Fort Smith school board to have three new members, 3 of 4 incumbents re-elected

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 3,538 views 

There will be three new faces on the seven-person Fort Smith Public School Board. The unofficial election Tuesday (May 24) results from the Sebastian County Clerk showed all but one of the incumbents seeking reelection to the board were successful.

Board member Troy Eckelhoff, who was first elected in 2021, was defeated by Phillip Whiteaker for the Zone 1 seat. Board member Dalton Person, was was first elected to the board in 2020, defeated Tara Mendoza by a wide margin to remain on the board in the Zone 5 seat. Board member Dee Blackwell, also first elected to the board in 2020, narrowly held on to retain the Zone 3 seat. Board member Matt Blaylock, elected to the board in 2021, was re-elected to the At-Large Zone 1 seat.

Board member Talicia Richardson was unopposed in her bid to retain the Zone 4 seat.

Sandy Dixon, who has been critical of school district administration and in March notified the district her construction company, Turn Key, would no longer bid for school projects, won the Zone 2 position.

Following are the vote percentages in the contested school board races.
Zone 1
Board Member Troy Eckelhoff: 45.15%
Phillip Whiteaker: 54.85%

Zone 2
Brittney Hall: 44.02%
Sandy Dixon: 55.98%

Zone 3
Board Member Dee Blackwell: 50.92%
Ryan Goodwin: 49.08%

Zone 5
Board Member Dalton Person: 61.04%
Tara Mendoza: 38.96%

At-Large 1
Board Member Matt Blaylock: 60.66%
Madeline Marquette: 39.34%

At-Large 2
Taylor Fretheim Chase: 42.04%
Davin Chitwood: 57.96%

The FSPS board voted in the fall to hold elections in May for all seven board seats following remapped zones based on the 2020 census.

The school board approved a new zone map with five single-membered and two at-large positions for school board representatives based on the 2020 census data. Not all of the seven seats will be for the same term length. Though all seats will eventually have a five-year term, as opposed to the three-year terms they had before, a straw vote will be held inJune after the election results are certified to determine the length of each seat’s term (one, three or five years) in order for elections of the positions to be staggered. Each of the new zones have approximately 18,200 residents.

Susan McFerran, the board president and the Zone 2 representative, and Yvonne Keaton-Martin, the Zone 4 representative, did seek reelection to their positions.