With just 1,617 votes cast, incumbent Fort Smith School Board member Bill Hanesworth lost his reelection bid to Matt Blaylock. Blaylock, president of Blaylock Heating & Air Conditioning & Plumbing Services, captured 63.4%, or 1,027 votes.
Hanesworth, who is the board president, and Blaylock were the only contested race – an At-Large position – of the three seats up for election in Tuesday’s (May 18) school elections. The other positions up for reelection were Wade Gilkey (Zone 1) and Yvonne Keaton-Martin (Zone 4).
No opponent filed to run against Keaton-Martin, who was first elected in 2003. Gilkey did not seek reelection, and Troy Eckelhoff was the only candidate to file for the Zone 1 seat. A graduate of Northside High School, Eckelhoff is program director and music director at KTCS 99.9 radio in Fort Smith.
Hanesworth, Chief Operating Officer at Littlefield Oil Co. and former manager of the Rheem plant in Fort Smith, was elected to his at large-seat in 2015. Blaylock’s wife is a teacher, his mother taught in the district and his sister and brother-in-law teach in Arkansas.
“It’s the end of the beginning. Now the real work starts. I’m humbled and honored and thankful for all who supported me. It’s really tough in a special election. I learned a lot along the way. I guess I have a meeting to go to Monday night, and we’ll get after it,” Blaylock told Talk Business & Politics after the results were posted.
Hanesworth was contacted for comment and this story will be updated if he responds.