CENTERTON -- Centerton doubled its population between 2010 and 2020, earning the city and surrounding area a new House seat when legislative boundaries were redrawn after the census.
Democrats nominated political newcomer Brian Eaton for the new District 14 seat. Three-term former House member Grant Hodges is the Republican in the race. District 14 covers all of Centerton along with much of Highfill and western Bentonville.
State representatives serve two-year terms and receive a base salary of $44,357. There are 100 members of the state House. Early voting begins Oct. 24 for the Nov. 8 general election.
"My values are more in line with this district, which overall is very conservative," Hodges said. "I've also served three terms. I won't have to spend a term or two learning how to do this, and my three previous terms mean I'll be coming in at the head of the class in seniority."
The more seniority a lawmaker has, the farther he is ahead in line in picking committees under House rules.
Hodges was first elected in 2014 while living in Rogers. He left the Legislature after getting married, starting a family and moving to Centerton. He also accepted a job with Northwest Arkansas Community College that involves dealings with state government. His job duties will change if he wins the election, he said.
He decided to reenter politics after Northwest Arkansas gained four House seats and a state Senate seat. The larger delegation gives Northwest Arkansas a chance to have a leading role in shaping state policy, he said.
District voters are most concerned with "meat and potatoes" issues like schools, public safety and road congestion, Hodges said.
Eaton said he decided to run because Hodges represents a point of view already dominant in the Legislature: Tax cuts at the expense of everything else.
"Grant is a wonderful person, but we have differing views on policy for here and around the state," he said.
Hodges has a history of favoring tax cuts, but now teacher pay and infrastructure needs, especially roads, go wanting, Eaton said.
"The main thing that characterizes this district is the incredible growth," Eaton said. The people living in the district and the businesses there -- both the established ones and the ones wanting to start up -- need representation that puts district needs foremost, he said.
Besides roads, the district needs state help in sustaining ambulance and other emergency medical services, Eaton said. Recreational facilities for the growing families in the district are needed also, he said. So is better access to health care services, he said.
Small businesses need those services to grow, Eaton said.
"Small business is the dynamo of the middle-class," he said. "Those are the names on the backs of kids' jerseys when they play tee-ball."