December 23, 2011 by wcobserver
By Jeff Winkler/WASHINGTON COUNTY — There are still about 330 days left until voters go the polls, but like their national counterparts, county-wide candidates for local office are already gearing up for the 2012 elections.
As reported in the Observer on Dec. 1, Cristi Beaumont has been running hard against Amy Turner and Bob Lambert in the special election for the Washington and Madison County Circuit Judge – recently vacated by Mary Ann Gunn — which will take place on May 22.
Candidates for the general election in November, however, are also greasing the wheels.
First-term incumbent State Representative Justin Harris (R-West Fork) recently announced his reelection campaign with a detailed press release stating that “jobs, tax cuts, education reform, and illegal immigration” would be his top priorities once returning to the House.
“Businesses create jobs when government gets itself and heavy taxation out of the way,” wrote Harris. “I am currently working on changing the tax codes to make them more friendly to the business community.”
Harris is seeking reelection amidst the minor controversy surrounding the preschool, he and his wife own and operate. Harris was investigated by the Department of Human Services after complaints were filed against Growing God’s Kingdom, for alledgedly promoting religion while receiving significant state funds – a possible violation of state laws and guidelines.
Like many incumbents in the 2012 race, Harris is not only running for reelection but also for a brand new-seat.
Originally the Rep for District 87, Harris is now running for District 81, following the 2011 districting by the Democrat-laden Board of Apportionment, which redrew district lines after the 2010 census figures. District 87 covered a significant portion of south Washington County and north Madison County. District 81 covers Elkins, West Fork, Brentwood and Winslow.
Harris is not yet facing any Democrat opponent, but thanks to redistricting another Republican candidate, Cedarville resident Terry Bibbs, recently announced his intention to run for District 80. The newly-created area covers another stretch of Western Arkansas, namely Lincoln and Prairie Grove in Washington County.
Currently a Justice of the Peace for District 1, Bibbs said he would “work to cut excessive government spending” as well as build “western Arkansas values, and [stand] against the attack on cattle farmers.”
As for the area’s State House race, one candidate got a particularly early jump. In late September,Mountainburg resident Bill Coleman announced his intent to run for State Senate District 5, whichcovers a wide swath from Alma, Mountainburg, West Fork and Winslow, to Huntsville and Eureka Springs.
Seeking the Republican nomination, Coleman is co-owner of Coleman Butane Gas Company inMountainburg, Winslow and Van Buren. With his business background, it should come as no surprise that Colemen is stressing local enterprise.
“Small businesses are the job creators for our economy,” wrote Coleman in a press release. “We must have a government that encourages the development and growth of small businesses and therefore job creation, not a government that strangles our businesses and stifles job growth with unnecessary regulations and over-taxation.”
The 2012 election will be a busy one for both House and Senate candidates – there are a total of 35senate seats up for grabs and House Republicans are hoping to further cut the Democrats, who took significant hits in the 2010 election after losing 16 seats to the GOP. Primary elections for both House and Senate are on May 22. Nationally, Republicans hold three of the four House seats.