Early voting underway in Fayetteville special City Council election

Leslie Belden, Kristen Scott and Mike Wiederkehr

FAYETTEVILLE — Early voting is underway for the Feb. 8 special City Council election.

The election will decide who will fill the Ward 2 vacancy left by Matthew Petty.

Three people filed for the unexpired open seat, including Leslie Belden, Kristen Scott and Mike Wiederkehr.

Meet the Candidates

The following candidates are running for the open Ward 2 seat in the Feb. 8 special election. All candidates were sent a request for more information about their candidacy. Responses are posted in alphabetical order.

Belden is a local business owner, pastor and member of the Fayetteville Planning Commission. Scott is a lifelong educator and 35-year resident of Fayetteville. Wiederkehr is also a Planning Commissioner, and has 32 years of municipal government experience.

Registered voters who live in Ward 2 can cast early votes between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Feb. 7 at the County Clerk’s Office in the Washington County Courthouse. The courthouse will be closed over the weekend.

Petty, who was the council’s longest-serving member, resigned in October.

The council had two options for replacing Petty, whose term wasn’t set to expire until the end of 2024.

When a council seat is vacated, state law requires the remaining council members to either appoint a new member to serve the remainder of the term or to call for a special public election. An option must be chosen at the first regular meeting after the occurrence of the vacancy.

The council voted 7-0 to call a special election.

A new state law only allows special elections to be held in Arkansas on the second Tuesday of either February, May, August or November in a non-presidential election year, which means Feb. 8 was the first opportunity for a special election.

If necessary, a runoff election will be held Tuesday, March 8.

In Arkansas, if a single candidate does not win a majority of the votes when more than two candidates are up for election, the two people with the most votes head to a runoff unless the leading candidate receives more than 40% of the votes and is ahead of the runner-up by 20%.

Ward 2, which is typically associated with the downtown and Dickson Street areas, includes portions of the University of Arkansas campus and stretches west past Garland Avenue to Asbell Elementary School, and north to the Washington County Fairgrounds. The ward also includes the businesses along College Avenue in midtown, and many historic districts including Wilson Park.

Feb. 8 Special Election Day voting centers

Registered voters who live in Ward 2 can vote at any of the following voting centers from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 8.

  • Central United Methodist Church – 6 W. Dickson St. in Fayetteville
  • Sang Avenue Baptist Church – 1425 N. Sang Ave. in Fayetteville
  • Sequoyah Methodist Church – 1910 Old Wire Road in Fayetteville
  • Trinity Methodist Church – 1021 W. Sycamore St. in Fayetteville
  • The Awakening Church – 5763 E. Mission Blvd. in Fayetteville
  • Elkins Community Center – 162 Doolin Drive in Elkins
  • Elmdale Baptist Church – 1700 W. Huntsville Road in Springdale
  • First Church of the Nazarene – 2300 S. 40th St. in Springdale
  • Sonora Baptist Church – 17330 U.S. 412 in Springdale