story and info compiled by Aric Mitchell
Editor’s note: Of the 32 legislative districts in the Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas areas, 15 are contested in the Nov. 6 general election. During the next few days, The City Wire will profile each contested race. Link here for information on the House and Senate districts in the two regions, and the associated candidates.
The race for Arkansas House of Representatives District 84 pits Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, against challenger Adella Gray (D). Gray said that, if elected, she would set education, job creation and balancing the budget as top priorities.
Gray added that she would "work with Gov. Beebe and across the aisle, to completely do away with the grocery taxes" and that she would "extend Medicaid so that over 200,000 more Arkansans have insurance coverage."
"I want to work with the Beebe Administration to continue to responsibly cut taxes, especially for the middle class. My opponent wants to cut taxes without regard for how the services would be provided for the people of Arkansas," Gray said.
These responses were part of a survey conducted by The City Wire in anticipation of the 15 contested state legislative races. Candidates were asked about the top issues in their district, legislative goals for the next term and why each believes they are the right candidate for the position. They were also asked to answer “Yes,” “No,” or “Don’t Know” to a range of issues likely to surface in the 2013-2014 General Assembly.
Gray's full, unedited responses are below. Collins chose not to participate.
• What are the top issues in your district?
The top issues in my district are: education, jobs and balancing the budget. I believe that education is the foundation for good jobs. As our education level increases, so will the good jobs in our region. It is important that we strengthen the community colleges and technical schools as well as the University. Of course Pre-K as well as K-12 must also be targets for improvement. Strengthening all these areas of education addresses the job issue in both short and long term. www.GraduateNWA.com is an excellent example of partnerships among five post secondary institutions; five area Chambers of Commerce; The Northwest Arkansas Council; as well as several corporate sponsors. The goal of this group is to improve our region’s college graduate percentage. Balancing the budget will be an ongoing everyday matter to be dealt with as we establish priorities for our limited resources. I look forward to being a part of that decision making process.
• What are your legislative goals for your next term if elected?
My Legislative Goals for the next legislative session are as follows; work with Governor Beebe and across the aisle, to completely do away with the grocery taxes; extend Medicaid so that over 200,000 more Arkansans have insurance coverage; strengthen the Arkansas Economic Development Commission in recruiting new companies to Arkansas to provide jobs; have an open mind as issues arise to provide opportunities for the people of Arkansas.
• Why do you think you are the best person to represent your district?
I think that I am the best person to represent my district because: I have an open mind to consider what is best for ALL the people of Arkansas – I have signed no “No New Tax” pledge for a person or organization who does not live in our state, but is just following a National Agenda to help the rich get richer and the poor to become poorer; I will work WITH the University of Arkansas Administration and Board and not try to question their authority by passing bills that are a part of a National Agenda – concealed weapons on campus; I have been a member of the Fayetteville City Council almost six years and have great experience working across the aisle to get things done for the city; as a lifelong educator and counselor, I know how to help people solve problems and work together to meet their highest potential – my opponent has the reputation for being one of the main obstructionist to an effort to strengthen the middle class; I want to work with the Beebe Administration to continue to responsibly cut taxes, especially for the middle class – my opponent wants to cut taxes without regard for how the services would be provided for the people of Arkansas.
YES-NO-DON’T KNOW RESPONSE - Gray
Each candidate was asked to provide a yes, no or don’t know response to the following four questions. Anything other than one of the three responses was not accepted.
• If budget conditions allow, would you vote for renewal of the Quick Action Closing Fund?
• Are you for the Nov. 6 ballot item that would raise the Arkansas sales tax rate by a half-cent (0.5%) to fund more than $1.8 billion in Arkansas road improvements during the next 10 years?
• Would you support tougher ethics laws for Arkansas Legislators?
• Would you support expansion of Arkansas’s Medicaid program using federal dollars as part of the new federal healthcare law?