Two Arkansans so far have announced their intention to run for Congress against Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman in the 4th District next year.

Tom Canada, 26, of Scranton has announced he is seeking the Libertarian Party nomination for the 4th District.

Hayden Shamel, a 36-year-old educator and chair of the Democratic Party of Garland County, also announced her candidacy Saturday during an event at the Farmers Market Pavilion in Hot Springs.

Canada, an employee of Stark Manufacturing in Paris, counts his main priorities as “working to correct current economic policy that over-regulates and damages the economy; working to bring an end to the numerous conflicts the United States has inserted itself into, and also working to bring an end to the involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, and throughout the world; and bringing about an audit of the federal reserve and working to bring back a system of sound money.”

“I am a big believer in a small, very limited government,” Canada says in a news release. “Our founders envisioned a system where the majority of the power rests with the individual states and the people. We have strayed so far from that vision. The things our government is doing and the power it has claimed as its own are dangers to the security and prosperity of this country. If we don’t work to correct it now, it will only get worse for future generations. “

In regard to major issues like healthcare, Canada said, “We hear candidates, like clockwork, promising to create more jobs and to make healthcare and education better and more affordable. But the reality is that government cannot do these things. It’s central planning and central planning doesn’t work. Just ask Venezuela. The best thing the government can do is to just get out of the way and let people do what they do best. It’s this process that allows people to be innovative, creative, and productive. It’s this process that made America what it is. “

Canada said “shrinking the size and scope of government” is his top priority, but that can not be done until monetary policy is addressed.

“Everything else hinges upon a system of sound money,” Canada wrote.

Shamel

At her campaign website, haydenforcongress.org, Shamel addresses platform issues of “jobs, healthcare, education, guns, senior hunger, student loan debt and social security.”

“Arkansas must attract new industries, create new jobs, and provide opportunities for existing employees to learn new skills and technologies,” Shamel states.

Shamel also addresses investment in “clean energy and a strong infrastructure,” and providing tax relief to small businesses “so that they can grow and thrive.”

However, Shamel says “our primary focus must be to make healthcare more affordable for Arkansas families.”

Shamel also promotes higher teacher salaries and “common sense” steps to reduce gun violence while protecting the right to bear arms. Senior hunger is also a top concern for Shamel, who points out that Arkansas ranks as one of the highest states in the nation for senior hunger and food insecurity.

“We must ensure that our most vulnerable are provided for and protected by strengthening food sustenance programs like the Older American Act Meal Program (OAAMP), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Meals on Wheels,” Shamel states.

When it comes to student loan debt, Shamel quotes “Americans now collectively owe over $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, and students are struggling to pay back loans while they look for work.”

“We must educate students and families about practical financial pathways to obtain a higher education that will not result in massive personal debt,” she states. “ We also must ensure that our colleges and universities serve as a valuable link between a student's education and the attainment of their first job — because the role of our educational institutions should not end at graduation.”

As for Social Security, Shamel says “Privatization is a risk we can't afford to take. We must fight to save and preserve social security as well as Medicare, the primary provider of healthcare coverage for over 50 million elderly Americans.”

Westerman

Westerman, 49 and the only forester in Congress, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013 after serving in the Arkansas House of Representatives. At his campaign website, BruceWesterman.com, the Congressman says “it is a privilege to fight to make government more fair to you, the hardworking Arkansas taxpayer, and create an environment where we can grow good-paying jobs for Arkansas workers.”

“Congressman Westerman is working everyday to represent the views and values of the hardworking Arkansans of the 4th District and his common sense approach to issues is resonating across our state," Jon Gilmore of Westerman’s campaign staff wrote in an email. "Congressman Westerman's work in a small business prepared him to represent the conservative values of his constituents. He is pleased to welcome anyone who wants to get involved in the political process and discuss the issues important to Arkansans.”

Westerman was born and raised in Garland County and graduated from Fountain Lake High School in Hot Springs before attending the University of Arkansas where he played football for the Razorbacks.

After graduating with a degree in Biological and Agricultural Engineering, he received his master's degree in forestry from Yale University.

For more than 22 years, Bruce worked in engineering and forestry at Mid-South Engineering in Hot Springs. He also served on the board of the Fountain Lake School District.

In 2010 he was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives. In 2012, he was elected by his peers as the House Minority Leader, and in 2013 became the first Republican House Majority Leader since Reconstruction. In the Arkansas legislature, Westerman worked to lower taxes, limit government, and promote family values, his campaign website states.

In Washington, Westerman currently serves on the Committee on the Budget, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Committee on Natural Resources, where he is the vice chair of the Federal Lands Subcommittee.