Congress seat draws hope­fuls

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - MICHAEL R. WICKLINE

Hot Springs Demo­crat Hay­den Shamel and Scran­ton Lib­er­tar­ian Tom Canada say they’re run­ning for the 4th District con­gres­sional seat held by Hot Springs Repub­li­can Bruce Wester­man.

Shamel, 36, is an English and Span­ish in­struc­tor at Lake­side High School and heads the Demo­cratic Party of Gar­land County, ac­cord­ing to her cam­paign web­site. She is a for­mer in­struc­tor at the Univer­sity of Arkansas Com­mu­nity Col­lege at Hope and teacher at Arkansas High School and Fouke High School.

“The peo­ple of Arkansas are fac­ing real prob­lems, and we need leg­is­la­tors who are fo­cused on find­ing real so­lu­tions,” Shamel said Mon­day in a writ­ten state­ment when asked why she is run­ning for Congress.

“We de­serve rep­re­sen­ta­tives who will reach across party lines to im­ple­ment bold eco­nomic poli­cies that will di­rectly help our fam­i­lies, friends, col­leagues and neigh­bors. We de­serve some­one who will get things done. We de­serve a bet­ter Arkansas,” she said.

She hasn’t pre­vi­ously run for elected of­fice, she said, but “I am an Arkansan want­ing to fight for Arkansans in Wash­ing­ton, DC.”

Shamel an­nounced her bid for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion on Twit­ter late Fri­day, a day af­ter her cam­paign filed a state­ment of or­ga­ni­za­tion with the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion. She will for­mally an­nounce her cam­paign on Satur­day from 3-5 p.m. at the Farm­ers Mar­ket Pav­il­ion in Hot Springs, said cam­paign man­ager Guneev Sharma.

Canada in­tends to seek the Lib­er­tar­ian nom­i­na­tion in the same district, said Michael Pakko, chair­man of the Lib­er­tar­ian Party of Arkansas.

Canada said Mon­day in a writ­ten state­ment that he is a 26-year-old as­sis­tant su­per­vi­sor at Stark Man­u­fac­tur­ing in Paris and that he’s never run for elected of­fice.

“But I felt com­pelled to run be­cause when I look at the things that our fed­eral gov­ern­ment is do­ing, I see how they will neg­a­tively im­pact my three chil­dren and their gen­er­a­tion. We have a gov­ern­ment that over­spends, over-taxes, and over-reg­u­lates. If we don’t start rein­ing th­ese things in now, then I be­lieve there will be se­ri­ous con­se­quences to fu­ture gen­er­a­tions,” Canada said in an email.

Wester­man, 49, has held the 4th District seat since 2015. He serves on three U.S. House com­mit­tees — Bud­get, Trans­porta­tion and In­fra­struc­ture, and Nat­u­ral Re­sources, ac­cord­ing to his of­fice’s web­site. He served in the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 2011-15 and on the Foun­tain Lake School Board from 2006-10.

In May, Wester­man voted for U.S. House-ap­proved leg­is­la­tion to re­peal and re­place the fed­eral Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act. At that time, he said, “This bill is not fi­nal, but the be­gin­ning of a process to re­peal Oba­macare and put in place con­ser­va­tive leg­is­la­tion that gives Amer­i­cans free­dom in health care.”

Repub­li­cans in the U.S. Se­nate later fell short of the 51 re­quired votes to ap­prove their ver­sion of the leg­is­la­tion.

Shamel said in her writ­ten state­ment that her pri­or­i­ties in Congress will be to im­prove the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, fight for bet­ter wages and jobs and en­sure ev­ery­body has ac­cess to af­ford­able health care.

“Our pri­mary fo­cus must be to make health care more af­ford­able for Arkansas fam­i­lies,” she said. “We must en­sure that the hard­work­ing res­i­dents of this state can af­ford to pay their co-pays and pre­mi­ums. We can­not al­low big phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies to charge out­ra­geous prices for com­mon pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tion, and we must make sure that those who live in ru­ral ar­eas can still re­ceive qual­ity health care by pro­tect­ing our ru­ral hos­pi­tals.

“I will fight to en­sure that all Arkansas fam­i­lies have the fun­da­men­tal right to af­ford­able health care, be­cause our health and well be­ing de­pends on it,” Shamel said.

Her cam­paign web­site de­scribes her as a proud gun owner who “will al­ways fight to pre­serve our sec­ond amend­ment rights.”

“I will also ad­vo­cate for Arkansas to take com­mon-sense steps to re­duce ac­ci­dents and crime while pro­tect­ing our right to bear arms.”

She called for bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion on gun safety and stor­age to pro­tect chil­dren, as well as uni­ver­sal back­ground checks “to pre­vent crim­i­nals and ter­ror­ists from gain­ing ac­cess to deadly weapons.”

“Th­ese ra­tio­nal mea­sures will en­sure that we both pro­tect Arkansas’ rich his­tory of gun and sport­ing cul­ture while also re­duc­ing the like­li­hood of ac­ci­dents and crime,” her web­site says.

Canada said in his email that “I fa­vor a clean re­peal [of the Af­ford­able Care Act], much like what [U.S. Sen.] Rand Paul pro­posed in the Se­nate.” Paul is a Repub­li­can from Ken­tucky.

“I fa­vor a free mar­ket ap­proach to health care, and I think his­tory bears out that ever since gov­ern­ment has been in­volved in health care via reg­u­la­tion and in­sur­ance man­dates, the costs have sky­rock­eted,” he said.

Jon Gil­more, se­nior cam­paign ad­viser to Wester­man, said that “Con­gress­man Wester­man is work­ing ev­ery day to rep­re­sent the views and values of the hard­work­ing Arkansans of the 4th District and his com­mon-sense ap­proach to is­sues is res­onat­ing across our state.

“Con­gress­man Wester­man’s work in a small busi­ness pre­pared him to rep­re­sent the con­ser­va­tive values of his con­stituents. He is pleased to wel­come any­one who wants to get in­volved in the po­lit­i­cal process and dis­cuss the is­sues im­por­tant to Arkansans,” Gil­more said.

Ac­cord­ing to Wester­man’s lat­est cam­paign fi­nance re­port, his cam­paign had $621,970.35 cash on hand as of Sept. 30.

For the 2018 elec­tion, the fil­ing pe­riod for state and fed­eral of­fices will be Feb. 22-March 1. The pri­mary will be May 22, and the gen­eral elec­tion will be Nov. 6, 2018.

In the 2016 elec­tion, Wester­man de­feated Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date Kerry Hicks of Malvern with 182,885 votes to 61,274, ac­cord­ing to the sec­re­tary of state’s of­fice.

For the 2018 elec­tion, the fil­ing pe­riod for state and fed­eral of­fices will be Feb. 22-March 1. The pri­mary will be May 22, and the gen­eral elec­tion will be Nov. 6, 2018.

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