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Northwest Arkansas candidates consider school board races amid filing date confusion

by Mary Jordan | July 28, 2021 at 7:01 a.m.
FILE — 'I Voted' stickers for early voters at the Benton County Election Commission office in Rogers in this Nov. 3, 2018, file photo.

Those interested in running for one of two Bentonville School Board seats up for election this fall have a week to file, starting today, according to Benton County Clerk Betsy Harrell.

Bentonville is the only school district in Benton and Washington counties holding its board elections on Nov. 2. Other districts in the area held their elections in May. The Cedarville School District in Crawford County also is holding a November election.

The candidate filing period begins amid some confusion stemming from Act 349 of 2021, which adjusted a law on the filing dates.

The law formerly called for a one-week filing period to end at noon Aug. 1, which this year would have had the filing period start July 26.

But Act 349 -- which doesn't take effect until today -- revised the language to establish a one-week filing period "ending at 12 noon 90 days before the general election." This year, that means the filing period would begin today and end Aug. 4.

An Arkansas education commissioner's memorandum from March set the candidate filing period for the Nov. 2 election as being from noon July 26 through noon Aug. 2.

Both the Benton and Crawford county clerk's offices, however, are operating as if the filing period begins today.

"We don't anticipate any problems with filing or the election," Harrell said.

Eric White, Bentonville's board president, said he'll be running for reelection this year in Zone 3, which consists of parts of north and central Bentonville and east Centerton.

White said he was unaware of the change in the filing deadline until Monday when he planned to file for reelection.

"I actually hoped that I could file today," White said Monday, noting he'd made travel plans for work later in the week. "It is what it is. I'll figure it out."

White defeated incumbent Grant Lightle and former board member Beth Haney with 55% of the vote during his first bid for the board in 2016.

Bentonville's Zone 7 seat is also up for election. Zone 7 covers southwest Bentonville and parts of Centerton, Rogers, Highfill and Cave Springs. Joe Quinn, the incumbent, said he's 90% certain he'll be running for reelection.

Quinn said he'd use the additional time presented by the change in the law to decide on running for a second term. He ran unopposed in 2016, one year after the board selected him to fill the seat left vacant following the resignation of Wendi Cheatham.

Only residents of the zones are eligible to vote in Bentonville's board races.

Position 2 in Cedarville is also open for election this year, said Ronda Robbins, Crawford County clerk's office deputy clerk. Rodney Dickens, Cedarville's board president, holds Position 2 for the district, Robbins said.

Dickens didn't reply to email Monday or Tuesday concerning his intent to run for another term.

All Cedarville School Board positions are at-large, said Superintendent Kerry Schneider.

School board positions are for five years.

Candidates upon filing must be a qualified voter and a resident of the district and respective electoral zone, if board members are elected from zones. Candidates also must file a petition with at least 20 signatures of qualified registered voters from the district or zone, or file a note of write-in candidacy with the county clerk.

Candidates also must file an affidavit of eligibility and a political practices pledge.

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Election information, documents, tools and results for Benton County are available at vote.bentoncountyar.gov/elections

Source: Benton County Election Commission

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