The 2022 general election features familiar names and a big-ticket item that would up property taxes to fund a school district's construction plans.
Tuesday is Election Day.
Texarkana, Arkansas, is choosing the person who will lead the city for the next four years. Incumbent Allen Brown is seeking a second term, having first taken office in 2019. He is being challenged by Tederal Jefferson, owner of The Dapper at Park Place.
The mayoral candidates met in late October for a debate at Arkansas High School.
Jefferson said he is running to foster unity and promote education in the Twin Cities.
"We the people of Texarkana need to become unified so that in the process our city can get things done, can get the funding it needs," Jefferson said during the debate.
Brown said he is inspired to run to maintain the progress the city has seen during his first term.
"To keep those things going and keep working on projects I've been working on with the current board, to make sure making Texarkana a better place to raise our family," he said.
Across the state line, voters in Texarkana Independent School District are deciding on two bond proposals totaling $189 million.
Proposition A is a $130 million bond for safety and security upgrades, a prekindergarten replacement school that would keep the Paul Laurence Dunbar name, a replacement elementary school on the district's Pine Street site for Highland Park and Spring Lake Park students, additions and renovations to Wake Village Elementary School and new school buses. If approved, the estimated tax impact would be a $9.06 per month increase for a home valued at $119,550.
Proposition B is a $59 million bond for new and existing facilities for Career and Technical Education at the Texas High School campus. If approved, the estimated tax impact would be a $4.12 per month increase for a home valued at $119,550.
The bonds are part of the district's master plan created by the 2026 Long Range Planning Committee, which identified four priorities that would take just over $187 million to address.
• improving safety and security ($2.5 million)
• replacing some schools and renovating other campuses ($122.89 million)
• renovating Texas High School and making Career and Technical Education additions ($58.97 million)
• replacing 18 district school buses ($2.7 million)
Homeowners 65 and older would not be affected by the passage of the bond propositions if they have filed for and received the Over 65 Homestead Exemption with Bowie Central Appraisal District. The exemption limits how much of a home's valuation is taxable.
The last Texarkana ISD bond passed in 2014. The money went to constructing Waggoner Creek Elementary School and the Sixth Grade Center at Texas Middle School.
One of the most highly watched issues appears on the Arkansas ballot.
Ballot Issue 4 would amend the Arkansas Constitution authorize possession and recreational use but not the sale of marijuana by residents 21 and older.
Among its requirements are child-proof packages and restrictions on advertising that could appeal to children; increasing from 50 to 100 the number of marijuana plants a licensed seller could grow; prohibiting state or local taxes on the cultivation, manufacturing, sale, use, or possession of medical marijuana; and prohibiting cultivation facilities and dispensaries near schools, churches, day cares, or facilities serving the developmentally disabled that existed before the earlier of the initial license application or license issuance.
Issue 4 would limit the number of cannabis licenses to 20 cultivators and 120 dispensaries statewide, which includes existing medical marijuana licenses. Lotteries would be held for 40 dispensary licenses and 12 cultivator licenses.
The amendment also would allow local option elections to prohibit retail sales of cannabis.
The Arkansas Poll sponsored by the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville shows 41% of likely voters favor of Issue 4 and 59% oppose it. The poll, conducted between Oct. 13-31, involved telephone interviews of 557 likely voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1%.
Upon its approval, Issue 4 would take effect March 8, 2023.
Arkansas will gain a new head of state after Nov. 8 to succeed two-term Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Former White House communications director Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a Republican, holds a commanding lead over Democratic challenger Chris Jones for governor. According to the Arkansas Poll, 59% of respondents are likely to vote Republican and 38% Democrat.
Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who would be the first female governor of The Natural State.
"Arkansans want a fighter who will push back against the failed radical left policies coming from Washington, but also a leader who will defend our freedom and create opportunity for all Arkansans," she said on her campaign website.
Sanders said she plans to lower taxes, foster an environment for Arkansas' businesses to grow and champion education while empowering parents and support law enforcement. She also pledges to begin phasing out the state's income tax.
Sanders says she will vote against any the ballot proposal to legalize recreational marijuana.
Jones, who holds a Ph.D. in urban development, is the past director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. He vows to expand broadband access; revitalize Main Street by investing in and expanding grant programs that support women- and minority-owned businesses; and develop programs to help small business owners maintain more competitive and sustainable wages and benefits for employees.
Jones advocates for "common sense measures" to reduce gun violence, including addressing the proliferation of ghost guns, and raising the minimum age for assault weapons purchases. He supports legal recreational marijuana as a revenue source.
Texas features a packed field for Texas governor, with incumbent two-term Republican Gov. Greg Abbott facing five challengers. Chief among them is former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, a Democrat.
A poll released Nov. 2 by the University of Houston shows Abbott leading O'Rourke (53% to 40%) among the sample of 1,200 likely voters. The poll has a margin of plus or minus 2.8%.
Abbott's campaign for a third term is rooted in a set of policy proposals called the "Bicentennial Blueprint: Framing Our Future. A chief part of the policy is growing the state economy through continued tax cuts and other measures to foster job creation.
The governor also wants to defend "our rights guaranteed by the Constitution," including the right to bear arms and religious liberties, according his campaign website. Securing the border, increasing government transparency, protecting the unborn and ending human trafficking also are key campaign items for Abbott.
Abbott also wants to keep his focus on how the state government does its business.
"During both legislative sessions under Greg Abbott's leadership, ethics reform was declared an emergency item for the Texas Legislature to address," Abbott's website says.
O'Rourke wants to fully fund public schools, including rejecting any effort to take public tax dollars out of school. He also says the failure of the state's power grid in February 2021 incites him to prioritize redesigning the grid.
"We're going to fully weatherize the power grid to withstand extreme weather and connect Texas to the national grid so that we can draw down power when we need it most," he says on his campaign website.
O'Rourke seeks "common-sense solutions" to gun rights, including disallowing permit-less carry. He also wants to guarantee "legal pathways that better meet the needs" of immigrants, their families, Texas communities and the economy.
O'Rourke also says legalizing marijuana would generate "nearly $1 billion in new state revenue and reduced criminal justice costs to invest in public schools and reduce property taxes."
Other important regional races
Along with a mayoral election in Texarkana, Arkansas, voters also will have the opportunity to decide the makeup of the Board of Directors.
In Ward 3, incumbent and Assistant Mayor Steven Hollibush is squaring off against Otha Williams Jr. Ward 3 incorporates large areas north and south of East Ninth Street and the Rondo community, including Arkansas High School, Texarkana Regional Airport and Cooper Tire and Rubber Co.
The open seat in Ward 5 is being contested by Donna Burnett, Danny Jewell and Phillip Jones. The section is bounded by Jefferson Avenue, East 42nd and 47th streets, Interstate 49 and East Broad and East 18th streets.
In Fouke, Terry Purvis is the sole candidate for mayor. The race for mayor in Garland will be between Ida Minton and Tyeshekka Antwine.
WHERE TO VOTE
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Miller County Polling Locations
• Highland Avenue Church of Christ, 1705 Highland Ave., Texarkana
• Doddridge Community Center, 9142 Arkansas Highway 160, Doddridge
• Fouke Community Center, 203 E. Redcut Road, Fouke
• Garland City Hall, 104 5th St., Garland City
• Legacy Baptist Church, 70 Miller County Road 289, Texarkana
• Christ United Methodist, 5204 S. Rondo Road, Texarkana
• Hickory Street Baptist Church, 2923 Hickory St., Texarkana
• Central Baptist Church, 2117 E. 35th St., Texarkana
• Pillars and Plants, 1101 Couch St., Texarkana
• Rondo United Methodist Church, 2335 N. Rondo Road, Texarkana
• Sandflat Neighborhood Center, 209 E. 14th St., Texarkana
• Sugar Hill United Methodist Church, 1621 Sugar Hill Road, Texarkana
• Cornerstone Baptist Church, 3900 Union Road, Texarkana
Bowie County Vote Centers
• Texarkana Public Library meeting room, 600 W. Third St., Texarkana
• St. Paul’s Missionary Baptist Church Family Life Center, 2921 Norris Cooley Drive, Texarkana
• Liberty Eylau Baptist Church Family Life Center, 5605 S. Lake Drive, Texarkana
• Liberty Eylau School of Success gym, 766 Macedonia Road, Texarkana
• Wake Village 1st Baptist Church Family Life Center, 820 Wake Ave., Wake Village
• Collins Senior Center meeting room, 3000 Texas Blvd., Texarkana
• Texarkana College, Levi Hall, 2500 N. Robison Road, Texarkana
• Goree Academic Learning Center Conference Room, 3201 Lincoln St., Texarkana
• Sullivan Performing Arts Center foyer, 3941 Summerhill Road, Texarkana
• Nash First Baptist Church, room 117A, 500 E. New Boston Road, Nash
• First Baptist Church, room 102, 3015 Moores Lane, Texarkana
• Richmond Road Baptist Church Worship Center, 5805 Richmond Road, Texarkana
• Hardy Memorial Methodist Church Youth Center, 6203 N. Kings Highway, Texarkana
• Hooks High School gym, 401 E. Ave. A, Hooks
• Simms Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 105 County Road 4216, Simms
• Old Salem Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 6199 Farm to Market Road 1840, New Boston
• DeKalb High School gym, 101 SW Maple St., DeKalb
• New Boston City Hall Community Center, 301 NE Front St., New Boston
• Leary City Hall Council Chambers, 9504 W. New Boston Road, Texarkana
• Red Springs Baptist Church Family Life Center, 1101 Farm to Market Road 991 Texarkana
• Redwater First Baptist Church Family Life Center, 105 Redwater Blvd. E, Redwater
• Maud First Baptist Church Family Life Center, 362 Houston St., Maud