Political newcomers run for House District 25 seat; discuss need for rural representation in government and support for rural schools

Caitling Oxfod (left) and Chad Puryear
Caitling Oxfod (left) and Chad Puryear

FORT SMITH -- Two lifelong District 25 residents with no political history -- Democrat Caitlin Oxford, 41, and Republican Chad Puryear, 38 -- are running for the State House seat in the Nov. 8 election.

Arkansas House District 25 covers Goshen, Elkins, Winslow, Chester, Mulberry and Mountainburg, according to a map on the Arkansas Board of Apportionment website. The current District 25 representative is Les Warren.

State representatives normally serve two-year terms and receive a base salary of $44,357. The House of Reprsentatives has 100 members. Early voting begins Oct. 24.

Oxford said she's running because she wants the Legislature to support everyone, not just the wealthy. She's a wife and mother of five who owns Caitlin's Cleaning Service and two farms in Elkins and Goshen.

Oxford said she'd like better roads in the state and better pay for teachers.

"We just need to make a safer space for all, especially in the school system," she said. "We need to make our education better so our kids can be brighter for the future, healthier with better health insurance options that's accessible, and just fair. Bringing everybody in, being inclusive.

"I'm a woman and a mother and I referee all the time at home, so I can handle both sides of the table," she said. "And being a woman, you're more empathetic than men are. I will never say anything bad about my opponent, but that's what I will say, that women are more empathetic than men."

Puryear said he's a sixth-generation farmer and wants to be a rural representative in government. He's a special education teacher for the Huntsville School District.

"I've seen the concerns with our school districts from the perspective of both an educator and as a parent, and I understand that need to support the parents and the students alongside our teachers," Puryear said. "The rural schools, we need continued support to give our students that competitive edge as the workforce is changing.

"Want to make sure that the rural schools have the resources they need to prepare kids. We've got a changing workforce. There's a lot of opportunity for kids right now that may not go the college route, looking to get some career education stuff in there."

Members of the Arkansas House of Representatives serve two-year terms with term limits of no more than 12 consecutive years. They can return after a four-year break.

Arkansas state representatives represented an average of 30,115 residents as of the 2020 census.

House District 25 Candidates

Caitlin Oxford (D)

Age: 41

Residence: District 25 for 41 years

Employment: Owner of Caitlin’s Cleaning Service

Education: Attended the University of Arkansas

Political experience: None

Chad Puryear (R)

Age: 38

Residence: District 25 for 38 years

Employment: Special education teacher for the Huntsville School District

Education: Master’s degree in education from Arkansas State University, bachelor’s in agriculture from the University of Arkansas

Political experience: None


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