LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The Hillcrest neighborhood is a pocket of progressive politics in a very red state.
A leading group brought back their annual candidate meet-and-greet Sunday. The Palm Street Progressives helped foster conversations as candidates and advocates look to build momentum into future elections. Their political gathering doubled as a street fair, complete with food trucks, live music and a bounce house for the kids.
Job security, economic advancement and even car break-ins are some just some issues candidates said they’re ready to tackle.
“We thought there would be a lot of political energy here and couple it with the thought of having a block party,” said Eric McDaniel.
Residents in the 500 block of Palm Street and others in the Hillcrest neighborhood started hosting the event six years ago. It’s a chance for neighbors to share opinions about what's going on in the city and surrounding areas. Those who come out get to ask candidates questions and become more familiar with the political process.
“The candidates seek out opportunities like this. The more hands they can shake the better,” McDaniel said.
Candidates running for positions like State Representative, Secretary of State and Mayor turned out for the party. For the most part, they shared concerns on similar issues like public safety, local control of the school district, and crime.
"I think it's really more about getting people active not only in the local races, but statewide races as well, and getting to the polls,” he added.
Health care, economic development and business growth were also topics of discussion. The progressive group hopes to encourage voter participation statewide and wants people to know that even in a very conservative state, every vote truly does count.
"I am a little concerned that people may not be as active as they should because they feel like our district is safe and that we're always going to have a progressive candidate. But it’s not just about Hillcrest or Little Rock, it's about the entire state,” McDaniel said.
There may 13 months until the next big election, but deadlines are coming up fast for these candidates. Judges and prosecutors have to start the process right at the first of the year. Filing for party elections comes up in February.