HOT SPRINGS – The field of 2022 gubernatorial candidates increased this week after Anthony Bland announced on Wednesday he would run for the Democratic nomination for governor.
The Fayetteville native who is a minister and works as a teacher for the Little Rock School District made his announcement at Webb Center, a community outreach organization working with underserved predominantly Black populations in the Hot Springs area.
Bland, who lives in Little Rock and is 42, is the fourth Democrat to announce a gubernatorial candidacy. Chris Jones, the former executive director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, announced earlier this month that he would seek the Democratic nomination for governor.
James “Rus” Russell, small business owner and businesswoman Supha Xayprasith-Mays has also announced campaigns in a race that has already garnered national attention after Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former House press secretary Blanche in the Trump administration, announced her candidacy for the Republican Nomination in January.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge de Maumelle also announced his campaign for the Republican nomination. Libertarian Ricky Dale Harrington Jr. launched his campaign in the spring.
Improving education in the state will be a pillar of Bland’s campaign platform, the educator, with a doctorate in business administration, said in his announcement speech.
“My story is founded on a set of values that I grew up on,” Bland said. “The American dream of too many Arkansans right now is too far out of reach. Opportunities are hard to come by no matter how hard you work. For too long our leaders have put politics before people.”
Bland said his political ideas centered on improving infrastructure and affordable and accessible health care.
“What we need are policies that ensure everyone is treated fairly,” he told a crowd of around 20 at the community center. “We need to create jobs right here in Arkansas, from the Ozarks to the Delta.”
“We need to create opportunities for our state that will keep families here,” Bland said. “We need a real investment in education that will support all students.
This is not Bland’s first foray into politics.
In 2018, he ran for the Arkansas secretary of state, later switching races to fight for the lieutenant governor.
“I was raised to believe that you are supposed to love your neighbor,” Bland said Wednesday. “The democracy that our ancestors fought so hard to make a reality is on a destructive path to dictatorship by various elected officials.
“This is our day, our hour, our second, our time to stand up for education, for health care, to stand up for jobs that are accessible to all members of our communities,” said Bland. “Defend a living wage, defend community justice and restoration, civil justice and equality for all.”
Democratic candidates hailed Bland’s entry.
“I applaud those who want to serve the public,” Xayprasith-Mays said. “I encourage an open discussion that brings people together. More people in the race facilitate a full-scale discussion of the challenges facing the Arkansans.”
Russell said he was “encouraged” by the number of Democratic candidates who are launching campaigns.
“I can’t wait to talk more with him [Bland] on the track and see which policies are successful and engage voters, ”said Russell. “We have good candidates who represent a wide range of backgrounds, ideas and ideologies, so for me this can only benefit our state by giving people more choices on the move. before.”
Jones’ campaign spokesperson Abby Anderson said by email that Jones “welcomes the candidates to the race” and “looks forward to winning the Democratic nomination by listening to the people and sharing her vision for doing moving forward Arkansas which includes building an economy that works for all Arkansans. “
Bland said he is aware of the challenges ahead in a predominantly Republican state and hopes to work with all parties to represent the interests of voters rather than politicized issues.
“I can talk to anyone, regardless of their political views or status,” Bland said. “I am here for the people, not for political gain.”
Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson, who has held the post since 2015, is not eligible for re-election under the state’s term limit amendment.
The filing period is from February 22, 2022 to March 1, 2022.
The primary election is scheduled for May 24, according to the secretary of state’s office. Party candidates face off in November. The term of office is four years. The governor, with a salary of $ 154,115, is the highest paid constitutional officer in the state.