Senator Lance Eads (R – Springdale) resigned from the Arkansas Senate to take a job with a lobbying firm. The date of a special election to fill the vacancy has not been set. It will be set by the governor. The primary question for now is who is eligible to run to fill the vacancy?
What District? Although new proposed Senate district boundaries have been released, candidates who want to fill the vacancy must live in Senate District 7, as the boundaries exist now. Here is a map of the current Senate District 7.
The new boundaries will apply to the next term which begins in 2023.
Do I live in District 7? To double check whether you are in the current Senate District 7 you can use the search based on your address at either the Senate search site or the Washington County Election Commission search site.
How much time is left in the term? The person elected to fill the vacancy in Senate District 7 will behttps://www.washingtoncountyar.gov/government/departments-a-e/election-commission serving the unexpired term of office which continues through next year, 2022. In 2022 there will be a fiscal session of the legislature and it is possible the governor could call another special session in 2022.
Will the person elected be eligible to run for reelection? A person who is elected to fill the vacancy may run for election to a full term of office. Just remember there will be new district boundaries for the next term.
What are the qualifications for Senator? The qualifications are set by Article 5 § 4 of the Arkansas Constitution which says:
No person shall be a Senator or Representative who, at the time of his election, is not a citizen of the United States, nor any one who has not been for two years next preceding his election, a resident of this State, and for one year next preceding his election, a resident of the county or district whence he may be chosen. Senators shall be at least twenty-five years of age, and Representatives at least twenty-one years of age.
May a state Representative run for the vacant Senate seat? No. A state Representee is ineligible to run for the vacancy and cannot run even if the Representative resigns first. This is because of Arkansas Constitution Article 5 § 10 which says:
No Senator or Representative shall, during the term for which he shall have been elected, be appointed or elected to any civil office under this State.
May a County Judge, quorum court member, or other county officer run? No. They are prohibited by Article 7 § 53 of the Constitution which says:
A person elected or appointed to any of the following county offices shall not, during the term for which he or she has been elected, be appointed or elected to any civil office in this state: (1) County judge; (2) Justice of the peace; (3) Sheriff; (4) Circuit clerk; (5) County clerk; (6) Assessor; (7) Coroner; (8) Treasurer; (9) County surveyor; or (10) Collector of taxes.
What about someone elected to a municipal or school board office? There is no prohibition against municipal or school board officers running to fill the vacancy. The only prohibitions apply to legislators and county officials.
What is the salary of an Arkansas Senator? The annual salary of a member of the state Senate is $44,356.86.[i]