Friday, October 05, 2012

TOP STORY >> In Sherwood, 11 candidates make pitches

Leader staff writer

Eleven of the 12 candidates introduced themselves to voters Thursday during two-minute presentations before a packed Sherwood Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

The candidates for city council, the state Legislature and circuit judge spoke at the Greens at North Hills golf course club house.

Aldermen hopefuls Bob Ferguson and Mike Sanders are facing off in the Ward 4, Position 2 race. Steve Fender decided not to run again because the lines were redrawn to include Gravel Ridge. He said he didn’t know enough about the former township to provide adequate representation.

Patti Julian is vying for the state House of Representatives Dist. 28 seat. Her opponent, Dean DiMichele, did not attend.

State House candidates Doug House and Steven McNeely are running for the Dist. 40 seat; Jim Nickels, the incumbent, and Alan Pogue are facing off in the Dist. 41 race.

John Hout and Patti James are running for Dist. 6 circuit judge for juvenile court.

Rep. Jane English (R-North Little Rock) and Rep. Barry Hyde (D-North Little Rock) are vying for the state Senate Dist. 34 seat.

Ferguson kicked off the brief presentations.

He said he is 59 years old and moved to Sherwood more than 30 years ago. Ferguson and his wife have two children.

“We raised our children in a terrific neighborhood. I think that’s what most people want for their families,” he said.

Ferguson has been a certified public accountant for 35 years.

Ferguson said, “I understand the need for good stewardship over our tax dollars. That professional background I have will be a big plus working with the city on city budgeting.”
He complimented Sherwood on having good parks, police, firefighters and a senior citizens center.

“What we need to do is to continue to improve and upgrade our city because those are the things that are going to add to the quality of our life. It’s going to add to the future of our city and it’s going to help the city of Sherwood continue to prosper. It’s also going to help businesses continue to prosper as well as increase our property values,” Ferguson said.

He added, “I’ll work hard to earn that vote and make sure Sherwood continues to be the best hometown in Arkansas.”

Sanders said, “I’m running for city council because I believe I can make a difference.”

He spoke about working with youth at the Sherwood Sports Complex 10 to 12 hours a week for more than 20 years. Sanders said he grew up in the Runyan Acres area. He and his wife have three children.

He is a football, baseball and basketball coach. Sanders has also been president of the Sylvan Hills Sherwood Optimist Club.

“I firmly believe young people are our future. The things we do today in our community prepare our youth for tomorrow. (I will) maintain Sherwood’s status as one of the state’s greatest city,” he said.

Senate candidate Hyde said, “Vote for me so we can keep on the right track.”

He said Arkansas is ranked No. 5 in education, and incomes in the state are rising at the 10th fastest rate in the nation. English said, “Education is very, very high on my list. We have some great policies at the state level that don’t transfer down to the local level.”

House candidate Julian, a Democrat, said, “This is my home. There is absolutely no better place to live and raise a family than our community.

“We’re vibrant, with business and industry of our own, safe neighborhoods and good schools.”

She stressed the importance of education.

“My commitment to you is to continue to improve our schools so that our children have absolutely the best education to prepare them for the future. We need them to have the best education possible because we need an educated workforce to continue the economic growth in our community,” Julian said.

House, a Republican running for state representative, introduced himself as a retired Army colonel and a former attorney for Camp Robinson.

He said the area he would represent if elected is people who live north of Little Rock Air Force Base.

House said, “I’m conservative. I’m Republican. I’m going into the job hoping we can reduce taxes and make some reforms in government.”

McNeely, his Democratic opponent, is a lawyer who handles Social Security and disability cases.

He said, “Our economy is starting to come back up. My clients are more able to find jobs and re-enter the workforce. Our biggest problem is we’ve still got to work on skilled, trained labor. We have to have people who can do the job for them to hire them. We are making progress. I want to continue making progress.”

Nickels took out a flyer that he said has been produced by the billionaire Koch brothers, who have used both his and Hyde’s pictures. The flyer, he said, accuses them of being against seniors.

Nickels, the Democratic incumbent, said that is not true. He also disputed the idea that his attempts to reform the tax code are hurting small businesses by treating them like big businesses.

“I was trying to put small businesses on the same playing field. That’s who I’m trying to protect,” Nickels said.

Pogue, his Republican opponent, said the government is doing too much.

“I’m running because my frustration with our government reached the boiling point. One of things that is irritating me is the mass of regulations on businesses. Roll back on the laws. Rollback the regulations and get government down to a manageable size,” he said.

Judicial candidates Hout and James both claimed that their experience make a difference in this race.

Hout said, “This job is critically important. I will keep your children safe. I will be tough on crime. I will use my experience to do that.”

He said he has been lead attorney in more than 150 jury trials, more than 50 of those were homicide cases and more than 50 were child abuse and domestic abuse jury trials.

Hout said child cases are very complex and experience is needed to handle them.

He said he wants to rehabilitate children, especially those who put on masks to rob a store or shoot people.

Hout said studies have shown more than 90 percent of them can be rehabilitated.

He also said he has interviewed hundreds of child victims.

James said she won the election in May but not by a high enough margin. The November election is a run-off.

She said she was appointed a special judge in the juvenile court. James said that the position she is vying for is in that court.

James explained that the juvenile court doesn’t have jury trials and older youths are usually tried as adults.

She said she also believes in rehabilitation because “It costs us $80,000 to house one child,” in a correctional facility.