Early voting starts today

JP: It’s a ‘yes, yes’ to support hospital funding

By Ralph Hardin ralphhardin@gmail.com

Crittenden County residents looking to beat the lines on Election Day can hit the polls ahead of the crowds, as early voting for the March 1 preferential primaries and nonpartisan judicial elections begins today. All early voting will take place at the Crittenden County Courthouse in Marion. Early voting runs through Monday Feb. 29, at 5 p.m. The Crittenden County Election Commission has released ballot information for the upcoming Primary and Nonpartisan Judicial election candidates and other contests that will be decided on March 1: In the race for the Republican candidacy for the U.S. Presidency are Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Gov. Chris Christie, Donald J. Trump, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham and John R. Kasich. Candidates for the Democratic candidacy for President of the United States are: Hillary Clinton, James Valentine, Bernie Sanders, John Wolfe, Martin J. O’Malley and Rocky De La Fuente. In the Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate, Senator John Boozman will face challenger Curtis Coleman. Congressman Rick Crawford will be unopposed for his U. S. Congressional District 1 seat in the Republican primary. On the Democratic side of the ticket, Conner Eldridge is the lone candidate for the U.S. Senate race. State Representative Milton Nicks (District 50), State Representative Deborah Ferguson (District 51), and State Representative Monte Hodges (District 55) are all unopposed as well. In the nonpartisan judicial elections, Tonya Alexander and Curtis Walker Jr. will face off for the Circuit Judge District 2, Division 6, Subdistrict 2.1 seat. The State Supreme Court Chief Justice Position 1 seat will be contested between Justice Courtney Goodson and Judge Dan Kemp. And the race for the State Supreme Court Associate Justice Position 5 seat will be decided between Clark W. Mason and Judge Shawn A. Womack. Unopposed in the judicial races are District Judge Fred Thorne in the State District Court District 21 race; and Richard Lusby for the Circuit Judge District 2, Division 2 seat. County voters will also select their choices in a number of Quorum Court Justice of the Peace races. In District 1, the candidates are Justice Vickie Miles-Robertson and challenger Deborah Farrow. In District 5, the candidates are Justice Tyrone McWright and challenger Shabaka Afrika. In District 7, candidates are Justice Ronald Marconi and challengers John Moore and Kyle K. Watkins. In District 10, the candidates are Justice Jimmy Fraley and Turrell Mayor Dorothy Cooper. In District 13, the candidates are Justice Lorenzo Parker and challenger Danny Jerome Barlow. Justice Albert Leo Marconi (District 2), Justice Hubert Bass (District 3), Justice Stacy Allen (District 4), Justice Claude “Shorty” Steele (District 6), Justice Kenneth Cross (District 9), Justice Lisa O’Neal (District 11), and Justice Ronnie Sturch (District 12) are all unopposed. Crittenden County Coroner William “Bill” Wolfe will be challenged in the Democratic primary by Emily Burnett, and Crittenden County Circuit Court Clerk Terry Hawkins will face challenger Lisa Marie Turner. In other county races, County Judge Woody Wheeless, Assessor Kim Hollowell, County Clerk Paula Brown, Tax Collector Ellen S. Foote, and Treasurer Charles Suiter Jr. are all unopposed. There is no opposition for any of the candidates in the county constable races: Rodney Davis (Black Oak), Michael Ray Bass (Proctor), Billy Thomen (Lucas), Eddie C. West (Mississippi), Gary Ray Kelly (Jasper) and Steve Johnson (Jackson) are all unopposed. Another important decision voters will have to make in the election centers around a pair of measures concerning a county hospital. “This is an important vote for our county,” said Quorum Court Justice Lisa O’Neal. “This isn’t for a new tax. The tax is already being collected. It’s just moving the tax over to the new Baptist-Crittenden hospital. There are two items on the ballot, and it’s a ‘yes, yes’ to support and fund the new hospital.” The first measure, Ordinance No. 2015-18, continues the collection of the one-cent sales and use tax levied for a five-year period within Crittenden county to construct and equip a new medical surgical hospital facility as well as the cost of certain health care-related services to be provided by the new hospital, and redirects those funds toward the county’s agreement with Baptist Memorial Health Care. The second measure is for the issuance of hospital bonds in the “maximum aggregate principal amount of $25,150,000 for the purpose of financing all or a portion of the costs of the construction and equipping of a new medical surgical hospital facility,” the new Baptist Memorial Hospital-Crittenden. The new hospital will be leased to Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation, a Tennessee-based nonprofit corporation. Baptist will have the option to purchase the new hospital for nominal consideration on or after the 10th anniversary of the opening of the new hospital in exchange for Baptist’s agreement to operate the new hospital for 15 years after Baptist purchases the new hospital.

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