Fort Smith native James “Jay” Richardson said his 24 years of living outside of Fort Smith and Arkansas will be an advantage if elected to the District 78 seat of the Arkansas House of Representatives.
Richardson, 46, has announced for the seat which covers a portion of Fort Smith and Sebastian County. Rep. George McGill, D-Fort Smith, now holds the job but has announced he is running for mayor of Fort Smith. Mayor Sandy Sanders is not running for re-election. His second four-year term ends Dec. 31, 2018.
“I think that’s a benefit from being outside the state and having some fresh perspectives on what is going on,” Richardson, who is running as a Democrat, told Talk Business & Politics.
Richardson attended Fort Smith public schools and graduated from Northside High School. He received an associate degree from then Westark Community College – now University of Arkansas at Fort Smith – and attended Southern Arkansas University. He received a bachelor’s degree from John Brown University.
His wife Talicia is a member of the Fort Smith Public School Board, and they have two children. Richardson works with the Fort Smith Boys and Girls Club, volunteers in the Fort Smith public schools, and the Future School of Fort Smith, and participates with the Fort Smith Round Table.
When they decided to return to Fort Smith, Richardson said he and his wife made a commitment to get involved “and try to make a difference.”
“I want to run for this office to not only give back to the community I live in, but be involved in the process to create and change legislation that impacts the people of Arkansas and more importantly the people of Fort Smith,” Richardson noted in his announcement statement. “My hope is to focus and improve poverty and homelessness. This is a statewide issue and a huge challenge and opportunity for District 78. I also want to continue the positive work that is taking place in elementary education.”
He works as a consultant with Centuria Ventures, an investment firm owned by Steve Clark, who owns Fort Smith-based Propak and is founder of The Unexpected Project. Richardson said he works to identify areas in which Centuria “can help grow the Northside and downtown area … and where it makes sense to grow the city as a whole.”
Richardson said the District 78 position was an area of service he thought might be a good fit. When McGill announced his mayoral pursuit, he spent time with McGill to learn more about what legislative service entailed.
Following are the announced candidates and/or incumbents in the Senate and House seats which include a portion of the Fort Smith metro.
• Arkansas Senate
Sen. Gary Stubblefield, R-Branch (incumbent)
candidate Rep. Mat Pitsch, R-Fort Smith
Incumbent Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith, is not running for re-election
Sen. Terry Rice, R-Waldron (incumbent)
• Arkansas House
Rep. Jon Eubanks, R-Paris (incumbent)
candidate Lee Johnson (R)
Incumbent Rep. Charlotte Douglas, R-Alma, is not seeking re-election
candidate Kelly Proctor-Pierce (R)
Incumbent Rep. Mat Pitsch, R-Fort Smith, is seeking the District 8 Senate seat
Rep. Justin Boyd, R-Fort Smith (incumbent)
candidate Jay Richardson (D)
Incumbent Rep. George McGill, D-Fort Smith, is running for Fort Smith mayor
Rep. Gary Deffenbaugh, R-Van Buren (incumbent)
Rep. Charlene Fite, R-Van Buren (incumbent)
Rep. Bruce Coleman, R-Mountainburg (incumbent)