Voters in Arkansas House District 77 now know the name of at least one candidate running to replace term-limited Rep. Stephanie Malone, R-Fort Smith.
In statement issued Tuesday (Dec. 3), pharmacist Justin Boyd announced he would run in the Republican primary for the seat, which encompasses a large portion of Fort Smith.
"Fort Smith's future is about meaningful work for people, quality of place for families and education that inspires students to make a difference," he said in a statement. "Each of those concepts is intertwined and absolutely crucial to our growth."
His announcement touts 15 years of experience in the health care field, having held positions at Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith, Washington Regional Hospital in Fayetteville and owning Coleman Pharmacy of Alma since 2009.
Boyd's background in the medical field will be a cornerstone of his campaign, he said.
"Without a doubt, (health care) is (an) important issue to me and one I am passionate about," he said. "But running for this office means I can make positive changes in all areas for my family and other families in Arkansas. Being a State Representative isn't a license for mediocrity. (It) means you get in and roll your sleeves up and make things work for your neighbors."
While Boyd is the first to announce for the District 77 seat, other races in Fort Smith are already off and running.
Republican Mat Pitsch has announced a run for House District 76, a seat held by term-limited Rep. Denny Altes, R-Fort Smith. It is the second campaign Pitsch has made for the seat, having previously lost in the 2012 Republican primary to Altes.
Rep. George McGill, a freshman Democrat representing District 78 in northern Fort Smith, has announced a 2014 re-election bid.
"I've been blessed to serve the Fort Smith community in the Legislature," he said. "There are so many wonderful opportunities for Fort Smith and being a part of the work to make those opportunities become reality has been exciting."
So far, none of the three announced candidates in Districts 76, 77 or 78 have announced opponents.
Other Fort Smith-area Districts do not appear to be moving toward a major challenge, as no other seats except District 21 south and east of Fort Smith are represented by term-limited representatives or senators (House members are limited to three two-year terms while Senate members are limited to two four-year terms):
• District 21: Rep. Terry Rice, R-Waldron (Term-limited)
• District 74: Rep. Jon S. Eubanks, R-Paris (2nd Term)
• District 75: Rep. Charlotte Douglas, R-Alma (1st Term)
• District 76: Rep. Denny Altes, R-Fort Smith (Term-limited)
• District 77: Rep. Stephanie Malone, R-Fort Smith (Term-limited)
• District 78: Rep. George McGill, D-Fort Smith (1st Term)
• District 79: Rep. Gary Deffenbaugh, R-Van Buren (2nd Term)
• District 81: Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork (2nd Term)
• District 82: Rep. Bill Gossage, R-Ozark (1st Term)
• District 5: Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest (1st Term)
• District 6: Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch (1st Term)
• District 8: Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith (2nd Term)
• District 9: Sen. Bruce Holland, R-Fort Smith (2nd Term)
Link here for more info about legislative districts in the Fort Smith area.