time Tuesday, almost all precincts were reporting with the exception of Smackover. In the Smackover-Norphlet School District, as of 10 p.m. Tuesday, incumbent Lynn Birchfield was in the lead facing a challenge from Nathaniel J. Smith to continue serving with another five-year term on the school board. Birchfield received 41 votes, or 54.67 percent, to Smith’s 34, or 45.33 percent.

Parkers Chapel

In the Parkers Chapel School District, as of 10 p.m. Tuesday, challenger Bonnie B. Fish was pulling ahead of incumbent Wes Taylor for a five-year term on the school board. Fish, who previously served on the board from 1989-2007, received 195 votes, or 52 percent, to Taylor’s 180, or 48 percent.

School tax issues

Area school districts also had tax issues on Tuesday’s ballot, with each district asking to maintain the current rate. As of 10 p.m. Tuesday, prelimnary results were as follows:

In El Dorado, voters were poised to continue the 33.5 mill school tax, with 1,396 approving the tax and 801 voting against.

In Parkers Chapel, voters were poised to continue the 39.8 mill school tax, with 213 approving the tax and 138 voting against.

In Junction City, voters looked to be against the 40.9 mill school tax, with 94 approving the tax and 141 voting against.

In Smackover-Norphlet, voters were poised to continue the 41 mill school tax, with 173 approving the tax and 160 voting against.

And in Strong-Huttig, the vote was a real toss-up by press time to continue the 39 mill school tax, with 105 approving the tax and 106 voting against.

In statewide races, the Associated Press reported the following as of press time Tuesday:

Governor

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has won the Republican primary in his re-election bid, defeating a gun rights advocate and cable news commentator who declared her gun range “Muslim-free.”

Hutchinson defeated Jan Morgan in the state’s GOP primary on Tuesday. Hutchinson, who was first elected in 2014, will face Democrat Jared Henderson in November, as well as Libertarian nominee Mark West.

Hutchinson, a former congressman and federal Homeland Security official, had dwarfed Morgan in fundraising and was generally popular in the predominantly Republican state. Hutchinson had touted $150 million in tax cuts he’d successfully pushed through the Legislature and had proposed an $180 million cut for the state’s top earners.

Henderson, a former Teach for America executive, defeated Leticia Sanders in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. Henderson said he wants Arkansas to be the best state for public school teachers. Sanders is a hair braider who wants students to attend the same school from kindergarten to high school.

Henderson said he wants high schools and small colleges to provide basic business training to its students. He also opposes Hutchinson’s plan to cut the state’s top income tax rate.

The nonprofit Teach for America was founded in 1989 to recruit teachers for low-income areas. Henderson directed its Arkansas branch.

U.S. Congress,

District 4

Republicans in southern and western Arkansas want Bruce Westerman to serve a third term in Congress.

Westerman on Tuesday defeated a Pentecostal preacher who said God had told him to run. The Rev. Randy Caldwell had referred to himself as “Dr.,” but an aide told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper that the title was honorary. Until recently, Caldwell had lived in Texas.

In November, Westerman will face Democratic candidate Hayden Catherine Shamel of Hot Springs and Scranton Libertarian Tom Canada.

Westerman is a forester from Hot Springs and is sponsoring the Resilient Federal Forests Act, which would make it harder for environmentalists to derail federal forest management plans. Caldwell had said he wanted to “drain the swamp” and support traditional values and the Second Amendment.

Secretary of State

As of press time Tuesday, with 51 precincts in the state reporting, John Thurston was leading fellow Republican candidate Trevor Drown. Thurston had 68,687 votes, or 51 percent, to Drown’s 64,903 votes, or 49 percent.

State Supreme Court

Associate Justice,

Position 3

As of press time Tuesday, with 51 precincts in the state reporting, Justice Courtney Goodson was in the lead with 78,465 votes, or 38 percent, to David Sterling’s 71,355 votes, or 34 percent, and Kenneth Hixson’s 58,868 votes, or 28 percent.

Find the latest on election results at eldoradonews.com.