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Three Fort Smith residents make run for state house position

by Monica Brich | September 25, 2022 at 2:00 a.m.
Stephen Edwards (left) and Zack Gramlich.Candidates for House District 50

FORT SMITH -- The state House District 50 position has three people with different backgrounds vying for the seat in the Nov. 8 election: Democrat Diane Osborne, Republican Zachary Gramlich and Libertarian Stephen Edwards.

Arkansas state representatives serve two-year terms and have an annual salary of $44,356. District 50 covers the central and western portions of Fort Smith, according to the Arkansas Board of Apportionment website.

The House seat is open because Justin Boyd is running for the District 27 seat in the state Senate.

Osborne, 64, couldn't be reached for comment after multiple attempts through phone, email and social media.

Gramlich, 29, said he could bring fresh ideas to the District 50 position as he's a Fort Smith School District educator and small business co-owner. This is his first time running for office.

Gramlich said his priority if elected is to keep Fort Smith a great city to live, work and retire in. He said one example would be by funding schools and improving education to make students employable, thus attracting new businesses and creating jobs.

Another priority of his is ensuring the state is business-friendly so it can continue to grow, he said.

"If you look at Northwest Arkansas and western Arkansas, the River Valley, we are growing," Gramlich said. "People are wanting to come to Fort Smith, especially businesses. So we need to keep and ensure that we are creating an environment that is good for that so people can have jobs and have families and own their own home and have all those things that people want to do when they grow up."

Edwards, 46, owns and operates Across Arkansas Home Inspections. This is his fourth time running for the District 50 seat.

Edwards said he also hopes to focus on jobs if elected, but by occupational licensing and reform. He said his goal is to make it easier for people to find jobs, develop a skill and provide for themselves and their families.

"We can get rid of a lot of the regulation that keeps people from getting into potential professions," Edwards said. "Arkansas for many years has been ranked one of the most burdensome states in terms of occupational licensing. So we want to do away with a lot of that and make it easier for people to get jobs."

Edwards said he also wants to reduce spending and help ex-prisoners in finding meaningful employment to reduce the rate of re-offenses.

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House District 50

Zachary Gramlich (R)

Age: 29

Residency: Fort Smith for 28 years

Occupation: Middle school science teacher, Fort Smith School District

Education: Master’s degree in educational leadership from Arkansas State University; bachelor’s degree in biology with a teaching license from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

Political Experience: None

Stephen Edwards (L)

Age: 46

Residency: Fort Smith for 15 years

Occupation: Owner and operator, Across Arkansas Home Inspections

Education: Attended Henderson State University

Political Experience: Ran unsuccessfully for House District 50 in 2016, 2018 and 2020


Print Headline: Fort Smith residents run for state House District 50 position


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