Washington County Justice of the Peace Candy Clark has become the first announced candidate in the race to replace Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, following his announcement that he would forgo re-election to his District 84 House seat and instead run for lieutenant governor.
Clark, a Democrat and native of Fayetteville, has been a member of the Washington County Quorum Court for five years.
In announcing her candidacy, the former member of the Fayetteville Planning Commission said she believed the state legislature could benefit from her background, which includes chairing the Washington County Quorum Court's Finance and Budget Committee during her previous two terms on the Court.
"I believe we can do better in managing the state budget, improving public education and promoting economic development," she said.
A self-described fiscal conservative, Clark said in her position overseeing the county's budgeting process, she had produced and passed a balanced budget.
"As chair of the County Finance and Budget Committee for the past two terms, we have worked together to pass a balanced budget and cut property millage with no loss in county services," she said. "We have also built a coroner's building, animal shelter, parking deck, and finished renovations to the (Historic Washington County) Courthouse, all without raising taxes."
Clark also took time to highlight her background in the business and non-profit sectors.
She is co-owner and founder of C&C Commercial and Industrial Cleaning Service and co-owner of All Around Self Storage. Clark was also the first executive director of the Humane Society of the Ozarks and is the founding member of the Animal League of Washington County.
"As a local business owner for over 15 years, I also understand the real world realities involved with making payroll, paying taxes, and keeping a workforce of over 50 people employed," Clark said. "I am committed to bringing this same common sense to our state government as a member of the Arkansas legislature...
"My experience in private business as well as city and county government have prepared me to be an effective State Legislator to work in a bi-partisan fashion for our area, our state and its people. With both productive political and business experience, I am ready and prepared for new challenges in public service."
Speaking about education, Clark said she would focus on improving the state's education system should she be elected, including protecting funding for the University of Arkansas.
"I am strongly committed to assuring that our local public schools and the University of Arkansas are the best that they can be," she said. "Our children are our future, and we must make sure that they have the knowledge and skills to compete in the 21st century. I want to make sure they have the necessary resources and funding from our state government."
As of yet, no other candidates have announced for the seat. Fayetteville City Councilwoman Adella Gray, the 2012 Democratic candidate for the seat which includes the cities of Fayetteville, Elkins, Greenland, Prairie Grove and West Fork, said in a telephone call today that she would seek re-election to her council seat instead of challenging Clark to a primary battle.
No Republicans have yet announced for the seat.