ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — We take a closer look at competitive races that will impact Northwest Arkansans on Election Day.

The 3rd Congressional District is located in northwestern Arkansas. Benton, Boone, Carroll, Marion, Pope and Washington counties as well as portions of Crawford, Newton, Searcy and Sebastian counties are included in the boundaries of the district.

The district has been held by the GOP since 1966.

The current representative of the 3rd Congressional District is Steve Womack (R). Michael J. Kalagias (L) and Celeste Williams (D) are running for Womack’s seat.

Here is a look at each candidate for the 3rd Congressional District.

Steve Womack

Steve Womack (R) was first elected to the state’s 3rd Congressional District in 2011. He was on the Rogers City Council and served as Rogers’ mayor for 11 years.

He graduated with a bachelor’s from Arkansas Tech University and served in the Arkansas Army National Guard from 1979-2009.

His military awards include the Legion of Merit, the Arkansas Distinguished Service Medal, and, in 2015, Womack was presented with the Harry S. Truman Award, the highest award given by the National Guard Bureau.

Celeste Williams

Celeste Williams (D) is a graduate of Southern Nazarene University and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Williams works as a family nurse practitioner and is a member of the American Nurses Association, the Arkansas Nurses Association and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

She is active in her community through Rotary and her church. 

Michael Kalagias

Michael Kalagias (L) was born in New York and now makes Garfield, Arkansas his home.

Kalagias is a veteran of the US Navy and deployed to the Persian Gulf twice. He has a bachelor’s from Wayland Baptist University and teacher certification from Northeastern State University.

Kalagias has over 20 years of experience working in public schools, including time as a certified classroom teacher and school security.

KNWA/FOX24 asked the candidates of the 3rd Congressional District to give their opinion on three generic questions regarding Arkansas:

  • In Northwest Arkansas what is a situation that needs to be dealt with, for example, roads, water systems, environment, community safety?
  • When the pandemic hit, in hindsight, what are the first three steps that need/should be done to protect people?
  • Black Lives Matter, what does this US-based international movement mean in Arkansas?

Steve Womack: Clearly, infrastructure is our highest priority. Larger populations mean more stress to the transportation networks of our area.  Traffic congestion is a quality of life issue. Continued funding of the I-49 corridor—and specifically the need for a bridge over the Arkansas River and the completion of the interstate between Alma and Barling—remains a very high priority. In Northwest Arkansas, funding for improvements to U.S. Highway 412 around Springdale is critical. Finally, population growth also poses a challenge to our ability to supply clean water to our people and the safe and affordable treatment of wastewater. Providing these services while holding down rates will be a significant challenge to local leaders. In Fort Smith, the consent decree must be renegotiated to save Arkansas’s second-largest city from the devastating impact of higher sewer rates.

We’ve learned a lot about COVID-19 since the pandemic hit. Steps must be taken immediately to ensure we bring the supply chain for critical materials back to the United States. Following the recommendations of the CDC should be encouraged. Relief legislation must be targeted to the most affected Americans and businesses with proper oversight and accountability. And clearly, any relief must be provided in a way that does not incentivize people from returning to work.

Arkansans believe in the rule of law. They respect law enforcement. We recognize that occasionally even some in law enforcement cross over the trace. We hold them accountable. We also recognize the constitutional rights of those who wish to peacefully assemble, protest, and seek redress of our grievances. But we wholeheartedly reject any attempt to use these assemblies to riot, loot, and destroy public and private property and endanger the innocent. We also believe that any movement that states as one of its objectives the destruction of the nuclear family has no credibility in our state.  

Steve Womack, 3rd Congressional Dist. (R)
Celeste Williams

Celeste Williams: We must address social determinants of health – the conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of life-risks and outcomes – to ensure all families in Arkansas are able to live their American dream. We must address income inequality; improved rural infrastructure, including access to broadband internet; access to high-quality education and health care; and ensure safe working conditions. We must increase quality health care and access to Medicaid for our Marshallese community. Addressing these rural disparities and continuing the Medicaid expansion will save rural hospitals and improve the quality of life for all residents of Northwest Arkansas. 

As a nurse on the frontlines, I’ve seen firsthand the outcomes of our failed response. In a proper pandemic response, we first listen to and value the advice of medical experts and follow the basic public health response protocol of testing, tracing, isolating, and ensuring all frontline workers have proper protective equipment. Second, we ensure families and small businesses are able to survive by centering them in any relief packages. Third, we invest in research and development, our manufacturing sector, and in public health work by ramping up testing and tracing capabilities, working to develop vaccines and effective antivirals, and hiring local community members to conduct robust contact tracing that should be occurring. Our economy cannot recover fully until we defeat this virus. 

This movement is about recognizing that all people should be guaranteed equal justice under the law and, too often, this isn’t happening for people of color. All lives cannot matter unless Black lives matter equally. Ending bad policy, such as ‘no-knock warrants,’ would better protect both law enforcement agents and the community, at large. We must confront systemic racism, economic inequality, and health disparities head-on, so that every person in America can enjoy life, liberty, and pursue their own happiness. 

Celeste Williams, 3rd Congressional District Candidate (D)
Michael Kalagias

Michael Kalagias: Infrastructure needs to keep pace with growth in NWA. Our highways are mismanaged and inefficient making it difficult to keep pace, but a bigger problem is our waste. No one is adequately preparing for the sewage, garbage, and flooding from increased runoff that increased population brings.

Get the government out of the way. Our initial response was delayed and inadequate due to the certificate of needs laws and meddling by the FDA and CDC. The government actually made it illegal to have an appropriate response to the pandemic.

BLM the organization is a far-left organization that functions as a fundraising arm of the Democrat Party’s Act Blue. Unfortunately, this distracts from the legitimate message and need for Criminal Justice reform. We need to end no-knock warrants, warrantless searches and seizures, and qualified immunity that affect us all but disproportionately affect people of color.

Michael Kalagias, 3rd Congressional Dist. Candidate (L)