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Northwest Arkansas school board hopefuls begin filing

by Dave Perozek | February 23, 2021 at 7:00 a.m.

Spring school board elections are coming up, and those interested in running for a seat must submit their paperwork to their county clerk by noon Monday.

There are 25 school board positions up for grabs in Benton and Washington counties in elections set for May 18. The candidate filing period began Monday.

Almost all of Northwest Arkansas' 15 school districts are holding their board elections in May, with at least one seat up for election this year in each district.

Bentonville is the only district in the region holding its election in November. The filing period for that election is in August.

Arkansas law gives school districts the choice of holding their regular annual school board elections in the spring or early November.

All candidates who win their elections receive five-year terms, unless they are running to fill an unexpired term. Such situations exist when board members resign before their terms run out. All school board positions are unpaid.

Three seats are up for election in the Rogers School District, including both of the board's at-large positions.

Nathan Gairhan and Mitch Lockhart, who hold the at-large seats and are completing their first terms, both said Monday they intend to run for reelection. Gairhan is board president.

The other Rogers seat available is in Zone 3, which covers a portion of the district east of downtown and south of Beaver Lake. Suzanne Spivey was appointed to that seat last year after no one ran for it when it became available during the 2020 election cycle. Spivey must win an election to retain her seat for the remaining four years of the term. Spivey said she intends to run.

In Fayetteville, the Zone 1 and at-large seats belonging to Nika Waitsman, board president, and Megan Hurley, vice president, are up for election. Waitsman and Hurley both said they intend to run for reelection. Both are completing their first full terms.

Fayetteville's Zone 1 covers the east and northeast portions of the district.

In Springdale, the only seat up for election this year is Zone 1, held by Kevin Ownbey. Ownbey has served on the board since 2011. He did not return a text message seeking comment Monday.

Board candidates must file petitions with at least 20 signatures from registered voters within the school district or from within the zone they would represent to appear on ballots. While some seats represent specific zones within a district, other seats are at-large and thus represent the entire district.

Candidates must be qualified voters and live in the district or zone for which they're running. They also may file a notice of write-in candidacy with their county clerk.

Board zone maps can be found on each school district's website.

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School board elections

The following is a list of seats on each Northwest Arkansas school district’s board of education that are up for election this spring and the term length the election winner will receive. The current occupant of each seat is listed in parentheses. The Bentonville School Board will hold its election in November.

BENTON COUNTY

Decatur

Zone 1, five years (Karen Davis)

Zone 2, four years of unexpired term (Amy Brooks)

Zone 3, two years of unexpired term (Kevin W. Smith)

Zone 5, three years of unexpired term (Ike Owens)

Gentry

Zone 2, five years (Jon Holt)

Gravette

Position 5, five years (Hope Duke)

Position 6, five years (Heather Finley)

Pea Ridge

Position 1, five years (Jennifer Wood)

Rogers

Zone 3, four years of unexpired term (Suzanne Spivey)

At-large Position 6, five years (Mitch Lockhart)

At-large Position 7, five years (Nathan Gairhan)

Siloam Springs

Zone 2, five years (Connie Matchell)

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Fayetteville

Zone 1, five years (Nika Waitsman)

At-large Position 1, five years (Megan Hurley)

Farmington

Position 4, five years (Amy Hill)

Position 5, one year of unexpired term (Lori Blew)

Elkins

Position 3, four years of unexpired term (Laren Vaught)

Position 4, five years (Gayla Stahman)

Prairie Grove

Position 7, five years (Shawn Shrum)

Lincoln

Zone 1, three years of unexpired term (Ronnie Remington)

Zone 5, five years (Connie Meyer)

Springdale

Zone 1, five years (Kevin Ownbey)

Greenland

Zone 6, five years (Candy Reed)

West Fork

Position 2, three years of unexpired term (T.J. Howerton)

Position 4, five years (Owen McAdoo)

Source: NWA Democrat-Gazette

Dave Perozek can be reached at dperozek@nwadg.com or on Twitter @NWADaveP.

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