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June 21, 2018
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Election filing period forthcoming

By Tia Lyons
This article was published February 11, 2018 at 5:00 a.m.

The filing period will soon begin for the 2018 midterm elections, and several candidates — new and incumbent — have expressed their intentions to seek, or retain, El Dorado and Union County public offices.

Two incumbents have said they will step down, opening up positions for city office, and one county official said he is not yet ready to announce his plans for the upcoming election.

Filing starts at noon Feb. 22 for political party filing and at 3 p.m. for nonpartisan.

The deadline for candidates to file is noon March 1 for party filing and at 3 p.m. for nonpartisan.

Early voting begins on May 7 for the primary election and Election Day is May 22, the same day as nonpartisan general election.

Any runoff elections, if necessary, will be held on June 19.

The general election is slated for Nov. 6, with early voting starting on Oct. 22.

El Dorado city offices

A crowded field of candidates is vying for the city’s top elected post.

Five candidates, including incumbent Mayor Frank Hash, have announced their intentions to run for mayor of El Dorado.

Hash first took office after winning a two-candidate runoff in the 2010 election, and he retained his seat during the 2014 general election.

The retired U.S. Army colonel and Arkansas Specialized Law Enforcement Officer announced last fall that he plans to seek a third mayoral term. Hash previously served as court administrator for the 35th Judicial District Court.

He will face four challengers, one of whom he faced four years ago in the mayoral race.

• Former El Dorado Alderman Tony Henry has announced plans to make another run for mayor of El Dorado.

Henry served for six years as alderman of Ward 3, Position 2, a seat he vacated when he ran for mayor in 2014.

Like Hash, Henry is a U.S. Army veteran. He has worked in management at Clean Harbors for nearly 25 years.

• Sgt. Chris Lutman, community relations supervisor for the El Dorado Police Department, officially announced his candidacy for mayor during the El Dorado Christmas Parade in December.

Rumors of Lutman’s intent to run for mayor were confirmed days earlier when the El Dorado Civil Service Commission held a special meeting to discuss the legality of a city employee, specifically uniformed personnel, seeking an elected city post.

City Attorney Henry Kinslow verified that the action is legally permissible.

Lutman has 16 years of law enforcement experience, and he joined the EPD in 2008.

The Jacksonville native previously served in the U.S. Air Force Elite Presidential Unit in Washington D.C. and as personal security for the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon.

He is a veteran of the Gulf War and was stationed in Saudi Arabia.

• Bill Luther is retiring this month after nearly 40 years in the utility industry as an engineer and most recently customer service manager in the El Dorado office of Entergy.

Luther is looking to put his work experience and insight gained from extensive community and public service to use as mayor of El Dorado, having served in a variety of capacities — including chairman, president and advisory board member — of numerous community organizations.

• Veronica Smith-Creer also has a lengthy dossier in community service and as a community leader.

Fittingly, Creer made history on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2018 when she formally announced her bid for El Dorado mayor, making her the first African American woman to do so.

She has become a familiar voice and face in the community, having taken on varied leadership roles in multiple organizations, committees and boards, including the Board of Trustees for South Arkansas Community College, where she earned an associate’s degree.

Smith-Creer is also active in various ministries and has hosted a local radio show for more than a decade.

Having worked with the Democratic Party of Arkansas for 12 years, Smith-Creer first sought public office in 2004 with an unsuccessful bid for alderman of Ward 2, Position 1.

Incumbent candidates who said they plan to file for re-election include:

• City Attorney Henry Kinslow

• City Clerk Heather McVay

• Ward 1 aldermen Mike Rice, Position 1, and Billy Blann, Position 2.

• Ward 2 aldermen Vance Williamson, Position 1, and Judy Ward, Position 2.

• Ward 3 Alderman Willie McGhee, Position 1.

• Ward 4 Alderman Dianne Hammond, Position 2.

Aldermen Kensel Spivey (Ward 3, Position 3) and Mary McAdams (Ward 4, Position 1) have said they do not plan to seek re-election.

Spivey said she will be moving out of the ward that she represents and may consider a future bid for a city council seat for the ward into which she is moving.

After serving three terms, McAdams said she wants to devote more time to other projects.

In January, Paul Choate, president of CMI Insurance and immediate past president of the Main Street El Dorado board of directors, announced his candidacy for a Ward 4 position on the city council, saying then, he had not yet decided which seat he will pursue.

It will be Choate’s third city council campaign, having lost one bid to McAdams in 2012.

Union County

With an ad that appeared several weeks ago in the News-Times, Union County Judge Mike Loftin made public his intentions to file for the seat to which he was first elected during the 2010 primaries.

Loftin was the former supervisor of the county’s highway department.

Quorum Court members who intend to seek re-election are:

• Mike Dumas, District 1.

• Justin Hendrix, District 2.

• Greg Harrison, District 3.

• Carolyn Jones, District 5.

• Cecil Polk, District 6.

• Johnny Burson, District 7.

• William Crowder, District 8.

• Benny Vestal, District 9.

• Ross Burton, District 11.

District 10 Justice of the Peace Cliff Preston said he has not yet reached a decision about whether he will run again, adding that he is still contemplating the matter and talking it over with and praying about it with his family.

JP Dean Storey, of District 4, could not be reached for comment.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@eldoradonews.com.

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