Opponents emerge in new Arkansas House District 49 that includes parts of Fort Smith

by Michael Tilley ([email protected]) 1,056 views 

Rep. Jay Richardson, D-Fort Smith, will have at least one opponent in his re-election bid for the new Arkansas House District 49, which includes northern and eastern parts of Fort Smith. Republican Max Avery has announced for the post.

Richardson is seeking a third term in the House, and his first in the newly drawn district following the 2020 U.S. Census.

“I’m just excited to continue to serve. Even those the district has changed, I’m still focused on what’s best for Fort Smith,” Richardson said Tuesday.

Richardson, who is a business consultant and along with wife Talicia owns and manages the Prohibition Bar in downtown Fort Smith, announced Oct. 13 on Facebook his re-election bid.

“Through sponsorship and co-sponsorship of crucial legislation, my focus on each bill has always been my firm belief in helping those in need: those in need of a voice; those in need of a hand; those in need of positive change. During my first term in 2019, I co-sponsored legislation to help end child marriage and formally recognize the abuse and neglect of children as a public health problem. I also helped co-sponsor a bill to provide changes to Medicaid reimbursement rates to compensate for the minimum wage increase. During the regular session of 2021, I continued to advocate for the underserved in our state and our community through co-sponsoring legislation intended to prevent law enforcement from denying medical care to an individual in custody. I also co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to allow law enforcement to transport an individual to a sobering center rather than simply taking that individual to a detention facility,” Richardson noted in his Oct. 13 announcement.

New Arkansas House District maps in the Fort Smith area.

Avery is the founder of CDL Academy, a truck driver training program that “has trained hundreds of drivers in the River Valley area and placed them into jobs making well above the median income for our area.” He said the issue of education, which has become a politically charged national issue, as one of the reasons he chose to run for office.

“Politicians, bureaucrats, and teachers’ unions are ruining the foundations of our education system, and it’s time to give parents and classroom teachers more say in what is being taught,” he said in a statement. “I’ve always stood for a limited but effective government, and I’ve always stood for individual responsibility. I am convinced that most Americans today believe in individual liberty, and the right to choose what is best for them and their family is a fundamental value. I’m running because some politicians disagree with that assessment. I want voters to have a choice.”

Avery did say he changed his last name from Rodriguez to Avery, previously his middle name, because of “personal family stuff.”