Open Primaries group names committee members
Open Primaries Arkansas, a ballot question committee seeking to change state elections to open primaries with rank choice voting, has named committee members that include a former Speaker of the House.
The ballot measure, which would be an amendment to the Arkansas Constitution, submitted signatures to the Secretary of State’s office, but Secretary John Thurston ruled that the group did not properly provide background checks of paid canvassers. He summarily told the group that their petitions were invalid. A legal challenge to the Arkansas Supreme Court is underway.
If it does make the ballot and is approved by voters, the top four candidates in the primary election would advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation, with space for a write-in candidate provided. Voters would rank their preferences when they cast their ballots. If no candidate wins a majority, the last-place candidate is eliminated and his or her next choice is awarded the votes. The process continues until a candidate wins a majority.
The 10 newly-named committee members for Open Primaries Arkansas include:
Davy Carter is a former member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, representing District 43 from 2009 to 2015. He served as Speaker of the House from 2013 to 2014 and presided over the General Assembly when Republicans gained majority control for the first time since Reconstruction.
Steve Clark is the Founder and CEO of Propak, Inc. Since graduating from the University of Arkansas, Clark has made a name for himself in the business world as an entrepreneur for social change. In addition to Propak, Clark has ventures in construction, technologies and economic development. He dedicates his time to entrepreneurship in education and the arts as Founder and Board Chair of Future School of Fort Smith, the first tuition-free, public charter high school centered on a personalized and hands-on approach to learning via student-designed learning plans. He also is the Founder of The Unexpected, the award-winning contemporary art program in Fort Smith recognized by the Governor for Community Tourism Development and Community Arts Development.
State Rep. Dan Douglas
Chair of the Open Primaries Arkansas Ballot Question Committee, Representative Dan Douglas, R-Bentonville, is a cattle farmer. He is a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives and has served District 91 since 2013. He serves as Chairman of the House Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development Committee and also serves on the House Revenue and Taxation Committee and the Arkansas Legislative Council. Douglas did not seek re-election in 2020.
Susan Inman was Director of Elections for a former Arkansas Secretary of State, former member of the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners, founder and first president of the Arkansas County Election Commissions Association. She has volunteered with the U.S. Department of State as an international election observer, observing over a dozen elections in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Caucasus.
Miguel Lopez has a track record in community development which has led him to serve on several boards: Just Communities of Arkansas, Harmony Health Clinic, Museum of Discovery, Pulaski County Imagination Library, The Arkansas Repertory Theatre, UA Little Rock Alumni Association and Goodwill Industries of Arkansas. Lopez received both his bachelor’s and his master’s degrees from the University of Arkansas Little Rock.
Mike Malone has worked throughout his career to bring solutions to regional infrastructure, economic development and education challenges facing Northwest Arkansas. He’s currently serving as Vice President for Corporate and Community Affairs for the Runway Group. Prior to his current role, Malone served for more than a decade as President and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council.
Archie Schaffer, III
Archie Schaffer is a native Arkansan who was born in Fort Smith and raised in Charleston, Arkansas. Schaffer is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and worked for Tyson Foods, Inc. of Springdale for over 21 years, most recently as Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs. Since 2012, Schaffer has served as a consultant for Tyson Foods, Inc. and continues to serve on the board of directors of a number of civic and philanthropic organizations, including the UA Agricultural Development Council, the Northwest Arkansas Council, the board of the Jones Trust and the Jones Center for Families in NWA.
Mimi San Pedro
Mimi San Pedro is the Chief Strategy Officer for the Venture Center. She has over 30 years of experience across information, technology and strategic marketing industries. She served as the Chief Marketing Officer for NLC Products. She’s also held senior leadership roles at Hortus, Acxiom and ContourMed.
Sam Sicard is the CEO of First National Bank in Fort Smith. After graduating from the University of Arkansas, Sicard rose through the ranks at First National Bank until being named president and CEO of the bank and its holding company in 2011. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Fort Smith Boys and Girls Club. In 2013, Sicard was appointed by Governor Mike Beebe to the Vision 2025 Legislative Commission on the Future of Higher Education.
Emma Willis currently acts as Senior Strategist for Mangan Holcomb Partners/TeamSI and is responsible for providing strategic planning and counsel to ensure that clients in the government, financial and other sectors benefit from advancements in strategic data-driven marketing to meet their growth objectives. Before joining MHP/Team SI, Emma was with the Arkansas State Treasurer since 2009, starting as Marketing Director and in 2016 named Executive Director of 529 Plans and Financial Literacy.