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ROGERS — Democrat Christie Craig has confirmed her bid for the state House seat held by Rep. Grant Hodges, R-Rogers.

Hodges is seeking a third term. Craig, a political newcomer, is his only announced opponent to date. House District 96 includes parts of Rogers, Lowell, Avoca, Garfield and Gateway and much of eastern Benton County.

“I’m a native of Arkansas who has lived here my whole life and I’ve seen a lot of different things make progress, but not fast enough,” Craig said. “We’re not moving fast enough or adapting fast enough,” particularly in economic development.

Craig, 37, was a store manager for Walmart when she left after 19 years with the company. She said she returned to college in 2016 to complete her economics and political science degrees at the University of Arkansas.

District 96 has most of its voters in the urban area of Rogers but includes a large swath of rural Arkansas, Craig said. She was raised in Ozark and moved to the more heavily settled Northwest Arkansas region. Therefore, she understands the needs of the district as a whole, she said.

“I understand the constant push of local governments to drive economic growth within city limits, but I also understand the challenges faced by many Arkansans in rural areas,” she said. “And I do not believe it has to be a zero-sum game. If everyone is willing to work hard and get their oars in the water, we can develop common sense policies that lift us all.”

Hodge’s only previous Democratic challenge was in 2014 and received less than 36 percent of the vote. Another 5 percent went to a Libertarian candidate who claimed Hodges was not conservative enough.

A Democratic challenge will be an uphill climb, Craig said, “But there are other voices to be heard.

“There has been a lot of population influx into this district, and some of these transplants may not be so stuck in their ways,” she said.

“I just don’t see an effort to embrace anything beyond their own agendas,” Craig said of the current political leadership. “It’s time for that to change.”

Candidate filing for party primaries begins Feb. 22 and ends March 1. The primary is set for May 22 with the general election Nov. 6. State House members serve two-year terms and have an annual salary of $39,400. Members can serve 16 years in the Legislature under the state constitution’s limit on terms.

Doug Thompson can be reached by email at dthompson@nwadg . com or on Twitter @NWADoug

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