Candidates for county, state and national office expressed their intentions and desires Sept. 4 in a debate at Mammoth Spring during Solemn Old Judge Days.
District 82 seat
Three candidates for Arkansas House of Representatives District 82 -- Curren Everett (D), Diane Turner (R) and Linn Garner (I) -- gave reasons why they should be elected.
Everett said he was the strongest candidate because he would work with all lawmakers, regardless of their political affiliation, to improve the lives people in District 82.
He said in the current diverse spectrum of politics a moderate with experience is what residents in the area need. "The voters in this area know what I can do and how hard I'll work if I'm elected," he said.
Turner said her primary focus would be reducing the tax burden on families in the district.
She said her experience as a member of the Baxter County Quorum Court gives her an advantage over Everett and Garner. "Unlike my opponents in this race I have had to work with budgets, and I know the importance of local government. I love this place and will fight for everyone," she said.
Garner said voters should vote for him if they want a representative who would stand up for rural schools.
"The programs being instituted in the state Legislature will lead to socialized education. School children are better served when control over their education is in the hands of the communities they're growing up in and not in the hands of politicians somewhere else," he said.
Everett, Turner and Garner all said that economic expansion in the area would be a top priority for them if elected.Fulton County Judge
In the Fulton County Judge' race, Charles Willet (D) did not attend the debate.
His opponent, Gary Phillips (R), said he would improve the county's roads and assist local law enforcement fighting the area's growing methamphetamine problem.
He said as judge he would take steps to stimulate economic growth. "We need to encourage our young people to come back to Fulton County after they graduate from college and start businesses," Phillips said.
He said people with local ties to the community need to have more control in the local economy.
1st Congressional District
Incumbent Marion Berry (D) and challenger Vernon Humphrey (R) presented their stances on several issues.
Humphrey said his focus as a congressman would be to improve the transportation infrastructure of northeastern Arkansas. He said without better roads, Arkansas will lose manufacturing jobs to Tennessee over the next 20 years.
A Vietnam veteran, Humphrey said he would support troops in combat and curtail anti-war movements at home.
"Our enemies around the world learned one thing about us during the Vietnam War. If they kill enough of our people then the resolve of some Americans can be challenged," he said.
Berry said he would continue to focus on the economy, supporting our soldiers in Iraq and stopping pharmaceutical companies from taking advantage of the poor and elderly.
When asked why he voted against several of President Bush's tax cuts, he said he was in favor of cutting taxes but the government would have to cut spending as well.
"What President Bush is doing is fiscally irresponsible, and our record setting national debt is the proof," said Berry.
Humprey and Berry both support anti-abortion laws and a federal ban on gay marriage.
A second candidate debate is slated for October in Salem.