Local candidates file for state offices

Fifteen candidates from Garland County filed for state elected offices on Monday, according to the Arkansas secretary of state's office.

Of the 15, seven filed as Republicans, six as nonpartisans, one as a Democrat, and one as a Green Party candidate. Candidates have until Monday to file for office.

Early voting begins in Arkansas on May 5, and the primary will be held May 20.

In the Republican primary for state Senate District 14, Jerry Neal will challenge the incumbent, Bill Sample.

Sample and his wife, Betty Ann, recently sold their business, Pestco Inc., which they owned for 35 years, according to a news release. Sample was elected to the state Senate in 2010. He served as state representative for House District 30 from 2004 to 2010.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Sample said, "I've got all the confidence in the world that I'll prevail," even with his opponent criticizing his support for the "private option."

The "private option," which was passed into law by the state House and Senate by a bipartisan vote in 2013, allows Arkansans making less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level to use federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private insurance. Reauthorization of funding for the measure has stalled during the current fiscal session due to supporters being unable to secure the needed 75 votes required under Arkansas law.

Sample said the "private option" allows Arkansas more control over health care spending.

"I feel a lot better about the 'private option' than I do about 'Obamacare,' but I guess my opponent is for 'Obamacare,'" Sample said. "The people in (District 14) want Arkansas controlling their health care."

Neal, a Hot Springs Village resident and former Hot Springs Village Republican chairman, said in an interview that he was against both "Obamacare" and the "private option" and said he felt he has an "excellent" chance of winning the primary battle.

"(Sample) says a majority of voters are for the 'private option,' but I don't know which constituents he's been talking to," Neal said. "I think the majority of Republican voters in this county are against it."

Neal, a graduate of Hendrix College and a retired accountant, is married to Edith Fraley.

In the Republican primary for state House District 22, Garland County Justice of the Peace Mickey Gates will face JP Donald Laymon.

Gates said Laymon was a "fine gentleman" that he probably agrees with 95 percent of the time, adding that his 20 years' experience on the Garland County Quorum Court was the biggest difference between the two.

"I've worked to keep taxes low and limit the size of government and I want to fight for those same principles at the state level," Gates said.

Laymon, who has been a JP since 2010, said he felt he had a good chance at winning the primary race.

"Mickey and I have a different idea of what it means to be a representative in a representative democracy," Laymon said. "You are representing all of your constituents not just representing yourself."

Other Garland County candidates for state office who filed on Monday were state Rep. Bruce Cozart, R-District 24; J. Joshua Drake, Green Party candidate for governor; state Rep. John Vines, D-District 25; Laurie Rushing, Republican, District 26 state representative; Judge Marcia R. Hearnsberger, circuit judge, District 18-East, Division 4; Judge Lynn Williams, circuit judge, District 18-East, Division 3; and Judge John Homer Wright, circuit judge, District 18-East, Division 1.

Michael H. Crawford, Cecilia Dyer and Wade Naramore all filed for District 18-East Division 2, circuit judge.

Two of the four expected candidates for the 4th Congressional District seat filed for office on Monday.

After officially filing to run on Monday, former Yell County judge and Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt said in a news release, "I am running to make a difference for the people of Arkansas, not to make a career for myself."

"I have traveled throughout the district and look forward to working with people on the issues they consider most important including jobs, jobs training and education," Witt said. "I want to take my Arkansas values of faith, family, hard work and common sense to Washington. We're not going to solve the problems of the people from the 4th District with more partisan noise and name-calling."

After officially filing to run for the 4th Congressional District seat Monday, state Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-District 22, said "I'm the only one with a record" in the 4th Congressional District Republican primary.

"I do have the life experience and I've got the political experience and plus I've got a voting record that I'm proud of," Westerman said on Monday.

Other candidates expected to file for the 4th Congressional District seat are Republican Tommy Moll and write-in candidate Janis Percefull.

Local on 02/26/2014

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