I’m Mark Kinion, and I’d like to tell you the story of my Fayetteville Values.
I have deep roots here in Northwest Arkansas. My family has lived here for six generations, and I grew up on a small farm near Prairie Grove. I wasn’t fond of farm duties, but they taught me the value of hard work.
We didn’t have a lot of money back then. As kids, we had to wait for the school bus in a ditch that had red clay. When we got to school, the new teacher scolded us for the mess the mud had made under our desks. For the first time, I felt ashamed of being a country kid. But from that experience, I learned how to stand up for families like mine who were less fortunate. To treat everyone with dignity, no matter their background.
As a child, I practically grew up on the Buffalo River. That’s where I learned the value of protecting the environment, including our waterways so that our families’ families can enjoy them too.
Neither of my parents graduated high school, but they wanted to make sure we had a good education. Public schools allowed me to be where I am today, and I still believe in supporting public education, so that everyone can have the same opportunity I had.
My mother opened the first private kindergarten in Prairie Grove because she knew the value of early childhood education. And she passed on those values to me. That was nearly six decades ago, and the kids she taught have done well throughout their lives.
As for my dad, I really got to know him well while becoming an Eagle Scout. I also learned the importance of community service. As my Eagle Scout project, I started a food drive during the holidays in Prairie Grove through the alliance of local pastors. It continued on for many years.
When it came time to go to college, I went to the University of Arkansas on scholarships. I was too poor to live on campus, but I made sure I was involved in the community. As a student, I first learned how to be a progressive activist.
When I came out as gay to my family, it wasn’t always easy. Growing up in a rural community, I’d been bullied and harassed from a young age for being different. But I had a big brother who was always there to take up for me. In turn, I’ve spent my life taking up for other people by fighting for equality.
I had a lot of protectors growing up. And I want to be there to protect our state, regardless of where you were born, who you love, or the color of your skin. I want to be the person that helps offer opportunities to others in our state. I have a strong, hopeful vision for Arkansas, one with more opportunities and inclusion for all.
That’s why I’m running for State Representative. Arkansas needs someone who represents these Fayetteville Values.
Vote May 22. Democratic Primary.