As US Congressional candidate Hayden Shamel visits Hope next week for a campaign rally at Hope's Fair Park Community Center, it will be a homecoming of sorts for the former UA-Hope English instructor, who taught there from 2008 to 2011.
As US Congressional candidate Hayden Shamel visits Hope next week for a campaign rally at Hope’s Fair Park Community Center, it will be a homecoming of sorts for the former UA-Hope English instructor, who taught there from 2008 to 2011.
Shamel, who is running as a Democrat, is seeking to unseat incumbent District Four Congressman Bruce Westerman (R-Hot Springs). Shamel ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and faces Westerman in November’s General Election. Her rally, which will include an Ice Cream social, in Hope is scheduled for Tuesday, July 17, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
“For far too long, the voices of small town Arkansas have been ignored. As a former faculty member at UACCH, I am thrilled to be back in Hope next week to talk with folks about the needs of the people of Hempstead County and South Arkansas and how together we will create a better tomorrow for all our children,” Shamel said in a statement to the Hope Star Monday night.
While in Hope, Shamel, then known as Hayden Clem, won the Outstanding Faculty Award as awarded by the Arkansas Association of Two Year Colleges in 2011. Since that time, she moved on to Hot Springs, got married, had a baby girl, and now teaches at Lakeside High School.
As published in the Hope Star, her 2011 award announcement noted, “The 2011 Outstanding Faculty member is Hayden Clem, an English Instructor at UACCH. She has excelled in the classroom and works diligently to fulfill the vision of UACCH. She has excelled in her ability to help students expand their knowledge and educational experience at UACCH. Clem has exemplified the difference one can make in the lives of those around them. UACCH is pleased to recognize Hayden Clem as the Outstanding Faculty member.”
Shamel actually grew up in nearby Texarkana, where she got both her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in English at Texas A& M University at Texarkana, and she taught at both Arkansas High School (2008-2009) and Fouke High School (2003-2008).
Melinda Smith, also a teacher at Lakeside with Shamel, joined on as Shamel’s campaign manager and said “Getting to know Hayden over the years and watching her devotion to the cause of working families and minority populations, inspired me not only to support her campaign financially but to work alongside her. For the first time in a long time, I feel empowered. I feel like I have a voice that matters. I have made new friends that have become like family. Since joining the campaign as a volunteer, I am convinced that the power of the people is greater than that of those in power in DC.”
Shamel’s campaign stop in Hope marks her latest many travels in the district, where she has already visited places like Arkadelphia and Magnolia.
“We have had over 75 events criss-crossing 30 counties so far. It is so inspiring to see the college students, teachers, retirees, and people who have never gotten involved in politics before dedicating their time, talent, and hard earned treasure to Hayden’s candidacy,” Smith said Monday night.
As southwestern Arkansas has shown itself to be a GOP stronghold in recent years, Shamel has a decidedly formidable task in unseating Westerman, who breezed to a GOP primary win in May, and reportedly has a campaign war chest of nearly $1 million.
“We are extremely proud of the grassroots fundraising we have been able to do. Sixty-five percent of our funds are small donations that have come from people in Garland County. This just goes to show that all politics is local. Her supporters are all looking for someone who will look out for working families and who will fight to draw attention to the issues of rural healthcare, education, livable wages and opportunities to stay in the 4th district. Hence the Hashstag #ItsOurTomorrow!” Smith said.
“And when you compare that with Hayden's opponent, who is funded in great measure by out of state special interest PAC's, it just goes to show how broken and corrupt our campaign finance system really is. One of the many reasons why we need to elect everyday people like Hayden to office, so that our voices, not big money elites, are represented,” she said.
Shamel comes into the campaign with Westerman as the standing chair of the Democratic Party of Garland County, and her leadership is generally credited with increasing membership, fundraising, and community outreach rallies in that area of the state.
In Little Rock, State Democratic Chair Michael Gray said, “People have a choice this year, and Hayden is doing the work, visiting the district, listening to voters and giving them a real choice. In this year’s midterms, we’ve already seen across the county that anything can happen, so Hayden has a real good chance.”
“She is not a millionaire; she doesn’t have a million dollars in the bank, but then, most Arkansans don’t. People want someone who will listen to their concerns on wages, healthcare, education, and being a mom, a teacher, and resident of Arkansas, Hayden understands their concerns,” he said.