Kinion, Whitaker announce House bids
FAYETTEVILLE — A City Council member announced Wednesday his bid for a spot with the state House of Representatives and a sitting House member passed on a state Senate run to stay on as representative of his district.
Mark Kinion, who was elected to serve as Ward 2 alderman in 2010, seeks to replace State Rep. Greg Leding in the House District 86 seat. The district includes Fayetteville and Johnson and part of western Washington County.
Also Wednesday, Rep. David Whitaker, D-Fayetteville, announced his intention to run for re-election as House District 85 representative. Whitaker was first elected to the House in 2012 and became minority leader earlier this year. District 85 includes parts of Fayetteville, as well as Prairie Grove and Farmington.
Kinion said he felt it important to get the word out about his candidacy because it will leave an open spot on the City Council. Serving on the council has given him experience in governmental budgeting and a sense of empathy for residents in the district, he said.
“I feel as though I have time to listen between now and the election to get input when I’m going door-to-door to really prioritize what people are expecting someone to do for them when they get to Little Rock,” he said. “It’s very important. You can’t go down there with a preconceived notion.”
Kinion listed education and health as focus areas. Housing, economic development, tuition for college students and job training also ranked among Kinion’s issues to take on.
“It’s going to take a great deal of diplomacy and looking for opportunities to be bipartisan in order to get through the maze,” he said.
Kinion lost his bid in November for county judge. Republican candidate Joseph Wood won the election with a 55 percent majority, gaining 44,103 votes to Kinion’s 35,363.
Leding, D- Fayetteville announced last month he intends to run for the state Senate District 4 seat held by Sen. Uvalde Lindsey, D-Fayetteville. Lindsey said he won’t run for re-election.
Whitaker said a public push to get him to run for the Senate seat flattered him but he has work to do yet in the House.
“House members, by virtue of the Constitution, run every two years,” he said. “So if you make a decision to run for another office you’re basically signing away the seat that you’re in.”
Whitaker listed among his priorities expanding pre-kindergarten education and continued support of public schools. He also hopes to prop up some of Leding’s initiatives, such as wage theft and pay equity.
“I think we have incredible opportunities here,” Whitaker said. “I’m just a little too interested in being a part of that to look at the Senate right now.”
Last year’s District 85 race went to Whitaker with a 53 percent majority. Republican candidate Dwight Gonzales received 6,607 votes to Whitaker’s 7,420.