Most people can’t run for more than one state or local office, but a new opinion from the Office of the Attorney General of Arkansas says that restriction does not apply to school district board candidate elections.
by Mark White, APSRC Legal Director
Now that school board elections are to be conducted on the same day as the primary or general election, may a school board candidate simultaneously run for another office during that same election? The Attorney General recently issued an official opinion finding that yes, a candidate may simultaneously file and run for both school board and another for another elected office.
Back in 2013, the Legislature approved a law prohibiting individuals from simultaneously running for more than one state or county office at the same time. So, for example, that 2013 law made it illegal for a candidate to file and run for both the Legislature and the Quorum Court in the same election. And then last February, the Legislature approved Act 158 of 2017 to extend that prohibition to “district” and “township” offices. Since school board members are elected to serve school districts, there was some question as to whether Act 158 would apply to school board candidates.
Senator Larry Teague asked Attorney General Leslie Rutledge to answer this question, and in an official Opinion issued on December 13, the Attorney General opined that the term “district” in Act 158 “does not include the office of school-district director.” Her reasoning was that school boards are treated differently in the law, because the Legislature has created election laws and eligibility requirements that apply only to school board candidates. She also cited Ark. Code Ann. § 6-14-101, which provides that “general election laws … apply to school elections insofar as they are not in conflict with the school election laws.”
So, in the opinion of the Attorney General, Act 158 does not prevent an individual from simultaneously filing and campaigning for both a local school board and another state or local office.