Friday, October 24, 2014

TOP STORY >> Attorney vs. minister in Dist. 14 race

Leader senior staff writer

Lonoke City Attorney Camille Williams Bennett, a Democrat, and minister Buddy Douglas Fisher, a Republican, are seeking the Dist. 14 House seat currently held by Walls McCrary (D-Lonoke), who is term limited and now serving as Bennett’s campaign treasurer.

Fisher, 44, and his wife, Sherry, have been married for 33 years and have two grown children. He said he’d been in ministry for 30 years and is president of Buddy Fisher Ministries Inc., which he described as an evangelistic ministry in which he travels and ministers to churches, teaches seminars. “I also minister in prisons across Arkansas regularly,” he added.

“I love my state and my community. There are several issues, including many immediate financial shortfalls that are facing Arkansas. I believe I can be a conservative voice on many of these.”

Asked if he’d favor discontinuing private- option health insurance, he said, “I haven’t heard anyone say they want to take insurance away from folks or burden our hospitals. I believe the concern is in the cost of the program.”

Fisher said middle-class working families shouldn’t be burdened with more taxes to pay for a program that can sustain itself long-term.

“There is a solution for everyone. It’s just going to take putting minds together and searching hard to find it. I’m eager to be a part of those conversations.

“I am 100 percent committed to being pro-life, and I have the Arkansas Right to Life endorsement. I have an A rating and the endorsement of the NRA, and I am very committed to defending the second amendment of our Constitution and our right to bear arms.

“I am committed to our schools and believe that we should have more local control,” Fisher said. “I am endorsed by the Arkansas Education Association.”

Bennett, in addition to her job as Lonoke’s city attorney, is on the board at her church and at Scott Connections, the historic Scott Plantation settlement. She works as a volunteer for the Arkansas Heart Association and volunteers for animals rescue groups.

“I decided to run because we need some moderate, middle-of-the-road people willing to work for the district and not for themselves or any political party.”

She says her varied background would make her efficient. Bennett has worked in state and local government, has been a district judge and represented businesses in her private practice. “I’ve been working since I was about 14,” she said.

As for her position on the Private Option, “as long as we have Obamacare, we have to have the private option. It’s the only opportunity to sustain local hospitals.

“Every problem facing our district seems to come back to lack of appropriate education,” Bennett said.

“We’re leaving some of our children unprepared for the workforce,” she said. “Pre-K is one of the best things we can offer.”

Bennett said 70 percent of prisoners can’t read at a fifth- grade level, nor can 70 percent of pregnant or unmarried mothers.

“Just working hard with your hands doesn’t get you much in the way of employment,” she said, noting that a person working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year earns about $13,600 a year. “That doesn’t get you off welfare.”

Then they have to apply for subsidies to try to make ends meet, she continued.

Bennett has worked as a national compliance director for USABLE Life Insurance Company and was appointed Lonoke District Court Judge by Gov. Mike Beebe to fill a vacancy.

She worked five years as an assistant attorney general in the Consumer Protection Division.

Prior to that, she practiced law for 13 years and was assistant to Commissioner Helen G. Corrothers on the United States Sentencing Commission.

Married to Wayne Bennett of Lonoke, the candidate says she will fight to protect Second Amendment rights.