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State House representative from Ozark won’t run for re-election

Republican elected to 2 terms by Michael R. Wickline | May 19, 2023 at 3:43 a.m.
Maj. Gen. Mark Berry, then the adjutant general with the Arkansas National Guard, speaks during a media briefing in Fort Smith in this Sept. 29, 2016 file photo. Berry retired in 2019 as the first secretary of the Arkansas Military Department, then announced his bid for the state House of Representatives in September 2019. Berry announced on Thursday, May 18, 2023 that he would not seek a third term in the state House. (NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo)

State Rep. Mark Berry, R-Ozark, said Thursday that he is not seeking re-election to a third two-year term in the Arkansas House of Representatives next year.

"Being able to represent the citizens of District 82, District 26 and the state of Arkansas has been a highlight of my 50 year public service career," he said in a written statement.

Berry, the House chairman of the Joint Performance Review Committee, said he will continue to serve as a state representative until the end of his current term in January of 2025.

"My early announcement will afford the people of District 26 an opportunity to determine who will serve them in the future," he said in his written statement. "Finally, I will cherish the friendship of my colleagues, in both chambers of our legislature, two administrations and the many supporters all over the state of Arkansas."

House District 26 includes portions of Carroll, Madison and Franklin counties

Berry is the second Arkansas House incumbent to announce he is not seeking reelection next year. In March, state Rep. Lanny Fite, R-Benton, announced he's not seeking reelection to the state House.

The 2024 primary election will be March 5, and the 2024 general election will be Nov. 5.

St. Paul Republican Bobby Ballinger Jr., a son of former state Sen. Bob Ballinger, R-Ozark, said Thursday in a text message to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that "I haven't made a decision about running for office, but I do have a heart for service for my community."

He said he is active in his volunteer fire department in south Madison County and on the Farm Bureau board in Franklin County.

"At this point, I do not know if my service to my neighbors will extend to serving them in the state Legislature," said Ballinger, who is a former aide to U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman.

Madison County Justice of the Peace James Eaton said he is considering running for the House seat.

In the 2020 general election, Berry was elected to Arkansas House District 82 and defeated Ozark Democrat Gwen Faulkenberry. He succeeded state Rep. Sarah Capp, R-Ozark, who was elected as a district judge

In the 2022 general election, he was elected to House District 26 after the state Board of Apportionment redrew legislative boundaries.

In 2015, then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson appointed Berry to serve as director of the Arkansas Military Department, adjutant general, and the first commanding general of the Arkansas National Guard. He became the first secretary of the state Military Department on July 1, 2019. He retired a few months later before he announced his bid for the state House of Representatives in September 2019.

Berry served more than 21 years active duty and 24 years with the Arkansas National Guard in numerous assignments.

Print Headline: Berry won’t seek reelection to seat in House district


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