"I am still the Representative for Fulton, Baxter and Sharp Counties until the end of the year, and I am still doing my job. I'll be in Little Rock all week this week (week of Nov. 12)," Benedict, a Republican, said. "I have enjoyed representing this district, and feel I did a good job for the people. I hope he (Scott Baltz) doesn't forget about the people here."
Pocahontas resident Baltz, a Democrat who won the District 61 seat, was picking up his political signs in Salem on Thursday, Nov. 8, planning an early morning drive to the state capitol on Nov. 9 for an orientation session for newly elected Representatives.
"I'm really excited about representing the people of Randolph, Sharp and Fulton Counties," Baltz said. "I will represent all the citizens in my district, whether they voted for me or not, and I will work hard to earn their respect, earn their trust."
Baltz won the seat by 247 votes by taking about 70 percent of the vote in Randolph County, his home base.
In Fulton County, five new county officials will take over in January.
Seth Jones, a former sheriff's deputy from Viola, campaigned relentlessly, and won the race for county Treasurer by a 708 vote margin over Kristina Henkels of Cherokee Village, who touted her experience in accounting and bookkeeping as she campaigned. Jones will replace Donna Hall, who did not seek re-election.
Michalle Watkins' name was not on the November ballot, but she will become Fulton County Tax Collector in the new year. Watkins, a longtime collector's office employee, will replace Calvin "Buster" Smith who retired last fall. Watkins had no Democratic opponent in the May Primary, and she had no opponent in the General Election, since no Republican filed for the office.
There will be three new members on Quorum Court in 2013.
Burton Yarnell, a Democrat, won the District 3 Justice of the Peace seat, capturing 61 percent of the vote. Yarnell will replace JP Jim Bicker who is stepping down after many years in office.
Mark Guffey, who ran as an Independent, defeated incumbent JP David Cunningham in District 7, winning 60 percent of votes in the district.
"I'm excited to be on Quorum Court, and proud to help the community," Guffee, a pharmacist said. "The main reason I ran is to help the county deal with its budget problems. I have a lot of experience meeting budgets, while running a business."
Johnny Moody, who won a May Primary race against Guy Smith and had no opponent in the General Election, will take the District 5 JP seat. Michael Roork did not run for re-election.
Incumbents Cris Newberry, Lynn Guffey, Michael Barnett and Marjorie Rogers all won re-election, but there were a couple of close races. Rogers won by just 21 votes over Independent candidate Larry Rynes, while Barnett won by just 35 votes over Republican Gary Phillips.
"This was probably the best Republican effort in Fulton County ever," said George Wiggam, the Fulton County Republican Party Chairman. "Democrat JP candidates aren't used to campaigning much, but we made them work this time to get elected."
Republicans fielded four candidates for JP seats and a candidate for Treasurer, as well as Lori Benedict's campaign for re-election.
"This is still primarily a Democratic county, obviously, but we (Republicans) attracted a respectable number of votes, and we will keep recruiting good candidates and working to get our views out there."
Fulton County had one of its best voter turnouts in years, as 4,418 votes were cast, out of 6,522 registered voters -- a 67.74 precent turnout.
In Izard County, there was a turnout of nearly 70 percent, which may be a record.
Izard County voters helped hometown boy, Tommy Wren, win re-election to the District 62 House Seat. He took 60 percent of the Izard County vote.
Three county officials with opponents won re-election -- Sheriff Tate Lawrence, Treasurer Nancy Pratt and Assessor Tammy Sanders.
In Quorum Court races, District 5 incumbent John David Miller won re-election, Bill Savell was elected to the District 7 seat, and former District 8 JP David Boren made a comeback, getting back into office by winning 53% of the vote against David Watts.
In Horseshoe Bend races, City Recorder Michelle Grabowski was re-elected. James Davis, Harold Faigle, Nicki West, Marty McKnight and Ronald Yow were elected to city council seats.
"It was really exciting to see so many people excited about the election," said Fulton County Election Sheriff, Kathy Portwood, who worked the poll at the Morriston Fire Department. "We had people lined up to vote most of the day. We had a lot of young people. I liked to see that."
Poll workers put in a long day, arriving at their precincts before 7:00 a.m., and working until at least 8:00 p.m., packing up and getting results back to courthouses.
"We are not allowed to give our opinions (at the polls), but we certainly heard a lot of opinions from voters, as they waited in line discussing who they were going to vote for," Carl Portwood, Kathy's husband, said laughing. "It makes the time go by faster when there is a good turnout and a lot of people are coming and going."