Wednesday, March 29, 2006

TOP STORY >> Candidates continue to file

Leader staff writer

Rep. Will Bond, D-Jacksonville, filed Monday for re-election in Dist. 56.
The lawmaker said his top priority would be trying to make sure that senior citizens can live in their homes as long as possible.

“I want to incentivize by providing in-home services,” he said. “Its cheaper to live at home, and everybody wants to live out their lives in dignity at home, not in a skilled nursing home.”

Bond, who will be term limited at the end of the next term if he’s reelected, lost his bid to be speaker of the House earlier this year to Rep. Benny Petrus, D-Stuttgart.

Bond said he also wants to make sure that the transitional housing funds for the state Correction Department are used to help ensure that inmates are ready before being put back into society. “We need to work on the recidivism rate,” said Bond.
Finally, he said he’d like to see the state working aggressively to help small businesses offer health care to workers.

“We talk a lot about business, but not small business,” he said. “That’s the engine that drives the nation and Arkansas.”
He said a relatively high percentage of Arkansas businesses employing more than 100 provide health care, but a low percentage of smaller businesses do.

“That’s a big issue,” said Bond. “I hope we can focus on that.”
In other state offices, no one has filed in Senate Dists. 28 and 29 for seats held by Democrats Bobby Glover of Carlisle and John Paul Capps of Searcy, or in House Dist. 48, held by Susan Schulte, R-Cabot.

House Dist. 15 Rep. Lenville Evans, D–Lonoke, and Dist. 43 Rep. Jeff Wood, D-Sherwood, both filed March 21.
Ricky Thomas, R-Judsonia, filed March 21 for the House Dist. 49 seat held by Rep. Mark Pate, D-Bald Knob.

Lonoke County Prosecutor Lona McCastlain has announced her intention to run for a fourth term, but unlike her opponent Tim Blair, she had not made the trip to Little Rock to file.

Blair, a Democrat filed March 21. McCastlain, a Republican, said Tuesday afternoon that the April 4 deadline is still days away so she still has time.

“I’m pretty busy here,” she said. “I will file before the deadline, but work is work.”
Prosecutors and circuit judges don’t file at the county clerk’s office like city and county candidates do. They file with the secretary of state.

McCastlain is in her eighth year in office. In 1998, she defeated Barbara Elmore, who had been a deputy prosecutor, by one vote. Two years later, she defeated Elmore again by a wider margin.

When state law changed prosecutors’ terms in office from two years to four, McCastlain ran unopposed for her third term.
The state is divided into 23 judicial districts. Most are made up of more than one county, but Lonoke, the 23rd Judicial District, stands alone.

In the 17th Judicial District, made up of White and Prairie counties, Prosecutor Chris Raff, a Democrat, filed March 24. No other candidate has announced for that office. In the 6th Judicial District, made up of Pulaski and Perry counties, Prosecutor Larry Jegley filed March 25.

Circuit judges were elected for four-year terms until four years ago, when the terms were changed to six years. Now most circuit judges across the state have two years left before they have to run again to keep their jobs. Attorney General Mike Beebe of Searcy, a Democrat, filed for governor Tuesday. He will oppose Republican Asa Hutchinson of Fort Smith.
Republican Tom Formicola of Little Rock filed Monday to run for the 2nd District congressional seat, setting up a GOP primary race for the seat held by Democratic Rep. Vic Snyder, who filed last week.

Formicola, a health care executive, joins Republican Andy May-berry of Hensley in the May 23 primary. Mayberry filed last week.