Saturday, May 15, 2010

TOP STORY > >Wooldridge: I can win

Former state Sen. Tim Wooldridge of Paragould is one of six Democrats in Tuesday’s primary running for Congress in the First District.

A run-off is likely. The winner will face either Princella Smith or Rick Crawford, the Republican candidates. Rep. Marion Berry (D-Gillett) announced in January he would not run for re-election because of health reasons.

Wooldridge served eight years in each the state House and Senate from 1991 to 2006. He ran for lieutenant governor in 2006, losing to Lieut. Gov. Bill Halter in a runoff in the Democratic primary.

Why are you running for Congress?

I have entered the congression-al race because I feel my experience in the Arkansas House and Senate has given me the knowledge and ability to make sound decisions that represent the people of the First District.

Why are you running for Congress?

My 16 years in the Arkansas Legislature presented many challenges and experiences that are too numerous to mention. It is difficult but necessary to consider all constituents and how each decision affects friends and neighbors. I am proud to say that during my last race, I carried over 80 percent of my home county’s vote.

Why are you a Democrat?

I am a Democrat because I am a product of Democratic policies that have worked. I had a good education at my public school. I was educated at Arkansas State University. I was able to work my way through college. And because factories were able to locate in Greene County, my brothers had jobs. My father farmed. We did not have to go North or West to find opportunity.

That is why I’m a Democrat. I want the disadvantaged to have opportunities to better themselves. Just because I have succeeded does not mean that I should join another party or turn my back on those who have not been able to grab a hand up. It’s tough to put in a 10-second sound bite but this is where my heart is.

How would you have voted on the health-care bill?

Our health-care system is dysfunctional and relies on emergency rooms to be the front line in caring for uninsured people.

The current bill places a heavy burden on small business which accounts for the majority of jobs in Arkansas. I would be in favor of modifications that address more of the costs associated with health-care.

What can we do about health care?

I find much of the legislation coming from Congress does little to help people and puts a terrific burden on small business.

When you hurt small business you hurt the largest job creator in our nation.

What kind of legislation would you support in Congress?

Like it or not our economy is global. We need to be able to compete for jobs and businesses in this district. Modern machinery and manufacturing methods demand intellect and training. Education is our long- term answer. Job training in the short term gives us opportunities in the areas of aerospace, information technology and engineering and will reassure investors that we have the best workforce in the world.

Who is supporting your candidacy?

I am proud to say that over 90 percent of my campaign contributions have come from Arkansas and the vast majority from individuals that have believed in my ability and record.

How will your background prepare you for Congress?

My background has done much to prepare me. My most recent position as director of the Arkansas Association of Public Universities has given me wonderful insight into the successes and challenges of higher education in Arkansas. Prior to that, I served as vice president of development at Arkansas Methodist Hospital. I worked with doctors and administrators.

I saw firsthand the problems that local hospitals face with keeping doctors and the challenges of federal reimbursements. I also was the development officer at Crowley’s Ridge College, which is a private community college. Perhaps the most educational job I had was working at the sporting goods department at Walmart as a young man. I learned the value of service and the needs of average people.

From an agricultural perspective, I was raised on my Dad’s small farm and my daughter and son-in-law farm 5,200 acres near Paragould. All of these areas are directly affected by the successes and failures of the federal government and need proper representation in Washington.

What makes you different from the Democratic and Republican candidates?

My experience and leadership is very much different than most of my opponents. Many have never held public office. Tough choices are part of the job and elected officials must be able and willing to take a stand and be held accountable.

How will you help Arkan-sas if you’re elected to Congress?

Change in government is constant. People need to have confidence in their representative. I can assure you that no other candidate will work harder to communicate with and listen to you concerning your needs.

Rep. Berry and Rep. Snyder have secured millions of dollars worth of projects for Little Rock Air Force Base. Will you support the base if you’re elected?

Little Rock Air Force base is vital to the economy of central Arkansas. I will support the mission of the base as well as the airmen and their families.