Tuesday, September 13, 2016

TOP STORY >> Bond running for Senate

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville native Will Bond, a Democrat now of Little Rock, is running against Libertarian Jacob Mosier for state Senate District 32, the rare Arkansas district so Democratic that they are without a Republican challenger.

Mosier is a bank teller for Onebanc, and doesn’t seem to have an online election presence and no financial disclosure records were on file with the Secretary of State’s website.

That district, currently represented by Democrat David Johnson, covers downtown Little Rock roughly between I-30 Bridge and Shackleford on the east and west and the Arkansas River and I-630 on the north and west.

Bond, 46, who was Jacksonville’s state representative from 2003 through 2008, said because Johnson elected to run for judge instead of reelection, it created an opening just at a time when “I was ready to run again.”

Bond, managing partner at McMath Wood Law and former Dist. 44 state representative representing Jacksonville, moved to Little Rock several years ago, but he is best known in his home town for his work both in the House and on behalf of creation of the Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District.

Bond’s mother, Pat Bond, worked for a new district when she was the area’s state representative, and when Bond succeeded her, he sponsored language that allowed the eventual creation of the district.

Bond was active in the various groups that worked toward a Jacksonville school district and he says he’s impressed with the work that has been done to make the new district a reality.

“All these big changes required the efforts of a lot of people,” Bond said, including great teachers and administrators who stuck with the program patiently.

He also had high praise for Superintendent Tony Wood and former interim Superintendent Bobby Lester, who helped guide the fledgling district. This was the first time a new district was detached from an existing district, and there was no road map, he said.

“I’ve know Tony for a long time,” Bond said. “They are incredible, competent administrators.”

There was a false start in 2003, but the local district court and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court put the brakes on derailing that effort. “The only thing better than getting the new district now would have bee getting it 10 years ago,” Bond said.

New term-limits rules allow for a total of 16 years in the General Assembly, which could allow him 10 years in the state senate.

He says he’s proud of the restrained budget adopted in 2007, with a big surplus.

He has worked hard as a volunteer lawyer to increase the minimum wage and also proud of the work he and former state Rep. Sandra Prater (D-Jacksonville) did to create tax-deductible health savings accounts and to allow senior citizens to buy insurance to protect some of their assets if they have to go into nursing homes.

“It was the right thing to do and we saved the state money,” Bond said.

“If we can somehow resist the initial urge toward sarcasm and the easy jab (at people who disagree) there can be efficient solutions found to some of our problems,” Bond said.

There are facts, data and things that have worked in some other states, Bond said.

“If we work to make things better, we can build a bigger, brighter future for all Arkansans. We ought to do it,” he added.

“What we can do in the state is have a real discussion over the budget. It shows our values and priorities. We’ve got to expand pre-K opportunities for kids,” he added. “It improves outcomes. The pre-K budget hasn’t kept up with inflation.”

Bond wants to make sure “we replenish school buildings, infrastructure and make sure facilities are clean and safe.

He would also like to see less money go to prisons, and more to treat addiction and mental health. He says there’s a big hole that gets filled with law enforcement officers who have to act as psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers when dealing with people who have mental health problems.

Bond, a 1988 graduate of Jacksonville High School, played baseball for Vanderbilt University and holds a law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

“We were state champs in 1987,” Bond said and the following year their Gwatney Chevrolet American Legion team won the state.

Bond and his wife Gabriel will celebrate their 20th anniversary next month. They have a son Cy, 15, and twin girls, 11.