Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TOP STORY >> Q&A with House District 44 hopefuls

Leader staff writer

Judy Riley of El Paso, a Democrat, and Joe Farrer of Ward, a Republican, are running for state representative in Dist. 44.

Farrer is the director of therapy services at North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville.

Riley is a former White County Extension agent and is an adjunct instructor in family consumer sciences at the University of Central Arkansas.

Tell us about your background and qualifications for representing District 44.

I have started a business with nothing but hard work. I have for the last 15 years and currently manage over 13 employees in a division of a hospital with a $4 million budget.

I am a private-sector job creator. I have worked for the people of Lonoke County as justice of the peace working to lower costs to keep taxes down and bring accountability to politicians with blank checks. I have balanced budgets.

Having treated patients for over 25 years, I understand the need of the patient as a human being, not just a number. I have volunteered in our schools for 22 years.

Riley: I was raised on a small poultry farm in northwest Arkansas where I learned the value of hard work.

My parents instilled a sense of others before self and encouraged us to either pay back those who helped us or pay it forward to those who came after us.

My adult work has been serving as a county Extension agent, primarily White County. I worked with farmers, families and youth in small towns and communities, helping them improve their skills and quality of life.

Why do you want the position?

Farrer: I want to bring smaller, smarter government to the state. Being someone who started his own business and has worked as a hospital clinic administrator for the last 15 years, I believe I can help bring real world solutions to the problems that plague our state government.

From my experience on the quorum court, I know that we can trim budgets and save taxpayers money. I know there are practical things we can do to reduce costs and to raise taxes.

My 25 years experience treating patients gives me a unique perspective to help this state deal with our healthcare, as I understand treatment providers and patients should be the decision makers, not government bureaucrats.

Riley: When working with the Cooperative Extension Service, I had the opportunity to bring the resources of the University of Arkansas to local families.

I see this job as an opportunity to bring the resources of the entire state to District 44. I am a product of the public education system in this state. I believe the best way to encourage economic growth is to continue to improve educational opportunities.

A skilled work force is the key to economic growth. I want to continue the progress we have made. Clearly, I have no personal agenda in this race; I want what is best for everyone.

District 44 is a new district that takes in several small cities and large rural areas that at least on the surface seem to have little in common. How will you represent everyone fairly?

Farrer: Yes, District 44 has a variety of people from rural farmers to Little Rock business people who live in Faulkner, Lonoke and White Counties.

Everyone needs good healthcare, a good education, and a good job. These are the problems that face all Arkansans. I believe these problems affect everyone equally. I plan to hold state government accountable for the money they get, begin to limit the expenses of government on peoples’ lives and protect our healthcare system.

I expect to serve on committees dealing with issues that affect District 44 and our state.

Riley: The people in this district have more in common than they have differences.

Everyone wants the best education for their children, an economy where good jobs are available, roads that are high quality, and communities and towns that are safe to live in. I would treat everyone fairly, regardless of area of the district.

As in this campaign, I would continue to make my home and cell numbers available to everyone.

I would visit towns and communities on a regular basis to keep in touch with their needs and concerns.

What do you hope to accomplish while in office?

Farrer: I intend to be voting with what I expect to be the Republican majority, enacting legislation to bring about many changes in Arkansas.

For over 138 years, we have been governed in both chambers of our legislature by a single party. I plan to be a part of this change by enacting spending reform to trim the budget, streamlining Arkansas’ tax system, implementing new controls to prevent Medicaid waste, fraud, and abuse; supporting patient and free-market drivers, not large government programs; protecting Arkansas’ future by offering policies of opportunity for our citizens and businesses rather than allowing policies of destruction, implementing legal and regulatory reform and promoting educational excellence because our states’ economic viability will largely be determined by our continued investment and commitment to a higher level of achievement within our educational system.

Riley: This race is about Arkansas, about what is important for Arkansas.

I am willing to work for and with anyone. I will work to build consensus and not be divisive. I would hope to strengthen local schools, help create jobs, ensure we continue to improve roads, work to get affordable Internet, support local fire and police departments and provide the best health care possible, while maintaining a balanced budget.

Above all, I will listen to the people of this district and try my best to do their wishes.