ON THE STATE ISSUES: Frank Scott, Warwick Sabin and Baker Kurrus are more alike than different.
Some big elections face voters this year, including the hot race for Little Rock mayor and, depending on court actions, as many as five very big statewide ballot issues. I decided to sample the five mayoral candidates on the ballot issues,
because I think they say a lot about candidates philosophically. In the end, the big three candidates — Frank Scott Jr., Warwick Sabin and Baker Kurrus
— were more alike than different, with Sabin the most decisive.
On Sept. 8, I asked:
Do you support or oppose?
1) Issue One: Tort reform.
2) Issue Two: Voter identification
3) Issue Three: Term limits
4) Issue Four: Casino gambling
5) Issue Five: Minimum wage.
I said I was primarily seeking support/oppose answers, but I'd accept elaboration and said I'd run responses in full. Warwick Sabin, Vincent Tolliver and
Glen Schwarz responded the next day. Baker Kurrus followed a day later. Frank Scott sent me his answers this morning.
What they said, in alphabetical order.
I want to build strong local coalitions to solve local issues, like crime, local infrastructure, education, economic development and the like. The key to local cooperation with respect to such issues is to build partnerships that transcend traditional political divisions. For example, people who want adequate funding for our city's first responders need to pull together, regardless of their opinions on these issues. I would respect anyone's own decisions with respect to these matters,
and will work as mayor across any perceived divisions which are generated by them.
With that said, here is where I am on these issues, as I sit here, sweating, after a bike ride at the river:
Issue One is off the ballot. I had grave concerns about it, especially about the separation of powers issues. I strongly feel that the Supreme Court should keep rulemaking authority.
Issue Two. I am against this. I have not seen any evidence or data which suggests that we have problems with unauthorized or illegal voting. Unless that evidence is presented, I would not favor anything that limits, restricts or even chills the rights and opportunities we have to vote. It is a fundamental right that should not be further regulated unless compelling evidence exists of a need to do so. I have not seen any evidence.
Issue Three. The expansion of term limits in the so-called ethics bill was a bad trade. The current limits are too long. Now we are faced with a term limits initiative that is very short- too short in my opinion. It may pass based on the recent news coming out of the capitol. I have not decided what to do, but am leaning in favor of this.
Issue Four. I will vote against this. I don't care if people want to gamble for entertainment. We have ample opportunity for that already. This type of activity seems to me to be a tax on productivity, often paid by those who can least afford to pay it. There is no requirement that the state revenue be
used for roads, which I think is misleading.
Issue Five. There are good arguments on both sides of this issue. We need a national policy so that we in Arkansas remain competitive. This proposal may limit some job growth at the entry level, and hurt some student employment. I want higher wages for higher productivity. I also don't think minimum wage requirements belong in our state constitution. I am undecided on this at this point,
but probably will vote in favor of it unless there is compelling evidence that it will hurt entry level
These are my unvarnished views. I hope this exercise is not divisive or damaging to our ability to pull together and solve our local issues, which are increasingly pressing and urgent.
Per your request:
1) Issue One: Tort reform. OPPOSE
2) Issue Two: Voter identification. OPPOSE
3) Issue Three: Term limits. OPPOSE
4) Issue Four: Casino gambling. OPPOSE
5) Issue Five: Minimum wage. SUPPORT
1) Issue One: Tort reform. Support: Jackpot justice makes me sick.
2) Issue Two: Voter identification. Support, I've shown my ID in every election since I was 18.
3) Issue Three: Term limits. Support. Term limits was
overturned by hook and crook.
4) Issue Four: Casino gambling. Oppose. The 3 hour
drive to Tunica keeps me out of the casino every day.
5) Issue Five: Minimum wage. Oppose. The Janitors make as much as the engineers.
FRANK SCOTT JR.
Issue One: Tort Reform. I recognize there is a need to rethink our state’s legal system in a way that protects families in dire circumstances, attracts jobs, and stimulates economic opportunity. If Issue One is placed back on the ballot, I intend to vote "NO".
Issue Two: Voter identification. I strongly oppose Issue Two. It is a solution in search of a problem. I intend to vote “NO” on Issue Two.
Issue Three: Term limits. I think the best term limits are at the ballot box. Term limits don't discriminate between elected officials that do their jobs and those that don't; voters do. And I think the best term limits are the ones we already impose during election cycles. I intend to vote "NO" on Issue Three.
Issue Four: Casino gambling. Personally, I continue to have concerns about gambling. l recognize forms of gambling already exist in Arkansas and serves as a stimulus for economic development. As a candidate for Mayor, I believe that decision-making ought to happen closest to affected areas. We're already seeing revenues from Arkansas go elsewhere for casino gambling that could otherwise be spent and reinvested in our state. In the spirit of transparency, I intend to vote “No” on Issue 4,
but am open to learning more about its economic effects on the affected areas prior to Election Day.
Issue Five: Minimum wage. I intend to vote "YES" on Issue Five.
I Oppose Tort Reform. Just like the Republicans in this state have done everything they can to erode public education (including changing Arkansas law so the unqualified Johnny Key could become ADE Commissioner) and promote charter schools, those same Republicans, through so-called tort reform, are attempting to erode/cap entitled financial redress in tort cases.
I Oppose Voter Identification. It further disenfranchises the poor and people of color.
I Support Term Limits.
I Support Casino Gambling,
if we can find a way to increase teachers' salaries from the revenue.
I Support Increasing Minimum Wage, but minimum wage isn't enough. I support A Living Wage where basic needs can be met and childcare can be adequately addressed. With minimum wage, you can do neither.