Thursday, May 13, 2010

TOP STORY>> Cabot is new campaign hot spot

IN SHORT: Wooldridge visits, as do two others in the First District race.

By Jeffrey Smith
Leader staff writer

Former state Sen. Tim Wooldridge of Paragould is one of several Democrats who want to represent the First District in Congress.

He made a campaign stop Tuesday in Cabot and told supporters that he is an experienced legislator who would best represent the people of the district.

“I feel compelled to offer someone that is real, that has raised a family, made house payments and car payments, and that represents Arkansas values in Washington,” Wooldridge told The Leader in an interview.

Wooldridge and state Sen. Bobby Glover (D-Carlisle), who is term limited, were guests of Cabot Rotarian Bill O’Brien at the club’s noon meeting Tuesday at Colton’s Steak House and Grill.

Several Democrats and Republicans are running in the First District since Rep. Marion Berry of Gillett announced in January that he won’t be running for re-election.
Other Democrats running in the May 18 primary are state Sen. Steve Bryle, state Rep. David R. Crook, Chad Causey, Terry G. Green and Ben Ponder.

Republican candidates are Rick Crawford and Princella Smith, who also campaigned in Cabot this week.

Wooldridge, 49, is the executive director of the Arkansas Association of Public Universities, a position he has held since August 2007. He divides his time between Paragould and Little Rock.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications-public relations from Arkansas State University.

“My emphasis will be to provide opportunities for job creation, which in my estimate is the best stimulus to build a strong economy,” Wooldridge said.

He added, “In Washington there is too much acrimony and gridlock.”

Wooldridge said he would work to find real solutions to the challenges of the nation. He plans to create real jobs, to be fiscally responsible and have conservative values.
“We can’t keep compromising our future with massive debt,” Wooldridge said.

If elected to Congress, Wooldridge said he won’t live in Washington but will continue living in the First District, so the voices and concerns of the people will be heard.
“I recognize the importance of the presence of this part of the district and I will maintain a congressional office in Cabot,” he said.

Wooldridge said Cabot will continue to grow, and he will respond to the challenges and meet the needs of the community. He would be in the Cabot office regularly, he said.
Wooldridge said one of his goals if elected to Congress is to strengthen the infrastructure in the district.

He said he will work on building the north interchange in Cabot and extend the widening of Hwy. 5 to four lanes to El Paso.

He said he wants to expand educational and broadband opportunities to improve more communities.

Wooldridge said he has a background in farming and is supportive of agriculture. He was raised in the 1960s and 1970s on his family’s 600-acre farm near Paragould. The family grew cotton, rice, beans and milo.

His son-in-law, Dustin Jackson and his family, are farmers in southeastern Missouri, where they grow approximately 4,500 acres of cotton.

Wooldridge was in the state legislature for 16 years. He was a state representative from 1991 to 1998. He was in the state Senate from 1999 to 2006.

He was chair of the Revenue and Taxation Committee and he was chair of the Legislative Council.

Wooldridge served on the Agriculture, Economic and Industrial Development Com-mittee, the Joint Committee on Energy, Joint Budget Committee and the Efficiency Committee.
Before Wooldridge worked for the Arkansas Association of Public Universities, he was vice president for Institutional Advancement-Legislative Affairs at the Arkansas Methodist Medical Center Foundation in Paragould for seven years. Wooldridge was the vice president of development at Crowley’s Ridge College for seven years.

Wooldridge is a graduate of Greene County Tech High School. He and his wife, Lisa, have two children, Jeremy and Tiffany.