Tuesday, November 01, 2016

EDITORIAL >> Election Day is Tuesday

Election Day is Tuesday. Polls will be open from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Early voting continues through Saturday in Jacksonville, Sherwood, Cabot, Lonoke, Little Rock and Searcy, and on Monday in Cabot, Lonoke, Little Rock and Searcy.

The ballot is jam-packed.

The long presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be settled, assuming there are no contested outcomes, and we will know who will be inaugurated Friday, Jan. 20 as our country’s 45th president.

Arkansas voters will decide several state and local races and four ballot measures, although three more will still appear after being disqualified by the state Supreme Court but too late to be removed from the ballot.

Issue 1 asks voters to extend the terms of county judges, county court clerks and county surveyors from two years to four years.

Issue 2 seeks to let Arkansas governors retain their authority when out of the state.

Issue 3 will ask voters to vastly expand the state’s offerings of incentives to businesses looking to open here. Now, the state can only spend $259 million annually to entice businesses. Issue 3 has been touted as a major economic plan that would create jobs and bring major corporations to Arkansas. It has been criticized as a boondoggle that will add to the state’s debt.

Issue 6 asks to legalize marijuana use for 17 medical conditions and create cannabis dispensaries to be managed by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The disqualified measures were Issues 4, 5 and 7, so voters can save their time and skip over them at the ballot box. Votes cast for them will not be counted.

Issue 4 intended to limit financial awards for medical-malpractice lawsuits.

Issue 5 had hoped to allow casinos to open in Boone, Miller and Washington counties.

Issue 7 was another medical marijuana proposal, more extensive than Issue 6, that would have extended its use to people with dozens of conditions and allowed them to grow their own cannabis if they lived too far from dispensaries.

Sen. John Boozman, a Republican, is up for re-election against Democrat Conner Eldridge, Lonoke native and a former U.S. attorney, and Libertarian Frank Gilbert.

In the Second District, Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) has a Democratic challenger, Diane Curry, as well as a libertarian opponent, Chris Hayes.

Locally, state Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) and Democrat Joe Woodson, a North Little Rock attorney, are facing off in Dist. 34, which includes North Little Rock, Sherwood and Jacksonville.

There are three competitive state House races in the area: Dist. 42 Rep. Bob Johnson (D-Jacksonville) is being challenged by Patrick Thomas, and Rep. Camille Bennett (D-Lonoke) is up against Lonoke County Justice of the Peace Roger Lynch.

The Lonoke Chamber of Commerce will host a candidates forum during its luncheon at noon Thursday with Bennett and Lynch, who will have about 10 minutes to introduce themselves, followed by a question-and-answer session.

In Dist. 38, Democrat Victoria Leigh and Republican Carlton Wing, both of North Little Rock, are vying for the seat vacated by Rep. Donnie Copeland, who lost to English in the Republican Senate primary in March. District 38 includes North Little Rock and about half of Sherwood.

Also in Sherwood, voters will decide two Pulaski County Special School Board races: Gloria Lawrence and Linda Remele in Zone 3, and Shelby Thomas and Cori Burgett Fetters in Zone 4.

Sherwood residents are additionally being asked to approve a measure that will improve parks and give the city flexibility to get the work done faster and cheaper without raising taxes.

Cabot has three competitive aldermen races. Alderman Jon Moore is facing Damon Bivens for the Ward 2, Position 2 seat. Alderman Doyle Tullos has two opponents for his Ward 3, Position 1 seat, Norma Naquin and Wendell Gibson. Alderman Rick Prentice is challenged by Tom Koller in Ward 3, Position 2.

The runoff for the Cabot district judge race will also be decided this election. Judge Joe O’Bryan hopes to fend off Ward City Attorney Clint McGue, who finished first in the March vote, but fell short of the required 50 percent to avoid a runoff. The third candidate, John Flynn, has endorsed McGue.

Beebe Alderman Tracy Lightfoot and Donald Lewis are competing for Ward 2, Position 2.

There will also be several uncontested races listed on ballots throughout the area.

The Leader will report all the results in our edition next Wednesday. Happy voting.