Tuesday, October 11, 2016

TOP STORY >> Two run for Dist. 38 House seat

Special to The Leader

Victoria “Tori” Leigh and Carlton Wing, both of North Little Rock, are vying for the Dist. 38 seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives, which includes North Little Rock and much of Sherwood.

The seat will be vacated by Rep. Donnie Copeland, who will have served for only one term. He ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary against Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock).

Leigh, a Democrat, is a 29-year-old attorney with a practice in central Arkansas that specializes in domestic relations, real estate, criminal defense and consumer protection defense. Leigh is a 2005 graduate of Mount Saint Mary Academy in Little Rock and earned a bachelor’s of science degree in communication studies and public speaking at Ball State University in Indiana. She then attended the Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University.

Leigh lives in North Little Rock with her husband, Joey, and her two daughters, Lillian and Katherine.

Leigh said she decided to run because she knew the seat was open, winnable and that the current representative, Copeland, did not represent her interest or the interests of anyone she knew.

Leigh says she is qualified for this position because of her extensive legal background. She owns her own practice, is a certified mediator, was a member of several boards in law school and served on the fair housing commission.

“The public should demand a representative that is actually a representative of your people. I worry about the same things that everyone else is worried about,” Leigh said.

She described herself as “a progressive wife and mother” with the same priorities as the community around her: Her family and her small business.

Education is one of the main issues that Leigh is concerned about and she plans to advocate for an all-around strengthened curriculum and push for universal pre-K.

Leigh said, “Quality pre-Kis an investment for Arkansas that leverages the key brain development in children at that age, puts them on the right track to succeed in school, is a proven effective crime prevention tool, and which has an almost immeasurable financial return for our economy in direct and indirect fashions.”

“Investing money now saves us money down the road in other social and criminal justice programs, prisons, creates jobs and improves quality of life,” Leigh added.

She said that long-term success for Arkansas depends on education, and that a skilled workforce attracts businesses.

Leigh also wants to focus on issues like senior hunger and disagrees with the recent $1 million cut from the budget for state senior citizen centers and Meals on Wheels. She said that senior care is “hugely important to the community” and that Hays Senior Center in North Little Rock is the most visited senior center in the state.

“The endorsements I’m most proud of are those of the people in my district,” Leigh said. “I’m very proud of where I’m from, and I’ll work to improve the lives of each of us and do everything I can to reach the potential of our state and our district.”

Republican Wing, 49, is a former sportscaster and television host and now owns his own business, Wing Media Group, which produces outdoor-related television programs.

Wing grew up in North Little Rock and is a 1985 graduate of Northeast High School in North Little Rock. He earned his undergraduate degree in broadcast communications at Brigham Young University in Utah, followed by a master’s in business administration at Harding University in Searcy.

Wing lives in North Little Rock with his wife Leigh. They have four children — two daughters, who have graduated from North Little Rock High School, and two sons, one a sophomore at North Little Rock High School and the other a student at Crestwood Elementary.

“The short answer, it’s an opportunity to leverage good,” Wing said when asked why he was running for state representative. He said that he’s always been interested in public service, but now the timing is finally right.

“The true reason is wrapped up in our slogan, ‘Let’s Work Together,’” Wing said.

Wing said, “A lot of people have become disenchanted with the tone of current politics,” both locally and nationally, and he wants to change that.

As far as specific legislation goes, Wing only listed his support of pre-K as an option and not a requirement for all schools.

“There’s a big difference between offering and mandating. (Pre-K is a) wonderful option, but it should be an option, not a mandate,” Wing said.

Wing’s main platform is bringing people together on a variety of issues. “Get the people talking again,” he said.

According to Wing, he is endorsed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Lieutenant Gov. Tim Griffin, as well as the North Little Rock police and fire departments.

Wing said it “means a lot to be trusted by the people that protect and maintain the society that we have — a society that allows people to do what they want in life: to grow and learn and thrive.”

“I’ve gotten to experience that in my life and I want everyone to have that same opportunity,” Wing said.

Early voting starts Monday, Oct. 24.