Friday, February 26, 2016

TOP STORY >> Primary election is down to wire

Leader staff writer

In Tuesday’s primary election, area voters will decide between the following candidates for local, state and congressional offices.

Judicial races are also held in conjunction with the primary.

Some will face opposition in November from another party, while others will be unopposed after defeating challengers from their own party.

Polling sites will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.


Lonoke County clerk candidate Courtney Ruble’s and state Dist. 29 Sen. Eddie Joe Williams’ (R-Cabot) requests for a monitor were granted Wednesday by the state Board of Election Commissioners.

Lonoke County Election Commissioner Chuck Eick explained that the monitor would meet with the commission to discuss how the election will be conducted, then watch the members to make sure they follow all applicable state laws. If violations are noticed, they would be reported back to the state board.

The monitor is another level of oversight, for absentee vote tabulating and results tallying at the Lonoke County Courthouse Annex on election night, Eick said, adding that he welcomes the monitor because he wants to know if the commission is doing anything wrong.

Ruble is facing off against County Clerk Dawn Porterfield. Both are Republicans.

In early December, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie Pierce ruled that she and a constable candidate be placed on the ballot after being left off it by Porterfield for incomplete paperwork. A JP candidate and another constable were also left off the ballot for the same reason. Porterfield claimed she had no legal authority to certify the names.

The judge said he didn’t blame her because the Faulkner County clerk had recently been charged for altering documents after the filing deadline. He also didn’t think the Lonoke County situation was the same.

Ruble said she requested the monitor because of the court case and because several people had told her they’d seen Porterfield in the election office after hours. She also told The Leader the monitor is a “good, safe measure for all of us candidates and the parties involved.”

Porterfield said she welcomes the monitor, but there are already fail safes in place. For one, according to her, the clerk’s office must provide an accounting of each absentee ballot and tampering would be immediately apparent. “There is no fraud going on in the Lonoke County clerk’s office.”

She also said her office must stay open until 6 p.m. during early voting to address any problems that arise. Porterfield emphasized that she is never alone with ballots.

Williams said he made the request because officials asked him to and that he had no reason to believe there would be a problem with the election except for their concern. He also has a Republican opponent, Lonoke County Justice of the Peace R.D. Hopper.

Lonoke County Judge Doug Erwin, Richard Kyzer and Fred D. (Skipper) Clement Jr. —all republicans — are on the ballot.

Sheriff John Staley, a Republican, also has a Republican opponent, Steve Finch.

Carla Horton and Kenny Fraley, both Republicans, would like to be the county’s coroner. The winner will be unopposed in November.

There are also three Republicans seeking J.D. Hopper’s Justice of the Peace Dist. 1 seat. He’s running for Eddie Joe Williams’ state Senate seat.

The Dist. 1 JP candidates are Brent Canon, Jesse Bear and Kevin Livengood.

Three Republicans, John D. Howard, Claud E. Irvin and Gregory Gibson, are seeking the Dist. 4 JP seat.

Dist. 5 JP Adam Justice, a Republican, has a Republican opponent, Robert (Bobby) Gilliam.

For Dist. 9, Republicans Linda Waddell and Les Carpenter are the candidates.

Republicans Daniel Hayes, Kenny Ridgeway and Bob Morris are seeking the Dist. 13 JP seat. All of Tuesday’s winners will be unopposed in November.


Eick said there had been an issue with the York Township contest between Republicans Chris A. Waters and Chris Bulice.

The commissioner explained that he recently discovered maps are not drawn to reflect precincts as they relate to constable races. The result of that is only some of the registered voters in York Township will be able to vote for constable on Tuesday.

The only other option would be allowing all Cabot voters to choose the constable, Eick said.

Either way, the man who loses the election could sue, the commissioner noted.

To keep this from happening in the future, he has requested additional training from the secretary of state’s office and plans to have every township in the county mapped by precinct.

In related news, competing for Gray Township are William Anthony (Tony) Southerland and Shay Cornwell, both Republicans.

On the ballot for Gumwood Township are Republicans Stephen Wright and David C. Hankins. The victor will face Democrat Eugene Beno Duke.


Democrats Jason Chris-topher Smedley and Lillie McMullen are competing for the Dist. 5 justice of the peace seat.


Dist. 34 Sen. Jan English (R-North Little Rock) has a Republican challenger, state Rep. Donnie Copeland (R-Little Rock). The winner will face Democrat Joe Woodson in November.

Democrats Kent Walker and Victoria Leigh are seeking Copeland’s Dist. 38 seat. The district includes much of Sherwood. The winner will face Carlton Wing, a Republican, in November.


Joseph (Joe) O’Bryan is running for re-election in the Lonoke County District Judge- Northern Division race, after being arrested in August for third-degree domestic battery.

Special, appoint-ed Faulkner County District Court Judge David Reynolds dismissed his case.

Cabot attorney John Flynn and Ward City Attorney Clint McGue are opposing O’Bryan for the Cabot court position.

State Sen. David Johnson (D-Little Rock) and Cammack Village-Wrightsville District Court Judge Rita Bailey are on the ballot, hoping to preside over both the Jacksonville and Maumelle district courts.

The two courts will soon share a judge and have countywide jurisdiction because of a 2011 law aimed at lightening the caseload of circuit courts across the state. All of Pulaski County will vote on the new judge.


Cabot has one city council race because Alderman Dallan Buchanan resigned Oct. 1 from representing Ward 2 in Position 1 to pursue a job in another city. Damon Bivins and Douglas E. Warner — both Independents — are competing in a special election that coincides with the primary.


Sen. John Boozmam (R- Ark.) is facing Republican Curtis Coleman in the primary. The victor will face off against Democrat Conner Eldridge of Lonoke, a former U.S. attorney; Libertarian Frank Gilbert and Jason Tate, a write-in candidate, in November.


In District 2, Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) is seeking re-election against Republican Brock Olree. The winner will face Democrat Dianne Curry, Libertarian Chris Hayes and two write-in candidates, Mathew Wescott and Charles Neely, in the general election.

Other important dates to know include that, if a runoff is required after the primary election, it will be held March 22. The voter registration deadline for that is Feb. 22.

The general election and nonpartisan runoffs, if they are needed, will be Nov. 8.

The voter registration deadline for that election is Oct. 10.

If a runoff is needed after the general election, it will be held Nov. 29. The voter registration deadline would be Oct. 31.

Voters must apply to register to vote one day before the actual deadline, according to the secretary of state’s website.

It also states that any deadline falling on a weekend or holiday will be extended to the next business day.