Three local individuals, all first time candidates, announced their entries into various races this week, and all challenging existing incumbent office holders.

Three local individuals, all first time candidates, announced their entries into various races this week, and all challenging existing incumbent office holders.
For Hempstead County Judge, Hope’s Allen Flowers announced his candidacy Tuesday, and joins an announced field that includes incumbent Haskell Morse, former Sheriff Jerry Crane, and a former City of Hope employee, Ken Harvel of Spring Hill.
For Hempstead Justice of Peace in District 7, businessman Steve Atchley announced his entry into the race Monday morning. The incumbent in District 7 is first-term Justice, Mikki Curtis.
For Hope School District, Nicholas Ward, also a City of Hope employee, said he is running for School Board Trustee in District 6, which is the seat currently held by Kathryn Coleman Dickinson of Guernsey. Dickinson was appointed to the seat last fall after the death of her Denver L. “Denny” Dickinson, who served 15 years in the position.
A short profile of each individual follows:

FLOWERS
Allen Flowers, age 50, of Hope, is a retired Veteran with 24 years service in both the Navy and Army, where he served stateside as well as seeing combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. Currently, he is the sole announced Democrat in the race.
Flowers, who is also a member of the Hope Civitan Club and a deacon at the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, said “I am running because too many people in Hempstead County do not have a seat at the table, because too many opportunities are out there, and too many good voices are not being heard.”
Flowers, who has already assembled an election team, said he plans to “Go on tour throughout the county.”
“We are going to listen; the people are going to tell us what they want and what they expect out of county government. We are going to look at our county with a new set of eyes and open the doors for real opportunities for economic growth and progress.”
As far as the increasingly crowded field, Flowers said “That is a good thing as far as I am concerned. It gives the voters of our county increased choices, and it brings a new accountability to the race. I want to challenge the apathy and status quo that has been accepted for too long.”
Flowers has a diverse background, which includes a high school education in Union City, California, and college at the University of Memphis, in addition to his years of military service.
Flowers cited economic development opportunities as his main platform, where he believes Hope and Hempstead County can be a major transportation and healthcare center.  

ATCHLEY
Steve Atchley is known as owner of Inked Threads, a local printing company based in downtown Hope, and he has been active in public affairs at the city and county levels, often seen and speaking at public meetings.
Atchley said, “I was born and raised in Hempstead County, and I raised my family here in Hope.  I am a graduate of Hope High School.  After graduation, I attended Henderson State University and UA-Hope.”
Atchley currently serves as Chairperson of Hope Beautification Committee, and he has long been an advocate of downtown Hope, including membership in the Hope Downtown Network.
Atchley also touts his background in law enforcement.  He was previously with the Hope Police Department, where he started his career before moving on to the Hempstead County Sheriff’s Department.  He eventually joined the Arkansas Highway Patrol, serving as a supervisor, and he retired after 35 years of service.
“I’ve in this area when it was booming and prosperous.  I want to see it grow and become economically vibrant again. That is my main goal, and that is why I am running,” he said.
Having just retired from the State Police three years ago, Atchley said he could not run for local offices, while being a state employee. Now, retired and a local business owner, he felt now was the time to run.
Atchley said he has been concerned about the direction of both city and county affairs, and he said “We need economic development, and we need to be conservative in our approach to taxes and government spending at the local level.”

WARD
In announcing his candidacy for Hope School Board to the Hope Star, Nicholas Ward said “I have four kids in the school system now, and to me, it is time for a change; time for some new ideas to be heard.”
Ward, an employee of the City of Hope, said he is for better security at the schools, and he wants more technology in the classroom.
Ward said, “I was born and raised here in Hope, Arkansas and I'm a graduate of Hope High School. I'm currently going to UAHT, and I'm majoring in getting my Bachelor degree in science in Agriculture.”
Ward said, “Running for School Board is not a decision that I made lightly because I know it's going to take a lot of hard work. I'm excited and ready to learn. I have a lot of new and fresh ideas.”
Ward is a member of the First Baptist Church, and he has worked for the City of Hope the past five years.
Ward also cited his experiences in a variety of jobs, including manual labor, and he has worked a substitute teacher.
“In Prescott, I have mowed yards when I was younger, and I helped my uncle in the hay fields when I was a teenager. I have worked as a substitute teacher, and I have worked as a Nurses Aide at Prescott Manor,” he said.
Ward also said, “I’ve been married to my wife since 2009, and we have five kids total. Me and my wife are members of the Chamber of Commerce.”