Fort Smith director elections move to November; George Catsavis seeks re-election

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 525 views 

Fort Smith municipal elections will be different from in years past thanks to a law – Act 328 – passed in the 2023 Arkansas General Assembly. The new process pushes the filing period later in the year with director elections on the November general election ballot.

In the past, elections under the city administrator form of government, which Fort Smith is, were different from other forms of government, said Sherri Gard, Fort Smith city clerk. The filing period was in May. If more than two candidates filed for one position, a primary election was held in August. If no candidate had a clear majority in the primary, then the top two candidates would move onto the general election in November, essentially for the runoff.  If only two candidates filed, they automatically went to the general election.

Under the new law, in the city administrator form of government, candidates will fall in line with all other forms of government whereby the filing period is later in the year and no primary is held, Gard said. The city director candidate filing period this year is July 31 to noon on Aug. 7.

All candidates go directly to the general election in November. The general election is Nov. 5. If no candidate obtains a clear majority, the top two candidates for the position will then go to the runoff election in December, which will be held on Dec. 3 this year.

This year, the four ward positions – Positions 1-4 – on the Fort Smith Board of Directors are up for election. Those positions are held by Jarred Rego, Ward 1 (serving his first term); André Good, Ward 2 (first elected to the board in 2008); Lavon Morton, Ward 3 (first appointed to the position in April 2019); and George Catsavis, Ward 4 (first elected in 2010).

Candidates for the Fort Smith Board of Directors must be at least 21, a registered voter in Fort Smith, must have been a resident for at least six months prior to filing, and reside within the ward in which they are a candidate.

Fort Smith City Director George Catsavis

Catsavis has already announced he will seek re-election.

“I will continue to represent the citizens of Ft Smith as I have for the last 14 years. We have faced many challenges over the years, but I believe the future of Fort Smith is important to all of us. Job growth, cost of living, and a safe city are essential to promoting a good quality of life for all of us,” Catsavis said in his re-election announcement.

Catsavis, 69, was first elected to the board in 2010 to fill a partial term left vacant when Bill Maddox resigned from the board. He is serving his third full term on the board.

Catsavis did not face an opponent in 2020. None of the four candidates who filed for the four open positions on the Fort Smith Board of Directors in 2020 faced an opponent in the election, and all were certified by the Sebastian County Election Commission and declared the winners in each of their respective seats June 1, 2020.

In 2016, Catsavis beat challenger Neal Martin, garnering 5,559 votes to Martin’s 4,381. Martin was elected to the director-at-large Position 7 seat in 2018 and won his re-election bid in 2022.

“I have always made my decisions on what is best for the people and how my vote would impact them. Look at my voting record. I  never voted for more taxes or more regulations for businesses,” Catsavis said. “I believe the people deserve someone who looks out for them, and that’s exactly what I have done. I will continue to do so.”