AR House republicans hold Fort Smith districts

FORT SMITH, Ark – Arkansas House of Representatives Districts 77 and 76 will remain represented by Republicans following Tuesday’s election.

District 77 state Rep. Justin Boyd, R-Fort Smith, and District 76 state Rep. Cindy Crawford, R-Fort Smith, won the majority votes for their districts in the south and east regions of Fort Smith. They will return to the state Legislature for the 2021 session in two and a half months.

District 77

Boyd, whose district encompasses virtually all of western Fort Smith south of Garrison Avenue, won 67.62% of the vote to beat out Libertarian challenger Stephen Edwards, according to unofficial results taken around 10:30 p.m.

A pharmacist by trade, Boyd in the last legislative session either drafted or cosponsored several pieces of legislation to restrict painkiller prescriptions in Arkansas. He also worked with the state highway commission to form a state-municipal agreement to rehabilitate Towson Avenue from downtown to Zero Street and then turn its jurisdiction over to the city in 2019.

Edwards has challenged Boyd in 2016, 2018 and 2020. He did not specifically speak against Boyd or his work in the legislature but rather said he has opposed him because he’s “concerned about the overall size and scope of government” and wants to be the voice of people who are the victims of what he believes are overreaching laws.

Edwards said the percent of votes he earned in this election is a reflection on voters looking outside the two-party system. But Boyd noted the percentage difference was similar to Crawford’s in District 76.

“(The 68% is) a positive reflection on the job I’ve done and on me as a Republican candidate,“ Boyd said around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday, when unofficial results roughly reflected this percentage.

Boyd on Tuesday night also said he is looking to propose legislation for statewide criminal justice reforms such as choke-hold bans, duty to intervene, parole equity and criminal record sealing for some offenses. He also said he plans to work toward easier online voter registration and screenings for pharmacy technicians and also work with the Republican house caucus on their Familes First agenda.

Boyd thanked his district’s residents who voted for him.

“It has been an absolute honor to serve the citizens of District 77 and the state of Arkansas,” he said.

District 76

Cindy Crawford, whose district encompasses the eastern third of Fort Smith, earned 70.53% of her district’s vote over Democratic challenger Caleb Harwell, according to unofficial results taken around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Crawford in the 2019 legislative session co-wrote the bill that eventually became the Cherish Act, which prohibits abortions in Arkansas after 18 weeks’ gestation except in medical emergencies and a handful of other circumstances. She also helped draft state laws that help people with criminal records seal some nonviolent and nonsexual criminal offenses and provide law enforcement training on how to identify and respond to an opioid overdose.

Harwell said he didn’t believe what Crawford has done for the state economy or in the statewide response to COVID-19 are “what Fort Smith would actually need,” which is why he ran.

Crawford said she perceives the percentage of her district that voted for Harwell is likely “straight Democrat voters” because Harwell didn’t advertise or campaign. Harwell said he believes 60% of Crawford’s votes are likely straight Republican voters.

Nonetheless, Harwell thanked Crawford for a “clean” race free of personal attacks.

“(I) congratulate her on her win,” he said.

Crawford said she plans to try to repeal shipping and handling taxes for online orders as well as other taxes in the state. She also said she wants to rescind Arkansas’ participation as one of 13 states that have signed on to try to reach the 38 states needed to change the U.S. Constitution.

“I’m going to work with the other Republicans to renew the American dream, restore our way of life and rebuild the greatest economy Arkansas has ever seen,” Crawford said.

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