SPRINGDALE -- Voters will decide Tuesday who will represent the Republican Party in a race for state Senate District 7.
Colby Fulfer and Steve Unger, both of Springdale, are in a runoff to determine who will face Democratic nominee Lisa Parks in a special election Feb. 8.
The winner in February will serve the unexpired term of Sen. Lance Eads, R-Springdale. Eads resigned Oct. 28 to take a lobbying job. His successor will remain eligible to seek reelection.
No one who voted in the Democratic primary can vote in the Republican primary runoff. Registered voters who either voted in the Republican primary or didn't vote in either primary are eligible.
Early voting in the election began Tuesday. Seventy-five people had cast ballots through Friday, according to Jennifer Price, Washington County elections director. Early voting continues from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today in the County Clerk's office in Suite 300 of the Washington County Courthouse, 280 N. College Ave in Fayetteville.
Fulfer is chief of staff for the city of Springdale and a former Springdale City Council member. Unger is a retired U.S. Navy captain in his first political race.
The men have different priorities for District 7. Fulfer said inflation is the biggest problem facing residents. Unger wants to develop an energy grid from the trash households and businesses leave for collection.
Fulfer said inflation affects every person in the district, rich or poor.
"Inflation is a tax nobody wants to pay," he said Friday. "You can't hide from inflation."
Fulfer said the voters need people in office at all levels who understand the economy and can find ways to put more money back in the pockets of people.
Unger said he would support construction of a trash-burning generator to gather energy to put on the electrical service grid.
This is an urgent problem, as the Tontitown landfill is almost at the end of its permitted space, he said Friday.
"I think Northwest Arkansas can be a leader in the state for dealing with this problem," Unger said.
Fulfer and Unger were the two leading candidates in a four-way Republican primary Dec. 14. No candidate got a majority of the vote, triggering the runoff.
Other candidates in the race were former state House member Jim Bob Duggar of Tontitown and retired engineer Robert "Edge" Nowlin of Fayetteville. In the Democratic primary, Parks defeated Derek Van Voast.
The Arkansas Constitution requires the governor to call a special election to fill legislative vacancies. Gov. Asa Hutchinson picked the dates for the primaries, the runoff and the special election.
This special election isn't affected by the recent redrawing of legislative district boundaries. Those boundaries will apply to the 2022 primaries and general election. Legislative district boundaries are redrawn every 10 years after each U.S. census to equalize district populations.
The existing boundaries of Senate District 7 include most of Springdale and Johnson plus southern Tontitown, all of Goshen and Elkins and eastern bits of Fayetteville. The district stretches to the eastern border of Washington County and touches both the southern and northern county lines.
The state has 35 Senate districts. State senators serve a four-year term and receive a base salary of $42,428. They also receive per diem and reimbursement for expenses.