Fort Smith, Arkansas’ second largest city by population, again has someone in the Arkansas Senate to represent its interests. Former Rep. Frank Glidewell was sworn in Monday (Aug. 27) morning to the Senate District 8 seat, ending more than 6 months without a senator from Fort Smith.
The seat was vacated Feb. 9 when Sen. Jake Files, R-Fort Smith, resigned. Files pleaded guilty Jan. 29 to federal charges including bank fraud, and is now serving an 18 month sentence at the El Reno federal prison near Oklahoma City.
Glidewell won the Aug. 14 special election to serve out the remainder of Files’ term. Glidewell captured 70.9% of the vote, with Libertarian candidate William Hyman receiving 29.05%.
Hyman and Rep. Mat Pitsch, R-Fort Smith, will face off in November for the regular term of the Senate seat. Pitsch defeated Glidewell in a June 19 special election primary that ended in an unofficial 84-vote winning margin for the Senate District 8 seat.
Gov. Hutchinson endorsed Pitsch in that race
“It was a good morning. I really enjoyed meeting with them (other Senators) … and most of them were old friends. Most of them come from the House, so it was just more of a reunion,” Glidewell said after being sworn in by Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Robin Wynne.
Glidewell also met briefly with Gov. Asa Hutchinson. During the runup to the June 19 special election, Hutchinson endorsed Pitsch over Glidewell. And prior to the May primary election in which the governor was challenged by Jan Morgan, Glidewell said he would vote for Morgan.
“I think it went real well. I feel like I’ve always been friends with the governor. We look at some things different. But I’m moving on. That election is over,” Glidewell said when asked if the meeting with the governor was awkward.
According to Glidewell, the conversation with Gov. Hutchinson included complimenting the governor on the Crisis Stabilization Unit that recently opened in Sebastian County that will those with substance abuse and/or mental health issues out of the general prison population. Glidewell said he told the governor he is opposed to more jail construction, and that more diversion programs are needed instead of sending non-violent offenders to jail.
Glidewell, 73, who will serve as Senator until Jan. 14, said the short term is likely his last foray into politics. Glidewell served two years as Sebastian County Judge, and 12 years as a member of the county’s Quorum Court. He also served 6 years in the Arkansas House
“I don’t think I’ll ever run again,” he said Monday.