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With less than three weeks left until early voting begins, candidates Tink Albright and Jason Nazarenko are pounding the pavement to reach Republican voters in Arkansas State House District 4 before this year’s primary election on March 5.
Arkansas State House District 4 encompasses all of Marion County and cuts into half of Baxter County to include Cotter, Gassville, Briarcliff, Salesville, Norfork, Buford, Buffalo City and Lone Rock.
In nearby AR House District 3, covering Mountain Home and the Northern parts of Baxter County, State Representative Stetson Painter has already secured his re-election this cycle due to no opposition from any candidate whatsoever.
Nazarenko has dominated the financial aspect of campaigning, raking in $11,310 in monetary contributions across 30 individuals and two political action committees (PAC) for the month of December alone.
Notably, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ PAC contributed $3,300 to Nazarenko, signaling an endorsement with its financial contribution. Sanders’ PAC also contributed to four other State House candidates in the Republican primary.
In total, Sanders’ PAC contributed a total of $36,300 to legislative candidates across the state during the last reporting quarter.
At the close of the December reporting period, Nazarenko raised a cumulative total of $33,860 which includes $15,000 of his own money and has spent a total of $21,480.04. The vast majority of his expenditures went toward local Twin Lakes businesses for advertising materials.
Meanwhile, Albright reported only a single monetary contribution for the month of December in the sum of $100. She has raised $1,150 total across three individuals and has pumped $30,000 of her own money into her campaign for a cumulative total of $31,150.
According to the last report, Albright has spent $21,558.49 on campaign expenses with the vast majority of the funds going to vendors outside the area– or the state. Over half of the expenditures went towards two outside professional political consultant firms from Little Rock and Georgia. Both firms provide strategic communications and political marketing services.
On matters of importance to voters
“We’ve got a lot of drug and mental health issues, in these counties, a lot,” Albright said. “You know, that needs to be addressed. We’ve got it all– the whole state. You know, it’s backing up our courts, it’s backing up our county jails, it’s backing up our prisons. It affects our education system, it affects our economic development. You can build all the businesses you want, but what are you going to do when you don’t have a workforce? You know, you’ve got kids in foster care. I mean, it affects everything.”
Albright expressed great interest in working with other state representatives and senators to put a plan in place to better tackle the addiction issue. She has also been speaking to farmers in the area.
“This [farming] is the number one industry here, not tourism,” Albright explained. She mentioned that many family farms in the area are selling out or going under and she wants to find ways to help them.
The LEARNS Act is also on the minds of some voters that Nazarenko has spoken to. The public is wondering how the new increased baseline salaries will be paid for past the initial funding period.
“There’s going to be some challenges with implementation,” he said, noting that Governor Sanders’ heart is in the right place to better educate children.
In addition, the number one topic of concern he’s found is the economy and how far the dollar is stretching these days.
“Budget. Money. Money is a huge concern [to voters]. The economy right now, the inflation and, you know, your money’s hardly buying you anything in the store and then we’re looking at, you know, other increases at the pump and everything else,” said Nazarenko.
Many voters in the area are concerned about national topics that the state legislature is unable to practically help, such as the crisis at the U.S. Southern border and national security.
“I think a lot of times, they just want to know how are you going to vote,” he added.
In the field and attending events
Both candidates have been hitting the pavement attending events and speaking with voters.
Albright’s yard signs arrived this week and she is busy distributing them to many people who have requested one. Albright stated she has a team of dedicated volunteers who are beginning to canvass voters door to door.
Meanwhile, Nazarenko has had a head start on knocking on doors with his team and is running from event to event speaking to as many voters as possible before voting begins.
Voters looking to meet and greet with both candidates at once will have a few opportunities before early voting begins.
The Marion County Republican Committee is hosting a panel and meet and greet of candidates on Feb. 8 from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the Marion County Annex Courtroom located at 105 S. Berry St. in Yellville. The venue is diagonally opposite of the courthouse.
On Feb. 12, another panel featuring both candidates will be hosted in Oakland at the Oakland Community Center located at 6093 Oakland Rd. from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
KTLO will also be hosting its usual panel for candidates, including one for AR House District 4. Nazarenko and Albright will face off live on air on Feb. 14 at 9:00 am on the radio waves at 97.9 FM. Listeners may submit questions to [email protected] until Feb. 9. Be sure to note which candidate or race the question is for.
Early voting begins on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Election day is Tuesday, Mar. 5.