2 Democrats vie for Arkansas House District 56 seat in primary; Republican unopposed

FILE - Arkansas lawmakers gather in the House of Representatives chamber at the state Capitol, Jan. 9, 2023, in Little Rock, Ark. Progressive advocacy groups in Arkansas on Monday, Dec. 11, asked a full federal appeals court to reconsider a three-judge panel's ruling that private groups can't sue under a key section of the federal Voting Rights Act. (AP Photo/Andrew DeMillo, File)
FILE - Arkansas lawmakers gather in the House of Representatives chamber at the state Capitol, Jan. 9, 2023, in Little Rock, Ark. Progressive advocacy groups in Arkansas on Monday, Dec. 11, asked a full federal appeals court to reconsider a three-judge panel's ruling that private groups can't sue under a key section of the federal Voting Rights Act. (AP Photo/Andrew DeMillo, File)


The sitting Arkansas House representative for District 56 faces a single challenger in the March 5 Democratic primary.

Incumbent Rep. Steve Magie and challenger Lakeslia Mosley, both of Conway, will square off in the March 5 preferential primary. Early voting begins Feb. 20.

The winner of the primary advances to face Republican Kim Slaughter in the Nov. 5 general election.

House District 56 is one of three districts that cover parts of Conway. The district includes most of the city's downtown area, stretching from Rooster Road in the east to Cadron Creek in the west, and is home to Hendrix College, Conway High School and Lake Beaverfork.

Magie, a 70-year-old ophthalmologist, is part-owner of Magie-Smith-Charton Eye Clinic. He said his medical background is one of the reasons people should vote for him.

"I'm a doctor," he said. "I'm not a politician. I have ran on that for a number of years."

Magie was first elected in 2012 and is the longest-serving Democrat in the state House of Representatives. Much of his focus as a legislator has been on health care, he said, but he said education is another issue that is important to him.

Magie said his time as a state representative has given him a chance to build relationships and earn respect with other lawmakers.

"I can work with my colleagues, and when there are people on the other side of the aisle that I can agree with, we will certainly work very hard to accomplish great things," Magie said.

However, he added he will fight for what he believes when those colleagues disagree.

Magie also has served on the Conway Civil Service Commission, the Conway Downtown Partnership and on the Conway Airport Advisory Committee, he said.

Mosley, 33, was born in Forrest City but moved to Conway in 1992. A statement and biography on Mosley's campaign website describes her as "a strong believer in God"and a "devoted mother." She is also a small business owner, operating Queen's Appointed Touch LLC.

Attempts to reach Mosley by phone and email to schedule an interview with the candidate were unsuccessful.

According to her campaign website, Mosley wants to serve as a voice for members of her community who don't have one, and address problems within her community that she sees.

"She got tired of living in her discomfort so she ran to do something about it," her website states.

Key issues for Mosley include taxation, voters' rights, gun control, women's rights, education and criminal justice reform.

Her campaign website states that Mosley hopes to develop programs and grants that aid local small businesses, and to improve policies surrounding training and community involvement in law enforcement "so we can have a better connection with the police department."

Homelessness is at an "all time high," according to the website, which emphasized the plight of Arkansas' veterans who don't have homes for themselves.

Mosley previously campaigned for state representative in 2022, running in House District 55.

Slaughter, the Republican candidate who will be unopposed in the primary, is a business owner and graphic designer.

Slaughter, 55, owns Toad Suck Mini Golf and Blue Focus Marketing and ran for the state House in 2022, losing to attorney Trent Minner in the primary. Minner ultimately lost to Magie by 10 votes in the general election that year.

A conservative Christian, Slaughter said improving access to adoption services is one of the issues she would focus if ultimately elected in November. Other priorities include keeping down government spending and supporting area small businesses.

She said she doesn't have any public service experience but decided to run because she "felt like a lot of the politicians didn't really have my best interests at heart, and so I felt like this is what I wanted to do."

Slaughter said people should vote for her in the general election because she isn't a politician and understands what it's like to struggle."

"I know what it's like to have your life impacted by politicians and the laws and so forth that they've passed," she said.


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