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There’s another contender for Rep. Jack Fortner’s District 4 seat. Baxter County Justice of the Peace Rhonda “Tink” Albright has announced that she will be campaigning to become District 4’s newest representative.
Albright has served on Baxter County’s Quorum Court for almost 10 years, earning a reputation as one of the court’s stronger conservative leaders. She is also an active member of the Baxter County Republican Committee, and has served as the former treasurer of the Twin Lakes Republican Women.
She is also the past president of Business and Professional Women.
During her announcement, Albright said she is committed to standing for conservative values of the place she calls home. As a state representative, Albright said she wants to be an advocate for first responders and law enforcement, and for lower taxes, less government and pro-life values.
Albright also said she would like to focus on getting more resources for Baxter County and across the state for mental health issues and drug addiction. Baxter County is currently one of the top ranked counties in Arkansas for suicide and drug addiction.
“Serving the citizens of Baxter County on the Quorum Court for the past 9 years has been a privilege of a lifetime, but I believe it is time for me to service in a different capacity,” Albright said. “I am honored to announce that I am running for State Representative of House District 4. Representative Fortner has served us so well, and I hope I get the chance to build upon the foundation he has laid.”
Albright is a native of Baxter County with deep family roots in the Twin Lakes area. She has several years of experience in air medical operations, 911 operations and emergency planning. She is a former program director for Air Evac Lifeteam and a former 911 coordinator for Baxter County.
Albright has been running her family’s cattle farm in Whiteville alongside her husband, Richard Taffner, since 2017. Taffner is an epidemiologist and regional director for the Arkansas Department of Health. Together, Albright and her husband have two children and one granddaughter.
“As a lifelong resident of this area, I believe I have what it takes to represent the citizens of Baxter and Marion counties the way they deserve,” Albright said. “I want to be an advocate for first responders, a champion for lower taxes, and a defender for mental health and drug addiction resources. Most of all, I want to be a voice of reason in Little Rock for citizens of House District 4. I am beyond excited to start this campaign, and I hope I can count on your support.”
Albright is set to face off against Cotter’s Jason Nazerenko in next year’s primary election. Nazarenko announced his run for Fortner’s seat in July following the representative’s announcement that he would not seek re-election.
Fortner, 76, has served in the state House of Representatives since Nov. 2016, after winning a special election to replace former Rep. Kelley Linck of Flippin, who resigned to become chief of staff of legislative and governmental affairs at the state Department of Human Services.
During his time in office, Fortner was the chairman of the House Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee. He is a former justice of the peace for Marion County. Before politics, Fortner was a local businessman and is a veteran of the United States Navy. He served during the war in Vietnam.
In his retirement announcement, Fortner said he was leaving office because he was not having fun serving in the Legislature.