- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Texarkana Gazette. May 12, 2018.

The U.S. and communist North Korea have been at odds since the 1940s.

Our nation fought a war to defend South Korea from the North’s aggression - a war that cost more than 35,000 American lives.

Since then relations have been tense. The U.S. stationed troops in South Korea to guard against any attempt by the North to reignite military conflict in a war where no peace treaty was ever signed.

More recently, the nuclear ambitions of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un have set his country on a collision course with ours. Kim’s unpredictability has made the threat of nuclear action seem more real than in any other part of the world.

But things appear to be changing. Late last month, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met at the Peace House in the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

From all accounts, the meeting went well, and the two leaders pledged to work toward a full peace between the Koreas.

President Donald Trump recently announced he would be meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

“The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th,” Trump wrote on Twitter “We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!”

Trump hopes the summit will lead to North Korea’s nuclear disarmament. And maybe it will. Maybe Kim has come to the conclusion that it would be better for him and his people to work towards peace with the West than continued conflict.

Or maybe not. No one can say what’s in the dictator’s mind and few trust his words.

But President Trump’s announcement is important. It’s a step in the right direction - a step no other U.S. president has taken. We wish the president every success in this meeting.


Southwest Times Record. May 13, 2018.

A complex situation has developed in the Arkansas Senate District 8 election, and we are eager for its resolution after the general election in November. Our editorial staff is also recommending a vote for Rep. Mat Pitsch as our next state senator.

We imagine that for many voters, the elections for District 8 have caused some confusion, which began soon after Sen. Jake Files resigned from the position in February. (Files resigned effective Feb. 8 after he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in association with state General Improvement Fund grant misuse.)

A special primary election is May 22, and that winner will move on to the special election in August. The winner of the preferential primary election will move on to the general election in November. State senators serve four-year terms.

The winner of the special election in August would simply finish out the remainder of the year, while the winner of the November general election would take office in January. Arkansas law requires a special election be set for an unexpected vacancy to ensure representation, according to a spokesman from the governor’s office.

So on May 22, there are two elections - one the regular Republican primary for the position, the other a special Republican primary for candidates wanting to fill the remainder of Files’ unexpired term. The winner of the regular primary will face Libertarian Whitfield Hyman on Nov. 6, while the winner of the special primary will face Hyman on Aug. 14. If required, a special primary runoff will be June 19.

It’s enough to make our head spin, but despite the complicated situation surrounding the races, we hope voters are educated and informed when headed to the polls. Who represents our area in the Arkansas Senate is important, and there are many viable candidates for the position. Denny Altes is a veteran who has served in both the Arkansas House and Senate, while Frank Glidewell is a veteran with experience as a representative in the Arkansas House and as a justice of the peace.

In the interim, we believe Frank Glidewell is a solid selection to fill the role, since Rep. Pitsch cannot assume the duties in his current position. But for the long term, we need Rep. Pitsch to continue his work for Fort Smith in the State Senate.

We believe Rep. Pitsch has proven himself to be a strong voice for our region in the Arkansas General Assembly. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2015 to represent District 76 and in 2017 was named Majority Leader of the Arkansas House. He has both a business and education background, a combination of experience that lends itself to serving our community well. In 2009, he became executive director of the Regional Intermodal Transportation Authority of Western Arkansas (now Western Arkansas Intermodal Authority), which includes Fort Smith and Van Buren; recently, the Van Buren intermodal project was listed on Union Pacific’s notable “hot sites” in the country.

Rep. Pitsch has served on the House Transportation Committee and the Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee. During the 91st General Assembly, Pitsch was also the sponsor of the Tax Reform and Relief Act of 2017. He has been named as vice chairman of the Game & Fish/State Police Committee, vice chairman for the Lottery Oversight Subcommittee and vice chairman for Agriculture-House Small Business & Economic Development Subcommittee. Pitsch also sits on the Task Force on Tax Reform and was placed on the Review Subcommittee, tasked with reviewing all state contracts.

Rep. Pitsch said in making his filing announcement that his focus will continue to be on representing Fort Smith and the region, promoting economic development, expanding and maintaining transportation infrastructure and stimulating pro-growth economic policies for the state. He’s also served as a member of the Fort Smith community by participating as part of the advisory team that helped develop Vision 2023, Fort Smith Public Schools’ five-year strategic plan.

In short, we believe Rep. Pitsch will continue representing our area well if elected to the state Senate, not only through his experience as a lawmaker, but through his experience as a businessman, educator and community member.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish in the House of Representatives and helping the governor strengthen the state during my time in the House,” Rep. Pitsch said when announcing his candidacy. “We’ve been able to speak for Fort Smith and have worked to make it and our regional partners relevant in Arkansas. I’m excited to move to the Senate and continue representing our community.”

The Times Record endorses Rep. Pitsch in his bid for state Senate District 8. It’s important that voters not allow the election confusion to muddy the waters on this decision. We believe his experience will lead our region to where it needs to be. After the embarrassment that our former state senator brought to the position, we hope our new state senator will bring integrity back to the position. We believe Rep. Pitsch will do just that.


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. May 15, 2018.

There’s been a good deal of ink and effort expended on this page lately to explain the benefits of choosing one candidate over another in Arkansas’ primary and non-partisan judicial election coming May 22. As useful as this information can be, there’s a bigger decision to be made: to actually show up and vote.

Don’t blow it off by thinking that one piddly little vote doesn’t matter. That was proven wrong on Dec. 19, when, according to the Washington Post, David E. Yancey appeared to win the Virginia House of Delegates race by 10 votes, but a recount put his opponent Shelly Simonds ahead by one vote. The next day a three-judge recount court ruled that a single ballot that had been discarded during the recount should be tallied for Yancey. The race was tied with each candidate having 11,608 votes. A random drawing was held to determine the winner. Simonds lost.

OK, that argument’s out of the way. Let’s move past discussing whether to vote to talk about when to vote.

Plenty of voters like to do their civic duty on an official Election Day. They enjoy seeing their neighbors, watching the displays (at a proper distance from the voting location) and banner-waving of those who are for and against assorted candidates and issues, and in general being a part of one of our country’s best and longest-held traditions.

Then there are others who take advantage of the option to vote early, which began a week ago and continues through May 21. There’s a lot to recommend this approach. Parking at the designated early voting locations (a list of those locations and their hours of operation can be found at votepulaski.net) is easier. Election workers are pleasant and helpful when they’re dealing with a trickle of voters throughout an early voting day instead of an outpouring that tends to show up on Election Day, especially during peak times like before and after work.

Since there tends to be less pressure, early voters can slow down and consider their choices. When they’re finished, they get a cute sticker that says I Voted Early (good for gaining the upper hand in the smug factor at work and elsewhere).

And the best part: It’s over and done with. All that’s left is to sit back and wait for results.

Either option is the best option. Staying away? That’s not the right choice. So just do it. Get out and vote.

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