We've always been impressed with Charlene Fite, the Arkansas House of Representatives member for District 80. She's strikes us as knowledgeable, thoughtful and effective.
Her district, which encompasses large swaths of western Crawford and Washington counties from south of Cedarville to Tontitown, includes lots of rural areas. The district's needs are diverse and the ideal representative is one who can converse authoritatively with constituents about public schools, health care, farming and the environment. The good news for District 80 is that's who they've got. We especially like her background as a former educator, since so much of the state's budget is committed to public schools.
Fite, a Republican who has served in the Legislature since 2013, faces Lou Sharp, a Democrat who is a retired nurse and small business owner, in the Nov. 3 general election. Sharp also makes a good impression. But Fite has served her constituents well and should have the chance to continue.
David Whitaker's knowledge of issues coupled with his background as an attorney make him a good fit to continue in the House of Representatives for District 85.
Whitaker, who was first elected to the House in 2013, faces Republican Brian Hester. District 85 stretches from Arkansas 265 in Fayetteville west to include Farmington.
Whitaker represents a district with a history of electing progressive candidates, so Whitaker, a Democrat, seems to fit with its voters. But as we've said before, being an effective lawmaker means representing all constituents and not just the ones inclined to vote for you. Identifying with a political party is one thing. But demonstrating independence and putting party allegiances aside for the good of the district means far more than slavish adherence to one ideology or another. We think voters in District 85 get that independence from Whitaker.
Perhaps one of the easiest endorsement decisions this season comes in the race for House District 86. The incumbent, Nicole Clowney, is far and away the better choice.
District 86 includes central and northwest Fayetteville.
Clowney, a Democrat, is completing her first term, but has already demonstrated a high level of effectiveness. She's a strong advocate for her constituents, but also makes clear she's willing to listen and work across political divisions. Voters in her district may not agree with every vote she casts or position she takes, but they can be assured that she'll do her job professionally. That means listening to constituents and colleagues no matter their differences with her.
We can't say the same of her general election opponent, John LaTour, the Republican nominee on the ballot Nov. 3. LaTour's insensitive and offensive social media posts in recent months demonstrate a lack of judgment the voters in his district can do without.
As much as some voters would like for the job of governing to be simple, it is a complicated and difficult process. Practitioners who do it well are people who take the time to learn all sides of an issue, evaluate how legislation or regulation will affect people directly and then communicate to constituents how and why they make decisions.
Residents in District 87 have that in Robin Lundstrum. The Republican from Springdale is smart, capable and effective. Not everyone in her district will agree with every vote, but they can at least know it was a vote cast after thoughtful consideration and study.
Lundstrum's opponent Nov. 3 is Democrat Michael Bennett-Spears. District 87 stretches from north Springdale all the way to Siloam Springs.
Lundstrum, an old-school conservative, fits her district's sensibilities well. We're also impressed with her background as a former educator and now a small-business owner. We think she "gets" how legislation can affect people where they live. Voters would do well to send her back to the General Assembly.
Speaking of someone who "gets" it, Megan Godfrey has earned a second term in the House representing District 89. Godfrey, a Democrat, was a surprise winner of this seat in 2018, taking it in a narrow race over a popular incumbent. She won by connecting with lots of voters in what is a blue collar and increasingly diverse constituency.
District 89 includes most of north Springdale.
Godfrey is an excellent communicator who understands that governing is more than quoting platitudes and voting along party lines. Her ability to work with lawmakers of all points of view makes her the right person to represent the people in her district.
A former educator, she brings a valuable perspective to a legislative body constitutionally tasked with funding a state public school system that must provide adequate, equitable opportunities to all children in Arkansas.
Godfrey's Republican opponent, Jed Duggar, is a political newcomer with a famous name. Voters will be well-served by opting for substance rather than celebrity.
We were unable to decide on an endorsement in the House District 88 race. Republican incumbent Clint Penzo has served two terms in the House and seems to have served his district well. His opponent is a political newcomer and small business owner, Hawley Woods, who would bring a fresh perspective. District 88 includes south and west Springdale.
What’s the point?
Legislative candidates who demonstrate the willingness to work across party lines make the best lawmakers.