Tuesday, October 18, 2016

TOP STORY >> Johnson wants to continue in House

Leader staff writer

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8 and early voting starts Monday.

In the race for Dist. 42 state representative, it’s a longtime public servant versus a newcomer. A Republican-turned Democrat versus a Republican.

Rep. Bob Johnson (D- Jacksonville) vs. Patrick Thomas.

Johnson won the seat in 2014 after serving multiple terms on the Pulaski County Quorum Court as a JP.

He has been endorsed by the Arkansas State Employees Association.

Johnson, 63, is a local certified public accountant and has operated a CPA office in Jacksonville for 26 years. He was born and raised in Jacksonville. Johnson and his wife, Laurie, have five sons.

Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Central Arkan-sas and a master’s degree in accounting from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Thomas, 56, is retired military and calls himself “semi-retired” from business and is a seventh-generation Arkansan and graduate of Jacksonville High School. He has lived in Jacksonville since 1960.

He and his wife, Melissa, have three children, as well as four grandchildren. They are members of the First Assembly of God Church.

Both Johnson and Thomas were asked identical questions. Here are their responses:

Why do you want to serve as state representative for the Jacksonville area?

Johnson: During my first term as state representative, I worked hard to help Jacksonville. I want to continue to use my accountant training along with my experience working with small business owners and my time in public service to improve education, bring jobs to Jacksonville, better roads and helping the veterans. I want to continue to try to lower taxes and work towards giving tax relief to military retirees so they will stay in our area. I am doing and will continue to do all I can to help our community grow. Finally, I want to use my experience to protect and strengthen Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District.

Thomas: I have always had it in my heart to want to help people in some way or another, whether it be something that I know that I can help with or whether it’s something that I knew needed to be done and no one else would step up to do it. I care enough about the community and the concerns of the different types of issues, personal or citywide, and would like to be the voice for the people when they feel they have no one else to turn to. As a state representative, I can take that experience to the Capitol and continue my efforts to help with the necessary changes to bring about an improvement in the lives of all of Arkansas.

What do you think qualifies you for the position?

Thomas: Having....

• Leadership traits, inspiring others to action;

• The ability to bring about a unified effort with teamwork and spirit;

• Business skills, coaching and mentoring others;

• A thorough understanding of the tax laws;

• Knowledge of the pitfalls and fallacies of local sales tax regulations;

• Knowledge of the differences in work and a job or career;

• Being a veteran, understanding the issues families of veterans face;

• Understanding the VA health care situation;

• Represented many people in the community as a voice when needed;

• Organized and unified citizen efforts to accomplish community projects.

Living in Jacksonville since 1960, I understand why things are the way they are.

Johnson: My qualifications for this position are vast and in depth. I am completing my first-term in the state legislature and have a record of fighting for the people of Jacksonville and District 42. I served on the Pulaski County Quorum Court for 10 years and worked to make county government more efficient. For the past 26 years, I have worked countless hours with Jacksonville charities, nonprofits, and civic organizations, including LRAFB Historical Museum, Chamber of Commerce, Boys and Girls Club, Rotary, Lions Club, Sertoma, Community Council and more to improve Jacksonville.

My experience as a business owner makes me qualified for this position as I understand the working of a small business and what it takes to create jobs.

What do you see as Jacksonville’s strengths and weaknesses?

Johnson: Having LFAFB in Jacksonville is a great strength, but the greatest strength of Jacksonville is its people, including our service men and women. I grew up in Jacksonville, raised my family in Jacksonville, and have operated my own accounting firm in Jacksonville for 26 years. Every day I see how the people of Jacksonville look out for one another in so many ways. I do not know a weakness.

Thomas: The city’s strengths are:

• The people make up a diverse community; multi-skilled and talented, a generous community when a need arises.

• Being a military town, Jacksonville benefits from federal employment in the area that other communities don’t have.

• Having our own school district.

Weaknesses – Jacksonville fails to remember that it is another choice among many communities in the surrounding area. We need to improve our appeal factor as one of many choices today.
Jacksonville is divided in a multitude of areas. Everyone has an opinion and a better or different way of doing things. We need more unity.

If elected, what would your top three priorities be?

Thomas: A well-educated Arkansas; job training programs for those not college bound, and bringing industry and life-long careers to Arkansas, not just work.

Johnson: Create good-paying jobs for Jacksonville; protect and strengthen our new school district, and keep government’s promises to our veterans.

Why should residents vote for you and not the other candidate?

Johnson: I have a proven record of putting Jacksonville first and have worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of Jacksonville over the years. I’ve created jobs, protected jobs, and helped make county government more efficient and accountable during my time on the Pulaski County Quorum Court. I have the vision and experience to make Jacksonville a better place to live and work.

Thomas: My heart is in this for the people. I believe more so than his. Being retired I have the time to focus on the work at hand. I have my ear to the ground knowing what is going on locally.

My accomplishments and efforts in the community outweigh his claims to have created jobs and protecting veterans. There is not much to show for the record of my opponent. My accomplishments are the fruits of inspiration where others answered the call to action, working together with a unified effort and accomplishing tasks that others were not interested in.

Is there anything else you would like the voters to know?

Thomas: I’m a firm believer in “We the People,” a malcontent with the status quo. I have conservative values and a firm supporter of the Constitution, the Second Amendment, a member of the National Rifle association, a believer in state control and a smaller federal government. I am dedicated to be fostering a sense of district unity and developing a teamwork mentality through volunteerism.

I graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelor of science degree in occupational education. I also have an associate of applied science degree in aerospace ground equipment technology from the Community College of the Air Force.

Being pro-life, I am against the death penalty. Our justice system is flawed and the death penalty too many times is wrongfully imposed, innocence often realized after the fact.

I will never vote to build another jail or prison unless it is a one for one replacement for upgrading purposes. We have too many people in jails.

My wife Melissa and I have invested in Jacksonville, owning both residential and commercial properties. Being retired and having the available time to work within the community I am an advocate for the revitalization of Main Street and the industrial complex. As a loyal and committed city resident, I regularly attend both city council and school board meetings while encouraging others to do the same.

Johnson: It would be an honor to continue serving the people of Jacksonville as their state representative.

I want the voters to know how much I appreciate our veterans and the sacrifice they and their families make and have made. I want the voters of District 42 to know that, because of having an injury causing myself some physical limitation, I have empathy for those veterans with service related disabilities and anyone with any disability.

I also believe in fighting for the less privileged as well as the affluent in every corner of our community.