Kin­ion, Whi­taker an­nounce House bids

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - STACY RYBURN

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.

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