Tuesday, August 25, 2015

TOP STORY >> Area representatives seeking re-election

Four area legislators have announced they’ll seek another term in the state House of Representatives.

Rep. Bob Johnson (D-Jacksonville) is running for a second term in Dist. 42.

Rep. Joe Farrer (R-Austin) is seeking re-election in House Dist. 44, which includes parts of Lonoke, Faulkner and White counties.

Rep. Tim Lemons (R-Cabot) is seeking re-election in House Dist. 43, which includes most of Cabot and the central part of Lonoke County.

Rep. Camille Bennett (D-Lonoke) is seeking a second term in Dist. 14.

Johnson, a certified public accountant, says he wants to continue the work he started in the legislature last year. Topping his list of priorities are state income-tax exemptions for military retirees and the right to carry concealed weapons without a permit for all active military.

He said anyone in the military is qualified to carry a weapon and should not have to apply for a state concealed permit. He said all military members have earned the right to carry a concealed weapon after the shootings at military installations in Little Rock and Chattanooga.

Johnson, who served five terms as justice of the peace on the Pulaski County Quorum Court, said he’s also organizing a caucus of central Arkansas legislators to promote jobs, roads and schools in the area.

The caucus includes nine representatives and three senators. They want to promote economic development and improve Hwy. 67/167, which could become a northern corridor of I-130, Johnson said.

“We need to bring jobs here,” Johnson continued. “We can have more impact as a group.”

Johnson serves on several committees, including Legislative and Military Affairs, Joint Committee on Public Retirement and Social Security Programs, Public Transportation and Aging and Children and Youth.

In the 2015 legislative session, Johnson supported an increase in public school teacher pay.

“We started some good things in 2015 and want to continue the work in 2017,” he said.

Farrer said he focused his efforts in the 2014 legislative session on lowering taxes, bringing jobs to Arkansas and being an advocate for first responders, specifically fire and police.

He said the legislature passed the largest income tax cut in Arkansas history, but there is still more work that can be done.

Farrer, interim chief executive officer of North Metro Medical Center, serves on a committee that is evaluating Medicaid expansion under the so-called private option. The legislature will consider abolishing the program, which provides health insurance to about 200,000 working-poor Arkansans.

“I will continue to work tirelessly as an advocate for common sense policy in Little Rock. The new Republican majority has made it possible to pass legislation that reduces the size and scope of government, decreases the tax burden on hard-working Arkansans, and advocates for our public servants.

“Moving forward, I will continue to represent the values and needs of District 44 in Little Rock,” he said. “As I travel the three counties in my district, I constantly hear the same messages of ‘we need more jobs’ or ‘taxes are just too high.’ As my record shows, these issues matter to me, and I will continue the fight for more jobs and lower taxes.”

Lemons is the owner of Lemons Engineering Consultants in Cabot.

Before his election as state representative in 2014, he served for six years on the Lonoke County Quorum Court.

“My service in the House of Representatives has been the most rewarding experience of my life. My platform will continue to be a Republican for common sense government,” Lemons said.

During his first term in the House, Lemons sponsored and passed legislation that created the state’s first suicide prevention council, increased autism awareness, and revised the county’s appropriation process, which freed up approximately $100,000 for each county without increasing taxes. He also sponsored three pieces of legislation to strengthen the right to possess arms.

Lemons was a co-sponsor on several pieces of legislation that became law, such as Gov. Hutchinson’s middle-class tax cut and the 2015 School Safety Act. He was a strong supporter of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

While at the Capitol, Lemons serves on the Revenue and Tax Committee, where he is the vice chair of income tax for personal and corporate; City, County and Local Affairs Committee; Energy Com-mittee; Boys State Advisory Committee and the Arkansas Legislative Council. He was recently appointed to the Alzheimer’s Advisory Council and is one of only two legislators appointed to the newly created Arkansas Special Education Task Force.

“As an engineer, I take a common-sense approach to solving problems. I’ve done my best to do the same when addressing issues as a legislator,” said Lemons. “This style, along with my business background and community involvement, has allowed me to be a strong voice and solid advocate for our area in the state legislature.”

Lemons has served on the board of directors of CASA, is a past board member on the Arkansas Association of Counties Legislative Committee, a member of the Lonoke County Republican Committee and a member of First Baptist Church.

He has also served on the Metroplan TCC Board, board of directors of thes Cabot and Ward chambers of commerce, as a board member on Cabot Parks and Recreation, chair for Cabot- Arkansas Community of Excellence Board, as a volunteer for Special Olympics, a volunteer for Project Lead the Way at Cabot High School and has held leadership positions on church committees.

Lemons and his wife, Janice, have two children, Erica, a realtor in the Cabot area and co-owner of the Trendy Tulip (along with Janice), and Seth, a broadcast journalism major at UALR working as audio director for KARK and KLRT in Little Rock.

Lemons added, “I appreciate the opportunity to serve the citizens of Cabot and Lonoke County in the state legislature and ask for their continued support in my re-election campaign.”

Bennett defeated Repub-lican Buddy Fisher, a minister, by 88 votes in 2014. She succeeded longtime Rep. Walls McCrary (D-Lonoke).

The district includes Carlisle, Coy, Furlow, Hum-noke, Humphrey, Keo, Lonoke, Scott, Tucker and Wabbaseka in Lonoke, Jefferson and Pulaski counties.

Bennett, a former elected Lonoke city attorney, received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and her law degree from the University of Missouri School of Law in Columbia, Mo.

She has been assigned to the Judiciary and State Agencies and Governmental Affairs committees.

Bennett is a member of the United Methodist Church, the American Heart Association and the Central Arkansas Rescue Efforts for Animals.

She is married to Wayne Otis Bennett Jr. of Lonoke.