As of noon Friday, only 118 votes have been cast during the early voting period for the Fort Smith Board of Education election, and candidates want residents to vote.
The county clerk’s office said this includes all three voting sites at the Sebastian County Courthouse in Fort Smith, Greenwood City Hall and the Creekmore Park Community Center in Fort Smith.
Talicia Richardson seeks reelection as an at-large member and is the first black woman to serve in an at-large position on the school board.
Richardson is running unopposed but still wants people to get out and vote. She said there has been a push for women to run and more involved with the political process.
As a minority, Richardson said she’s “heard stories of those who fought for my right” to vote and wants to make sure she, and others, are taking advantage of the privilege and practicing their “civic duty” in all elections.
Susan McFerran, current board president, seeks re-election as the Zone 2 representative. She is facing Robert “Robbie” Wilson.
“I would love to be re-elected to see the completion of Vision 2023 projects promised to our community,” McFerran said last week in a news release. “I am excited about how our district is going to be changing and will definitely continue to be a premier district.”
Wilson — he is running on a platform of transparency and accountability — encouraged residents to vote, no matter who they select on the ballot, because school board members and their singular votes make decisions that have the ability to impact students for years.
“I know to some people the school board may seem unimportant or out of sight and out of mind, but the few elected volunteers who serve on it are tasked with laying the groundwork for the success of our children and the next generation,” Wilson wrote in a statement to the Times Record.
“They determine how to maintain the buildings our children spend their days in. They select the textbooks school children read and the online programs they will use for learning,” Wilson said. “They assess safety procedures during emergencies and choose the bus company that will transport our children home. They are also where the buck stops: they decide whether or not the school administration is delivering the highest quality of education possible to our students.”
McFerran did not return a request for comment by 5:30 p.m. Friday. She and Wilson are having a forum noon Monday at the Fort Smith Public Library.
The last day of early voting is Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Election day is Tuesday.