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Van Buren's Fite won't seek reelection to Arkansas House

by Michael R. Wickline | August 8, 2023 at 7:59 p.m.
Arkansas state Rep. Charlene Fite, R-Van Buren, asks a question during a House Education Committee meeting at the state Capitol in Little Rock in this Feb. 9, 2021 file photo. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

Arkansas state Rep. Charlene Fite, R-Van Buren, won’t seek reelection next year, she announced Tuesday.

The 73-year-old retired school psychology specialist has served in the Arkansas House of Representatives since 2013. She represents House District 24, which includes parts of Crawford and Washington counties. She is one of four assistant speakers pro tempore for the 94th General Assembly.

Fite said serving House District 24, and previously House District 80, has been one of the greatest honors of her life.

“My goal was to leave my beloved state better than I found it, and I believe I’ve done that through my work with children in foster care, our juvenile justice system, our military, our elderly population, victims of domestic violence and those trapped in human trafficking, people living with disabilities, public safety, and making Arkansas the most pro-life state in the nation,” she said in a written statement.

“There are seasons in life, and I’m entering a new season,” Fite said Tuesday. “Therefore, I’m announcing … that I will not seek reelection. I’m allowing time for the right candidate to step forward. Being a state representative involves much more than being pro-life and pro-gun. I want someone who will serve the people and who will advocate for those who have no voice.”

So far, she is the sixth state representative to announce plans not to seek reelection next year. The five others are state Reps. Lanny Fite, R-Benton; Delia Haak, R-Centerton; Mark Berry, R-Ozark; Milton Nicks, D-Marion; and Jack Fortner, R-Yellville.

At least a few other state representatives are considering whether to seek reelection next year. So far, none of the 18 state senators who are up for reelection in 2024 have formally announced plans to step down.

Fite said several people have talked to her in the past about running for the House District 24 seat after she leaves.

“I have called them in the past few days and none have made a firm commitment,” she said. “If someone steps forward who will serve with honesty, dedication, and be an advocate for those who need a voice, I’ll be happy to endorse that person. I love this district and want to leave it in good hands. If a good candidate doesn’t emerge, I’d have to reconsider my decision to retire now.”

Fite said she plans to be more available to her extended family and to volunteer in her church and community.

She said she will cherish the relationships she has made on the local, state and national levels.

“I’m grateful for the wonderful people of Crawford and Washington counties, for the staff of the House of Representatives, and the colleagues with whom I’ve served,” Fite said in her written statement. “I’m especially thankful for my husband Tom and his unfailing support. There is more good work to be done, and I will give the district and state my fullest efforts through the end of my term.”

The filing period for candidates for state and federal offices in Arkansas will be at the state Capitol from noon Nov. 6 through noon Nov. 14.

The primary election will be March 5, 2024. Runoffs will be held on April 2, 2024, and the general election will take place on Nov. 5, 2024.

The 100-member state House of Representatives includes 82 Republicans and 18 Democrats. The 35-member state Senate is comprised of 29 Republicans and six Democrats.

Print Headline: Van Buren’s Fite won’t seek new term; Retired schools employee is 6th House member to opt against reelection bid


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