2018 midterms: Local results
The 2018 midterm elections took place on Tuesday when Siloam Springs voters had the opportunity to select three of six possible candidates to represent Wards 1, 3 and 4 on the city’s board of directors.
At the regional level, there was an election to determine who would represent District 87 in the Arkansas State House of Representatives and there were also three proposed state constitutional amendments for voters to weigh in on. Listed below are the outcomes of these ballot items, along with some additional information.
Mindy Hunt defeated former city board member and former Siloam Springs Mayor David Allen with a decisive 59 percent of the vote compared to Allen’s 41 percent, according to election results filed by the Benton County Election Commission. There were also 35 undervotes, which occurs when a voter decides to select below the minimum number of options available for a given ballot item; meaning that in this case, 35 people voted for neither candidate.
The current director of Ward 1, Steve Beers, chose not to run for re-election, which initially prompted three candidates to come forward and run for the seat. The third candidate was Fares Trinidad, who was eliminated from the race after receiving the lowest number of votes in an Aug. 14 primary that had to be held due to city regulations, which mandate that each race consist of only two candidates before the November elections. Hunt has worked in a variety of capacities at John Brown University for just over 20 years and currently is the coordinator for assessment research for the college of business, according to an Aug. 1 report from the Herald-Leader.
This race was unique in that candidate Marla Sappington unseated the incumbent, Frank Johnson, by a margin of 57 to 43 percent, with 63 undervotes, according to the election results. The two candidates consistently opposed one another on several issues, ranging from the city’s efforts to overhaul the streets in the downtown area to the need for quality of life projects, such as the Kayak Park, which have largely been costly projects intended to enhance the value of the city; but also projects that don’t necessarily produce a steady revenue stream. Sappington currently works as the Operations Manager at the Manna Center, a local nonprofit whose goal is assisting low-income or homeless individuals in the community with problems like food and clothing insecurity, according to an Oct. 3 report from the HeraldLeader.
Similarly to Ward 1, the current director of Ward 4, Amy Smith, decided not to run for re-election. The candidates who came forward to fill this void were Morgan Scholz and Lesa Brosch, and Brosch won by a margin of 54 to 46 percent, and there were 91 undervotes, according to the election results. Brosch has experience working for city government in both Siloam Springs and Fayetteville and currently works as the Vice President of Human Resources for Crafton Tull, an engineering and architectural firm in Rogers, according to an Oct. 10 report from the Herald-Leader.
The victor of this race was incumbent State Rep. Robin Lundstrum (R), who defeated Kelly Scott Unger (D) by a margin of 70 to 30 percent, according to a report from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. During a Q&A-style candidate forum hosted by the Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 23, both candidates were asked a number of questions pertaining to a variety of issues and responded with opposing stances on nearly all of them; whether it was the legalization of medical marijuana or immigration policy or same-sex marriages. This will be Lundstrum’s third term in office and she also runs a rental property business called Cypress Investments, according to an Oct. 17 report from the Herald-Leader.
Three proposed amendments to the state’s constitution were also on the ballot, the first being that a valid photo identification must be presented when one goes to cast a vote in future elections. Voters overwhelmingly supported the ballot item, with 79 percent in favor and 21 percent against, according to a report from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Voters in Benton County remained relatively consistent with others in the state for this issue, with 81 percent in favor and 19 percent against, according to results provided by the Benton County Election Commission.
The second amendment called for requiring the state to issue four licenses to permit four casinos to begin operating in various areas of the state. The amendment was approved by voters, with 54.10 percent of Arkansans for and 45.90 percent against, according to the report. On the other hand, Benton County voted against the issue, with a narrow margin of 50.53 against and 49.47 percent of voters in favor with 5,076 undervotes, according to the results.
The third amendment proposed raising the Arkansas minimum wage to $11 per hour and was approved by voters by a margin of 68 to 32 percent, according to the report. Equal support for the issue was expressed among voters of Benton County, with 68 in favor and 32 opposed, according to the results. The wage increase will take place gradually, increasing from its current rate of $8.50 per hour to $9.25 per hour on Jan. 1, 2019, $10 per hour on Jan. 1, 2020 and $11 per hour on Jan. 1, 2021.