L.J. Bryant, a candidate for land commissioner, calls attention to a campaign theme of another candidate for the office, state Rep. Monty Davenport. Davenport has been quoted as saying (and also here) that he doesn't favor being on the "cutting edge" of innovation in the office, but on the "trailing edge" by adopting practices perfected in other states. He says he wants to be sure new technology works before he buys it.
(Working for a low-cost news operation,I understand the attraction in being a late adopter of new technology.) Bryant sees the land commissioner's office differently and he's been pushing use of satellite mapping to enhance marketing of tax-delinquent land. In a note to me, he wrote:
Obviously, I couldn’t disagree more vehemently with Mr. Davenport’s opinion. I cannot imagine our Governor or any other constitutional officer wanting Arkansas to be on the “trailing edge” of utilizing the most advanced technology available to keep up with important state records and data. Furthermore, Mr. Davenport’s idea of waiting around to see what neighboring states might be doing, shows that he has no plan at all for the office of Land Commissioner and is up to the task of keeping Arkansas ranked 49th or 50th in so many categories.
Max, short of being labeled a negative campaigner, how in this world do the people of our state learn about this type of backward thinking?
An issue in the land commissioner's race? THAT is cutting edge.
UPDATE: Davenport issues a statement that he supports technological advances, but wants to spend wisely.
I am committed to making the office of Land Commissioner work for the people of Arkansas including incorporating proven technology that will make the office more efficient.
I am proud of the achievments Arkansas has made in recent years during my time in the House of Representatives. Arkansas has been rising in rankings for education, economic climate and per-capita income. Those who insist that Arkansas remains at the bottom of the list perpetuate outdated negative stereotypes that do none of us any good.
Part of the way we've improved Arkansas's national standing is through our fiscal responsibility. It is this same responsibility I plan to bring with me to the Land Commissioner's Office.
I am all for embracing technological advances that can help the office operate cheaper and more efficiently.
But what I will not do in these challenging economic hard times will be to commit to spending or talk about spending taxpayer dollars on programs that are being pushed by candidates running for the office.
What I've been saying and continue to say is simply that I prefer to make sure that any equipment, services or practices are well established before investing Arkansas taxpayer money in them.
Clearly my opponent is trying to take the focus off of his lack of experience. I am only candidate in the race who has the experience at the capitol and proven leadership to be trusted to manage taxpayer dollars.