WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Three Republicans and one Democrat are running to represent District 31 in the Arkansas State Senate.
Andrew Thompson, Paul Colvin, Jr. and State Rep. Clint Penzo are the Republican candidates.
Springdale Pastor Andrew Thompson said he’s running to ensure the district is able to provide for the next generation.
“It’s also the area that my children call home,” Thompson said. “They go to elementary school, all three of them right here in Springdale and as they grow up, I want this to be a place that has as much opportunity for them as the state of Arkansas did for me when I was their age.”
Thompson said he’s focused on improving economic development and education in Northwest Arkansas and keeping infrastructure up to meet the demands of a growing population.
“If we live in a region that is going to almost double in size in the next two decades, that means that we have to provide for the kinds of roads, highways and bridges that are going to allow people to be able to get from home to school, from home to church, from home to work, from home to the grocery store without being in a traffic gridlock every single day,” Thompson said.
Thompson also wants to support law enforcement and help fix the overcrowding of the Washington County Jail.
“We need to be planning to expand the carrying capacity of our jails and prisons to fix our broken parole system and to support local and state law enforcement at every level,” Thompson said.
Former Tonitown Mayor Paul Colvin, Jr. said he wants to be able to support the region on a state level now.
“Got lots of experience working within the government and working with state officials and really just trying to garner more support for all the towns that are included in my district and the citizens of my district,” Colvin said.
Colvin said he’s focused on bolstering infrastructure to keep up with severe weather, improving workforce development and helping to fight inflation.
“There’s hazardous mitigation money that’s available for the federal government and we like to assist those towns to be able to make applications and apply for some funding, drainage is a big, big deal right now,” Colvin said.
Colvin said he’s a fiscal conservative and has experience working with budgets.
“I managed a budget of a multi-million dollar budget throughout my mayorship and was able to build a lot of things in my little community that are paid for, Colvin said. “We had to finance a few things because of logistics, but we did try to pay out of pocket as much as we could and get everything done.”
State Rep. Clint Penzo said he grew up in the district and is ready to take his experience in the Arkansas House to the State Senate.
“I either lived in Springdale and Tonitown my entire life and I look forward to work on improving healthcare in Arkansas and working on adoption reform and human trafficking,” Penzo said.
Penzo said he’s focused on getting more money into the hands of constituents.
“We’ve cut a lot of taxes in the past and I would like to continue, we have a huge budget surplus and we could have cut more taxes and still be okay,” Penzo said.
Penzo said he would also like to continue to improve access to healthcare in the state.
“I spent five years working in physical therapy doing stroke rehab and I’ve seen a lot of problems with our healthcare system so a lot of legislation I run is to improve access to healthcare for Arkansans and lower the cost of healthcare in Arkansas,” Penzo said.
The republican that wins in the primary will go up against Democrat Lisa Parks who is running unopposed in the primary.
Parks is an attorney and she said she’s focused on fighting for children and families.
“We want to make sure that the kids and the families of District 31 have access to the resources that they need, quality education and good health care,” Parks said.
Parks said before tax cuts to wealthy Arkansans she would like to see money invested in resources to help families.
“We want our children to have access to pre-K,” Parks said. “We want our children to have access to education, a good quality education which also means giving our teachers the resources that they need.”
Parks said she would also like to see investment in housing and instead of prison and jail expansion, she would like to see more social programs.
“Let’s use those resources and provide community based treatment programs and mental health care and housing,” Parks said.
Election day is Tuesday.