December 2, 2011 by wcobserver
WASHINGTON COUNTY — If you’ve been to any public event in the past few months, chances are you’ve seen Cristi Beaumont. She’s the quick-paced blonde smiling, shaking hands and generally moving through the crowd like she’s running for office — which, of course, she is.
Beaumont is looking to replace former Washington and Madison County Circuit Judge Mary Ann Gunn, who left the bench in May, as the area’s primary arbitrator for Drug Court and the newly established Veterans Court.
State rules don’t allow candidates to begin campaigning until one year from the election and Beaumont wasted no time. Now, with almost six months before the May 22 election, Beaumont has been
going on a full-court press to meet voters and only seems to be increasing her visibility.
“I believe if you’re going to be a judge, you represent people and I don’t think you can be a good judge unless you meet people,” Beaumont said. “So my goal is to truly meet every single person in Washington and Madison County if I can.”
Beaumont certainly seems to be on her way to realizing that goal. She was there at summer farmers markets, at Winfest in August, at the West Fork Thanksgiving dinner, shaking hands of those in Black Friday lines, and riding in the parade during the Lights of the Ozark festival in Fayetteville. This past Saturday, Beaumont met potential constituents in Farmington and participated in the Springdale parade before heading to a community dance in Kingston. Whew.
“I had one Saturday where I had seven different events,” Beaumont said. “It was 12 hours, seven events and I put 200 miles on my car.”
Beaumont isn’t without competition. Fayetteville attorney Amy Turner and Springdale Attorney Bob Lambert are in the race as well. But it’s not Turner or Lambert that seem to be omnipresent.
A quick scan of Lambert’s candidate Facebook page shows a few, monthly updates. Beaumont’s page, however, reads like the non-stop campaign diary of an old pro, which would be deceiving. This Beaumont’s first time to run for elected office.
“I’ve helped on other judicial campaigns so just watching what other people have done in the past has helped us tremendously,” said Beaumont, who’s served as an attorney for more than 13 years. She also still works full time as a deputy public defender and on weekdays, squeezes in campaigning “before work, during lunch or after work.”
Beaumont said the most difficult thing about her manic schedule so far has been the traveling, as relatively limited as it is.
“This isn’t even statewide,” Beaumont said. “I don’t know how those guys do it.”
Did her family know what they were signing up for?
“My husband did. I don’t know if my sister or my mom did,” Beaumont said. “I could not do this without my family support … My sister lives with us, so my sister, my mom, [my husband’s] parents – they all live in Fayetteville – have been helping us. There’s no way I could do it without them.”
Campaigning certainly seems to come natural to Beaumont and the pace will only quicken from here on out.
“It’s one of those deals where you start going out to a lot of things, and then you continue to go to those along with newer events you keep finding out about,” Beaumont said. “It just keeps adding on.”
Not that that’s stopping Beaumont. This week, she officially kicks off the campaign with a fundraiser at Odom Law Firm in Fayetteville on Thursday.
The next day, she has five events and on Saturday it’s another parade. Oh, and on Nov. 23, candidates could begin collecting the roughly 1,500 signatures needed to be put on the ballot.
Beaumont said she has about 300 so far but that was, like, hours ago. She’s probably gotten a few more since and shaken twice as many hands.