Tuesday, September 09, 2014

TOP STORY >> Stump pitches garner voters

Leader staff writer

About 100 voters showed up to hear 26 candidates speak at the Stand on the Stump Old-Fashioned Political Rally held Sunday at Delmont Park in Sherwood.

The lineup for the event, hosted by the Sherwood Young Professionals of the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce and the Sherwood History and Heritage Committee, included:

 Former North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hays, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, Dist. 2.

 French Hill, the Republican candidate for U.S. Congress, Dist. 2.

 Debbie Standiford, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Congress, Dist. 2.

 Pulaski County JP Karilyn Brown, the Republican candidate for state representative, Dist. 41.

 Danny Knight, the Democratic candidate for state representative, Dist. 41.

 John Burkhalter, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.

 Second District Rep. Tim Griffin, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

 Christopher Olson, the Libertarian candidate for lieutenant governor.

 Jacob Holloway, the Libertarian candidate for secretary of state.

 Pulaski County JP Dist. 12 candidate Jeff Rollins, a Democrat.

 Pulaski County JP Dist. 12 candidate Luke McCoy, a Republican.

 Pulaski County Dist. 13 JP Phil Stowers, a Republican who is up for re-election.

 Pulaski County JP Dist. 13 candidate William Brackeen, a Libertarian.

 Pulaski County JP Dist. 15 candidate Jesse Macom-Teague, a Republican.

 Pulaski County JP Dist. 15 candidate Staci Medlock, a Democrat.

 Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman, who is up for re-election.

 Sherwood mayoral candidate Don Berry.

 Alderman Mary Jo Heye, who is seeking re-election to her Ward 2 seat.

 Former Alderman Butch Davis, who is running for the Ward 2 seat.

 Alderman Toni Butler, who is up for re-election to her Ward 3 seat;

 Beverly Williams, candidate for Sherwood alderman in Ward 3.

 City Clerk Angela Nicholson, who is up for re-election.

 Phil Wyrick, the Republican candidate for Pulaski County judge.

 Glen Schwarz, the Libertarian candidate for Pulaski County judge.

 Land Commissioner candidate Mark Robertson, a Democrat.

 Land commissioner candidate Elvis Presley, a Libertarian.

Four spokesmen stood in for gubernatorial hopefuls Asa Hutchinson and Mike Ross and state auditor candidates Regina Stewart Hampton and Andrea Lea.

State Rep. Douglas House (R-North Little Rock), who is unopposed in his bid for re-election in Dist. 40, spoke for Attorney General candidate Leslie Rutledge.

Bernard Olds, 93, who was elected as one of the city’s first aldermen and participated in the first rally at the park, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

That first rally was held at Triangle Park — now known as Delmont Park — on July 19, 1948, the same year Sherwood was incorporated as a city.

The park was also the site of Sherwood’s first town hall.

Subsequent political rallies were held in the city for several years after incorporation, and Saturday’s event paid homage to that. Organizer Darrell Brown said, “I think it’s going to become a tradition (held during election years). I couldn’t be more proud of it.”

Steve Perry, a former Sherwood chamber president, sang the National Anthem.


Patrick Henry Hays, the former North Little Rock mayor who is running as a Democrat for Congress in Dist. 2, emphasized that he works with others to get things done.

“I think that all of us know, in city hall, there’s no such thing as Democratic grime or Republican garbage,” he told the crowd.

Hays said the first thing he would do if elected would be find a Republican congressman and make a friend.

He added, “I stand on my record of what we had a chance to do in North Little Rock and, not only in North Little Rock, but throughout the central Arkansas community in trying to make lives better every day.”

French Hill, Hays’ Republican opponent, said “I’m running for Congress after 35 years in business because I think our country needs more careers and more opportunities for all the people in our district and in our country. We are in an economy that is not producing the jobs and not producing the right kind of jobs.”

He said more Arkansans are unemployed now than were unemployed seven years ago. Hill argued that a true recovery from the recession should have generated 10 to 13 million more jobs than the state has to offer now.

“I know the families, the hard-working families here want, if they play be the rules, save their money, work hard, to come out ahead and that third generations can come out ahead and that’s what we’ll do if we get this economy growing again.”

Hill added that he would be accountable, work to get spending under control and support vocational education programs.

The Libertarian candidate for the Dist. 2 Congressional seat, Debbie Standiford, said she didn’t have millions backing her campaign. “If you’re hoping to hire someone for this position that knows how to run your life better than you do, then you might better not vote for me,” Standiford said.

She argued that choosing between the two parties every election cycle isn’t working and that voters should do something different this year. Standiford said Libertarians believe in the rule kids learn when they attend kindergarten — don’t hurt others and don’t take their stuff.

“If you elect me as congresswoman, I will do my best to keep the federal government out of your pocket, out of your house and out of the state of Arkansas,” the candidate concluded.


Pulaski County JP Karilyn Brown, the Republican candidate for Dist. 41 State Representative, said she tried to make the quorum court more transparent. The meeting packets are now posted on the court’s website.

She proposed broadcasting its meetings over the Internet but other JPs decided that wasn’t a feasible expenditure, Brown said.

“You can’t engage the local community if they can’t see what you’re doing,” she noted.

Brown continued, “Arkansas has many wonderful people. We’re just as smart, just as capable, just as creative as people of any place else in this world, or any place else in this country and there’s absolutely no reason for us to rank at the bottom of just about every survey that’s done.”

She said Arkansas needed job creation, new businesses and improvement in education.

Brown said she supports the Arkansas Veterans Coalition’s efforts and Sherwood’s plan to detach from the Pulaski County Special School District to form its own locally controlled district.

Brown’s opponent, Danny Knight, retired after serving for 38 years as a superintendent. He also supports an independent Sherwood school district.

As a superintendent, he said, he had to pull together a community that was racially divided while running one of the first school districts in Arkansas to become integrated.

Knight continued, “You don’t go into some place thinking you’re going to get everything accomplished if you’re not willing to sit down at the table and work with folks. I know how to work and get things done for our school district.”

He said he had worked with the last four governors, supports extending vocational education opportunities and will be accessible to constituents if elected.

John Burkhalter, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, stressed his Sylvan Hills/Sherwood roots. He lived on Kellogg Acres Road and graduated from local schools.

“By the time I left Sylvan Hills, I was made. When I was a little boy, I could push a lawnmower. I was mowing some of your yards. I was cutting wood and bringing in ricks of wood. I grew up working.”

Burkhalter said his parents were involved in the community and his local church led him to enroll at Hendrix College.

The engineer told the crowd he was denied a bank loan to start his first small piping business. Burkhalter also said Gov. Mike Beebe mentored and encouraged him to run for lieutenant governor.

Second District Rep. Tim Griffin, the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, spoke before the program began and prior to The Leader reporter’s arrival. But he sent a press release summarizing his stump speech.

Griffin said in the release, “Every county and city in Arkansas counts, and I have common sense ideas to grow good-paying jobs for hardworking Arkansans, including the folks in Sherwood.”

The release states that the candidate wants the state to be a leader in job creation, lower taxes on families and businesses, review all regulations from the top down and focus on vocational education programs.

The Libertarian candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Christopher Olson, said promising job creation would be an insult to voters because the duties of the position are to serve as the governor when the governor is absent and to preside over the state Senate.

If elected, Olson said he would ask that the office’s four-person staff making annual salaries of $50,000 each be dissolved.

Olson said he would request just one part-time secretary, ask for a reduction in the lieutenant governor’s $42,000 salary or decline half of that salary if the Legislature disagrees with cutting it.

The candidate also said he would propose that the position be eliminated altogether and the duties be absorbed by another elected official, such as the Secretary of State.

Speaking of, Libertarian Jacob Holloway, who is running for Secretary of State, was the only candidate for that post to attend the rally.

The incumbent is Mark Martin and the Democratic challenger is Susan Inman.

Holloway said, “One of the problems running as a third-party candidate or as an independent is that your party is consistently kicked off the ballot every single election cycle. You’re never given a chance to actually build a political coalition.”

He bashed the two-party system that doesn’t have to follow the same rules as third-party and Green-party candidates.

“They think that people like myself getting on the ballot running as a political candidate is a problem for them in their re-election. But I’ll propose something else, that the real problem for the Democratic and Republican parties is that people like myself no longer participate in the political system because we no longer see it as effective because we are always, always disenfranchised from political power and having access to our venue of government.”

Holloway hopes that, as secretary of state, he can reform the ballot access law to allow more independent and third-party candidates.

He concluded, “I think it’s an absolute disgrace in the United States of America that we force candidates into a totally different legal system of getting on the ballot just because they’re not Republican or Democrat.”


Pulaski County JP Dist. 12 candidate Jeff Rollins, a Democrat, described what the quorum court does. Rollins is a former justice of the peace.

He said, “We take these taxes and turn them into services for the people. We take care of everything that you can’t take care of while at city levels.”

The court deals in grants for things like utility projects, runs the county jail, issues watershed ordinances, takes care of the court system and looks after roads and bridges, Rollins explained. The county jail accounts for about 60 percent of the court’s $60 million budget, he said.

After describing himself as the third generation of a Sherwood family, the candidate said, “I’m not here to criticize. I’m not here to put blame on anybody. Politics, for 30 days, it’s people telling people what they’ve done wrong. That’s not what we’re here to do. We’re here to work with whoever we need to work with…You have to work with others for the good of the whole.”

Rollins’ opponent, Republican Luke McCoy, said the county jail must stay open for nonviolent offenders, deputies must be paid competitive salaries and that the court should be conservative with property rights and how they spend tax monies.

McCoy said he works for the Family Council and owns JLM Tree Service.

He continued, “As a kid I used to ride up and down these streets. Like I said, I went to Sherwood Elementary, even played at the youth center, and here at Delmont Park. These resources, these amenities that we have, these nice things we have, they didn’t get here by accident. It took people in their extracurricular time to be elected, volunteering to help put these things together. I want to help make Pulaski County safer, more attractive to families, visitors and new residents.”

McCoy said the quorum court needed to do something about the flooding in Higgins, where the JPs decided to build a new community center for much more than the $50,000 that would have made it look nice, according to the candidate.

The flooding prevents impoverished kids from getting to school, he emphasized.

McCoy also criticized the court’s decision to buy metal trusses for the new Broadway Bridge.

Pulaski County Dist. 13 JP Phil Stowers, a Republican who is up for re-election, said he was elected the year the court discovered a $7 million shortfall in its budget.

“We got the county out of the red, into the black again. We restored the reserves that had been depleted by wasteful spending in the past. We recently, in the last two years built — everybody always says you have to have a tax increase to add more buildings. Well, we proved them wrong. We saved the money and built a new 240-bed addition to the county jail without raising taxes and without borrowing money by paying interest with your tax dollars.”

Stowers said he stood behind his record on the court of being fiscally conservative and that he would be accessible to voters.

The Democratic candidate for Dist. 13, John Beard, did not attend the rally.

But Stowers’ Libertarian opponent, William Brackeen, said, the quorum court needed to be more transparent by operating a Facebook page and a YouTube channel that could be used to broadcast its meetings.

He said he would run both at no charge to the county if elected.

Brackeen said jailers and deputies are not paid enough because they leave the county for other agencies as soon as they are experienced.

“This leaves us falling behind in the law enforcement market and that makes for an unsafe county, which makes our property values go down, our homeowners insurance go up, and that’s a bad cycle for everyone,” he noted.

Brackeen said he had also heard that county employees had not had raises in 10 years.

The candidate added that the sheriff’s office doesn’t need things like the mine resistant armored vehicle it has now.

Pulaski County JP Dist. 15 candidate Jesse Macom-Teague, a Republican, criticized the $23 million Broadway Bridge project that will shut down traffic for three years.

I-30 will be shut down for two years after that, the candidate said.

He claimed the project could have been done for free and in three months.

The Marine veteran of two wars continued, “The Broadway Bridge is not a veterans memorial. To call it that, to call it that and to spend your tax dollars, is an insult to veterans and to your back pocket. We have to stop spending on special interests in Pulaski County.”

He also bashed the watershed ordinances because Pulaski County is buying 140 million gallons a day of Lake DeGray water from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when all the water that was already available isn’t used at peak times in the hottest month of the year.

“Why did we need to take away people’s personal property rights?” the candidate asked. “They have set a disturbing precedent in the watershed that can now creep into your backyard and into your neighborhoods, and somebody can start telling you what to do with your private personal property. And that’s wrong, my friends.”

Macom-Teague also said deputies must be paid what they’re worth and concluded, “I want to get your taxes lower. I want to make your streets safer, and I want to build a better community for tomorrow.”

His Democratic opponent, Staci Medlock, said she wants to balance the budget, keep streets safe and keep the community private.

She told the crowd, “I am not a politician. I am a trustworthy Christian, wife, mother and real estate agent that does care about our community. I am a caretaker. I took care of my siblings through a rough childhood. I raised children that are now grown, and I’m helping my husband raise his children that I now call my own. I want to take care of you as your justice of the peace in our community.”

Phil Wyrick, the Republican candidate for Pulaski County judge, is a former state senator and a former state representative.

He introduced himself as the former director of the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission and as a cattle rancher who served on the county’s election commission for five years.

Wyrick said he was the oldest candidate in the race, having turned 65 on Friday. He joked that he wouldn’t exploit the youth of his opponents as President Ronald Reagan did once.

Wyrick said he has a lot of experience.

“It is important that we recognize the No. 1 concern of people is public safety, and this is a race of priorities. Public safety is my priority,” the candidate continued.

The jail has closed to nonviolent offenders three times, he said. Little Rock was ranked the No. 1 most violent city of its size and as the fifth most violent in the country, Wyrick noted.

He pointed out that the rankings are also an economic development issue.

Wyrick’s Democratic opponent, Barry Hyde, did not attend the rally.

Glen Schwarz, the Libertarian candidate for Pulaski County judge, said he had been self-employed for 20 years, earned a degree from Florida University, graduated from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a teaching certificate and taught for five years.

Schwarz, who publishes The Emerald City of the South, said all the candidates for Pulaski County judge are qualified.

“The difference, perhaps, is how we’re going to do the jail situation. The other candidates will have a different formula for keeping the jail open or for funding the jail. I have a completely different Libertarian vision of that. And that is that I will end the war on drugs in Pulaski County,” he said to the crowd.

If he were elected, county residents would not go to prison for marijuana crimes, Schwarz said.

He also said he was interested in expanding recycling and building more Civil War attractions.

Mark Robertson, the Democratic candidate for land commissioner, stressed that he has experience as a landscape architect, planner and Forest Service surveyor.

“I think the office has failed to reach its full potential…I intend to transform that office into one that serves the entire state of Arkansas to make sure that we’re investing in our education” by getting properties turned around quickly while maintaining property rights and selling for fair market value.

“We need to me more than just an auction house,” he added.

Elvis Presley, the Libertarian candidate for land commissioner, said incumbent John Thurston should have overruled the governor’s decision to install a pipeline in Arkansas.

He also encouraged the crowd to vote for Libertarian candidates.

Thurston, who is seeking re-election, did not attend the rally.


Mayor Virginia Hillman said, in the seven years she’s been in office, Sherwood has seen a lot of positive changes. Those include 500 direct jobs and 1,500 indirect jobs through several successful economic development projects.

She also touted the annexation of Gravel Ridge.

Hillman said the Sherwood Fraternal Order of Police had endorsed her and it has not been the group’s practice to endorse candidates.

The mayor asked the crowd for their votes so that she could continue to support the city’s growth.

One of her opponents, retired Air Force officer Don Berry, said he would like to institute quarterly town-hall meetings in each of the city’s four wards and consider adding a fifth ward.

He said he had been working with the Arkansas Veterans Coalition since January on a legislative initiative package for 2015 to address issues like in-state tuition.

Berry said he had also been working with a professor at UALR on a proposal that addresses shortcomings in veteran benefits.

The candidate said his idea for leadership was based on a bible verse that says one must listen, be slow to speak and be slow to wrath.

Mayoral candidate Doris Anderson did not attend the rally.

Ward 2 Alderman Mary Jo Heye, who is running for re-election, said Sherwood needed strategic planning for its future, more fiscal responsibility and more participation through increased transparency via webcasting and televising city council meetings.

The alderman emphasized that the city also needs to work on getting young families to move there.

Former Alderman Butch Davis is running for his old seat against Heye because “I really, really loved it.”

Davis said he had cleaned Delmont Park four times and that he had also cleaned other parks.

He encouraged those in the crowd to throw their hats in the ring because serving the public is a rewarding experience.

Ward 3 Alderman Toni Butler, who is seeking re-election, said, “My purpose for being an alderman was and still is being an advocate for the citizens and giving them a voice.”

Butler added that while Sherwood has good police, fire, public works and parks departments, she is looking forward to the city detaching from the Pulaski County Special School District to form its own standalone district.

Beverly Williams, a retired teacher and Butler’s opponent, co-chairs the Sherwood Public Education Foundation — the group charged with working toward the formation of an independent school district.

She also mentioned her work on a grassroots campaign that encouraged a vote to keep North Little Rock Electric as the provider for a third of the city’s residents.

City Clerk/Treasurer Angela Nicholson is running for re-election against challenger Stephen Partridge, who did not attend the rally.

Nicholson said she has been a city employee for 24 years, spent 19 of those in the city clerk’s office and has been in her position for seven years.

The candidate described her office as a “central hub” that handles all of Sherwood’s finances, including payroll for all city employees, and maintains records.