LITTLE ROCK — A former county and state election official and a political activist are challenging Arkansas’ incumbent secretary of state.

LITTLE ROCK — A former county and state election official and a political activist are challenging Arkansas’ incumbent secretary of state.


Republican Mark Martin, 46, of Prairie Grove is seeking a second four-year term as secretary of state. Before his election to that office in 2010, he served for six years as a state House member. He formerly served in the Navy as a nuclear engineering laboratory technician. He and his wife, Sharon, have three children.


Democrat Susan Inman, 68, of Little Rock is a former deputy clerk in the Pulaski County circuit clerk’s office, director of elections for the secretary of state’s office, director of elections for the Pulaski County Election Commission, state election commissioner and Pulaski County election commissioner. She has two children.


Libertarian Jacob Holloway, 26, of Little Rock is a political activist and a geographic research information systems research assistant at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. He ran unsuccessfully for the Jonesboro City Council in 2010 and for Arkansas’ 1st Congressional District seat, as the Green Party nominee, in 2012.


Each candidate was asked three questions and allowed up to 150 words for each answer. Holloway and Inman responded via email. Martin declined to participate.


What in your background qualifies you to be secretary of state?


Holloway: I have a diverse background that is different than most politicians, and I believe that my unique experience in political activism prepares me for the challenges of serving as secretary of state. I have personally registered thousands of Arkansans to vote and become more politically active and now I am ready to take my political activism to the next level and increase voter participation through the secretary of state’s office. Because of my political activism I was forced to work closely with the Secretary of State’s office and the various County Clerks and I became familiar with the important functions of the office and how the office could better serve the people of Arkansas.


Inman: From 1994-2000, I was the Pulaski County Election Commission election coordinator. From 2000-2003, I was the secretary of state’s director of elections. In early 2003 I was recruited back to the Pulaski County Election Commission to detangle the election debacle of 2002 as its director. In 2009, I retired. I have since served as both a Pulaski County election commissioner and a state election commissioner. In late 2009, I founded and led the first association for county election commissions in Arkansas (ACECA). In 2011, I wrote and published, "A How-to Handbook for County Election Commissioners," which was distributed to officials statewide. Since 1997, the U.S. Department of State has sent me to monitor over a dozen elections in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.


If you are elected, what plans to do you have for the office?


Holloway: I believe the secretary of state’s office is being underutilized in its role to educate and reach out to voters. I want to increase voter participation through simple reforms like online voter registration and same-day voter registration to increase the number of Arkansans registered to vote. Eventually, I want to see all eligible Arkansans registered to vote and I will personally canvass neighborhoods, make phone calls and write letters to inform citizens of their right to vote. I also will use the office to lobby the state Legislature for elections reforms like abolishing ballot access laws to allow third parties and independent candidates to run for office. I also want to advocate for instant runoff voting, which saves money and allows for a more equitable voting system. Finally, I want to plant a garden on the state Capitol lawn to highlight Arkansas’ agrarian heritage and promote agricultural education.


Inman: I was part of the team that selected and implemented the electronic voting equipment we use in Arkansas today. However, that equipment is old now and should have already been replaced. As your next secretary of state, I will begin that replacement process immediately. We deserve the best, most reliable equipment available. I want to make voting more accessible by expanding early voting. I also want to look into online voter registration and other innovative ways to increase voter registration and turnout. I want to re-evaluate the office’s website and the way it does business over the Internet. As custodian of the Arkansas State Capitol grounds, I will make parking more accommodating and convenient for both employees and visitors. I will also improve the aesthetics and increase the sustainability of the grounds.


What makes you the best candidate for the office?


Holloway: I am not running as Republican or Democrat but as a third-party candidate. I am essentially an independent and I will not be beholden to a political party or special interests. This will allow me to be a fair and neutral secretary of state, which I believe is essential to the mission of the office to conduct and certify elections. "Would you give a known thief the keys to your home?" In my opinion, that is exactly what voters do when they continue to re-elect corrupt politicians from the two major corporate financed parties. I believe that the era of the Democratic and Republican parties has ended as a string of political scandals and corruption continues and seems to never end. I believe I am the antithesis to the current culture of arrogance and narcissism that is rife in our two-party political system.


Inman: This is a full-time job that deserves a full-time secretary of state. I will be in the office every day, not just when it’s convenient. I will not waste taxpayer money on frivolous expenditures or bow to political agendas. Each new job I took throughout my career carried more responsibility and demanded more than the one before it. My colleagues in 61 counties across the state have followed my lead, joining ACECA in order to better themselves and the election commissions they served. I was elected by my peers to the Pulaski County Election Commission where I served as its chair. The speaker of the state House of Representatives appointed me to the state Board of Election Commissioners. The reputation I have developed, coupled with my nearly 30 years of experience in state and county government, makes me the best candidate to be the next Arkansas secretary of state.