In addition to the race to decide the next President of the United States, voters in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County will have a variety of choices when they go to the polls for the November General Election.
Early voting started Monday at the Jefferson County Courthouse and by 11 a.m., more than 400 people had made their way from the County Clerk’s office down the hall to the little room across from the Quorum Courtroom, where 12 voting machines are set up.
Jefferson County voters can cast ballots at early voting from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, to Friday, Oct. 28, and Monday, Oct. 31, to Friday, Nov. 4; from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29, and Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Jefferson County Courthouse. The last day for early voting is Monday, Nov. 7, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There is one U.S. Senate seat open this year, and incumbent Republican Senator John Boozman is being challenged by Democrat and former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas Conner Eldridge, in addition to Libertarian Frank Gilbert.
Voters in a small part of the county will decide between Republican First District Congressman Rick Crawford and Libertarian Mark West, while voters in most of the county will choose between incumbent Republican Fourth District Congressman Bruce Westerman and Libertarian Kerry Hicks.
There is one contest on the ballot for the Arkansas State Senate, as incumbent Democrat Bobby J. Pierce is being challenged by Republican Trent Garner for the District 27 seat. Democrat State Senator Stephanie Flowers is unopposed in District 25.
In the State House of Representatives, incumbent Republican Mike Holcomb is being challenged by Democrat Dorothy Hall for the District 10 seat position. In District 14, incumbent Democrat Camille Bennett is facing Republican Roger D. Lynch, and in District 15, incumbent Republican Ken Bragg is being opposed by Libertarian Wayne Willems.
District 16 Representative Democrat Kenneth B. Ferguson and District 17 Representative Vivian Flowers were unopposed.
Voters in part of the county will also decide between attorney Alex Guynn and Pine Bluff City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott for the Division One position in the 11th West Judicial District. That race is nonpartisan.
The only county-wide race involves the one for Jefferson County Treasurer with Democrat Vonysha Goodwin facing Republican James Bass Jr.
There will also be three positions up for grabs on the Jefferson County Quorum Court — District 8, where incumbent Republican Roy Agee is facing Democrat Eric L. Hobbs, District 9, with Republican Derwood Smith meeting Democrat Cedric Jackson, and District 11, with Democrat Shade Culclager facing Republican Danny Holcomb.
In races in Pine Bluff, incumbent Democratic City Treasurer Greg Gustek is facing independent Jefferson County Justice of the Peace Lloyd Franklin Jr. for a four-year term. In Ward 3, Position 1, Democrat Donald Hatchett is being challenged by independent Sheila Moon, and in Ward 4, Position 1, Justice of the Peace Bruce Lockett, a Democrat, is taking on independent George Stepps, who is the incumbent in that race. Stepps did not initially seek reelection but was defeated by Goodwyn for County Treasurer and decided to run again for his council seat.
At Altheimer, Doris Hudson-Gaddy and Angela Williams are seeking the recorder/treasurer position, while Blanchie Laws and Barbara Ann Hudson are running for Ward 1, Position 1 on the City Council. Essie Robertson and Lester Hudson are seeking the Ward 2, Position 2 spot.
In Humphrey, Donald Combs and Michael (Porky) Roberts are running for alderman, Ward 1, Position 1, while James D. Carr Jr., and Eddie White are seeking the Ward 2, Position 2 spot.
There will be two contested alderman races in Redfield, with Tony Lawhon and Elizabeth Milam seeking the Ward 2, Position 2 spot, and Allison Beasley and Diann Smith running for Ward 3, Position 1.
There will be one contested race in Sherrill, as Joy Binns and Archie Blackwell both filed for Alderman Position 4. There will be no contested races in Wabbaseka or White Hall.
Additionally, there are 7 ballot initiatives to be decided during the election and a millage proposal for a new Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library, as well as upgrades to several county libraries. Pine Bluff voters will decide a 3.0 mill increase for the current 1.60 millage they already pay for library maintenance and upkeep.
The increase would be used to fund construction of a new $14 million, whose location has not yet been determined, as well as improvements to the Watson Chapel branch.
In the county, voters will decide a millage increase for the library that would raise a little over $1 million for improvements at the Altheimer, Redfield and White Hall branches. At a town hall meeting in July, Library Board Member Stephen Bronskill said the millage increase for county residents will be about $3 per year.
Ballot Issue 1 is an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution concerning the terms, election, and eligibility of elected officials. Ballot Issue 2 is a constitutional amendment to allow the governor to retain his or her powers and duties when he or she is absent from Arkansas.
Issue 4 is an amendment to limit attorney contingency fees and non-economic damages in medical lawsuits. The Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled against this item but it will remain on the ballot.
Issue 5 is an amendment to allow three casinos to operate in Arkansas, one each in the following counties: Boone County, operated by Arkansas Gaming and Resorts; Miller County, operated by Miller County Gaming; and Washington County, operated by Washington County Gaming.
The Arkansas Supreme Court has ruled against this item but it will remain on the ballot. The results will not be counted.
Issue 6 is the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment of 2016. A yes vote means a person supports changing the Arkansas Constitution to legalize the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for medical purposes. A no vote means a person opposes such measures.
Issue 7 is the Arkansas Medical Cannabis Act. A yes vote means a person supports legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. A no vote means a person opposes such a measure.
Voters may visit www.uaex.edu/ballot for a full text of the ballot initiatives.