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Van Voast enters special election for Senate District 7 seat

by Doug Thompson | November 23, 2021 at 4:01 a.m.

Candidate filing ends

Filing ended Monday at the Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office in the special election for state Senate District 7. The candidates are:

Republicans: Jim Bob Duggar of Tontitown, former state representative; Colby Fulfer of Springdale, city government chief of staff; Robert E. Nowlin of Fayetteville, retired engineer; and Steven Unger of Springdale, retired U.S. Navy captain.

Democrats: Lisa Parks of Tontitown, attorney; and Derek Van Voast, chief executive of the nonprofit Building Bridges Inc.

Source: Secretary of State

SPRINGDALE -- Derek Van Voast of Springdale filed as a Democrat on Monday in the special election for state Senate District 7, setting up a Democratic primary.

Candidate filing ended Monday for the seat vacated Oct. 28 by Lance Eads. Eads resigned to take a lobbying job, requiring a special election to fill the vacancy. Party primaries are Dec. 14. The special election is Feb. 8. Four Republicans and two Democrats are running.

"I think it is so important now, more than ever, that we stop dividing people," Van Voast said in his campaign announcement. "Democrat, Republican, rich, poor, Black, white: I think we need to unite people. We really do.

"We can talk about infrastructure and all these things all day long, but until we start uniting people of all races and having representation of all races, we're not ever going to have real growth. Remember, it's not about Black and white. It's about wrong and right."

Van Voast, 41, is founder and chief executive of Building Bridges Inc., a Springdale-based nonprofit with the goal of giving support and guidance to families and youth in need. He said Monday he is also a special assistant to activist and former presidential candidate the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.

Van Voast is a former high school football and track coach.

"He is committed to changing the lives of disadvantaged youth of all races and backgrounds, by helping them develop life skills and mentoring them throughout their high school or even college years," according to the Building Bridges website.

Van Voast said he has a master's degree in kinesiology from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and he ran unsuccessfully for Springdale City Council in 2020.

The 7th District includes Springdale along with the eastern side of Washington County, including Elkins and Goshen.

State senators serve a four-year term and receive a base salary of $42,428. They also receive per diem and reimbursement for expenses.

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