Polk County votes to allow alcohol
By Ethan Nahté
Arkansas will have its first female governor as Sarah Huckabee Sanders gained more votes than Chris Jones in last week’s general election. The total votes so far are Sanders with 567,475 (63.08%) and Jones with 315,507 (35.07%), while Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. had 16,576 (1.84%). As of Tuesday, 98.67% of the votes had been counted. In Polk County, Sanders received 5,629 votes to Jones’ 1,121 votes.
All provided totals remain unofficial and uncertified at this time with the exception of Grant County. Results are taken from the Arkansas Secretary of State’s (SOS) election results. All but Phillips County in eastern Arkansas have completely reported. Viewing the Facebook page of the Helena World news site, it would appear that the county is still finishing the counts of absentee votes and will have six run-off elections for the mayors of Helena and Elaine, as well as for two Helena school board and two alderman positions. Most of the SOS results remain between 96%-99%
Another first, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will now be the first female lieutenant governor. Rutledge has received 573,640 of the votes to Kelly Ross Krout’s 285,213 while Frank Gilbert received 32,949. In Polk County, Rutledge received 5,602 votes to Krout’s 981.
For the first time in several decades, it appears as if Polk County will officially be a “wet” county. Local Option Question (Wet/Dry) received a total of 4,107 votes “FOR the Manufacture or Sale of Intoxicating Liquors” and 2,756 votes “AGAINST.”
Pulse Multi-Media will have more information about the “wet” vote. For the moment, Mena Mayor Seth Smith said, “I’m trying to learn more before I start answering questions. I don’t know enough about the law from ABC yet. I have been talking to the De Queen mayor Jeff Brown because he went through this two years ago. He’s been a wealth information.”
According to The Ouachitas owner Derek Campbell, restaurants can re-permit in the next 40 days. The liquor permit application will open sometime in January or February. Only one application per person will be allowed. The land/building owner must be a part of the conversation at the time of applying.
Campbell was not certain how many permits will be allowed.
The Pulse has also been in contact with the state and is awaiting their full response before reporting on what will and will not be allowed.
Of the other four issues on the ballot in the state race, Polk County voters voted as follows:
Issue 1-Against: 3,901-2,698
Issue 2-Against: 3,685-2,954
Issue 3-For: 3,427-3,294
Issue 4-Against: 4,224-2,640
Similar to Polk County, the majority of Arkansans voted against Issues 1, 2, and 4.
Issue 3, the “Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment,” was a tight race in both Polk County and across the state, with the results differing on Wednesday morning. Unlike Polk County voters, who voted for Issue 3 with a 1.98% majority, the bulk of Arkansans voted against Issue 3 in a very tight race with less than a 0.88% difference with 436,240 against vs. 428,576 for with 98.67% of the votes accounted for.
In the local races, Michelle Heath Schnell was unopposed for circuit clerk.
Jeremy Jones is the newly elected justice of the peace for district 2.
Mayor Seth Smith ran unopposed. The new city clerk-elect will be Kacie Rose. The city council ward 1, position 2 winner was Stanley D. Craig.
Joshua Hagler was elected constable, while Joan Headley was re-elected mayor. Barbara Vallee ran unopposed as Cove’s recorder/treasurer.
Mayor Linda Denton ran unopposed, as did recorder/treasurer Michael Callahan.
Terisia Hartley ran unopposed for mayor, as did Samantha Boyette for recorder/treasurer.
Melinda Kight ran unopposed for mayor and Tracy Morris ran unopposed for recorder/treasurer.
Dwight Billings ran unopposed for mayor and Barbara Frachiseur was unopposed for recorder treasurer.
The Republican Party won the other big races around the state that Polk County voters could cast their ballot. The winning candidates: Sen. John Boozman, Rep. Bruce Westerman, Secretary of State John Thurston, Treasurer of State Dennis Milligan, and Commissioner of State Lands Tommy Land retained their positions.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin has been elected as attorney general and State Representative Mark Lowery has been elected as the state treasurer.
State Senators John Maddox and Tommy Rice were both unopposed.
Supreme Court Associate Justice Robin Wynne was re-elected to the State Supreme Court for position 2, barely gaining the majority of votes in Polk County, but winning by a wider margin overall.
Arkansas had 1,799,136 registered voters for the 2022 general election and nonpartisan runoff elections according to the election results page from the Secretary of State’s office. Of those, Polk County has 12,183 registered voters with 6,946 ballots cast as of midnight on Election Day.
Voter turnout across the state was 50.39% at press time with 906,525 ballots cast. Reports indicate 57.01% of Polk County cast their ballot in the 2022 general election. That is more than double the voter turnout during Polk County’s primary election in May of 2022.