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Focus on: Bill Walker

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Bill Walker

Age: 44

Lives: Chenal Valley, but filed from a residence downtown.

Campaign website:

Campaign financing: Raised $35,000-$40,000

Career/experience: Managing partner of Premier Funeral Homes and president of Platinum Management. Member of the state Parole Board since 2004. Former state senator from 1995-2003, former state representative from 1987-95 and former member of the Pulaski County Quorum Court from 1985-86.

Why he is running: “You have four candidates — all have a record of public service. I think it is extremely important to evaluate the records. More than what they say, it shows what they’re about and what they will do. I’m calling for seven debates, one in each ward. I’ll ask the League of Women Voters to facilitate.”

“I want to implement the priorities outlined by Vision Little Rock. The board has cherry-picked the issues most favorable to them to implement. That’s not fair to those of us who served.”

“People need to make a decision based on what they see as the long-term best interests of the city. If you want to keep things as they are, there is a candidate who represents that. There is a candidate who will make law and order his bailiwick. I’m someone who is holistic, not just someone who says lock them up and throw away the key. I served on a statewide task force on prison recidivism. We need more prevention. We also need to look at economic development, to create opportunities for people who made mistakes. Offer them a sincere second chance. As a member of the parole board, I see who has trouble finding a job. We need to give people a chance to succeed, through rehabilitation, education and training.”

County jail tax: “I’m against the jail tax, because it’s a very short-term Band-Aid solution. I would rather see a larger tax that provides more significant dollars for prevention, intervention and treatment, as well as economic development and job creation.”

Mayoral powers/Form of government: “The leader of the capital city needs to have the necessary tools to work with to make the city better. I would fully implement the Vision Little Rock recommendations. The mayor needs to be full-time, with expanded pay, a larger staff, the authority to appoint all boards and commissions with council confirmation, and veto authority. Two-hundred to 300 citizens said this is what we want you to do. I would also be open to changing the form of government. I think we have city government by committee. There are too many junior mayors. It is difficult to be effective in its current form.”

Would you act to change it?: “Yes. Part of my first state of the city address would be to move ahead on the things in Vision Little Rock. Give the position of mayor the tools to be a more effective ambassador for the city and effectively represent the city. And strengthen the position to give him the time he needs to do the job. Most people can’t afford to run for mayor, which is almost shameful. We want to recruit good people into the system, but they can’t support themselves and their families to do the job. It is a full-time job and we are fooling ourselves if we say it’s not.”

How?: “I will utilize the mayoral pulpit to continue to raise the issues I believe in and try convince my colleagues on the board. If I’m not successful there, I will have to lead an effort, probably by initiated act. It sounds self-serving to head an effort to empower myself, but we’re talking about the position of mayor, not a person.”

Impact fees: “I’m open to impact fees. We’ve got to look at it. With more development, there is more impact on our current inner-city areas. We have to address that. Maybe the time has come for impact fees. I don’t think it should slow the growth in West Little Rock, though. We need balanced growth, and we need to be able to afford to take care of what we have.”

Summit Mall: “More of those shopping villages is what I’d like to see us do. A huge mall way out somewhere, I’m not sure that is the best thing for the city. It would be better to focus on smaller projects spread around the city. I’d like to see one in the Colonel Glenn/Asher Avenue corridor, to reinvest and revitalize that area.”

Smoking ordinances: “I supported the smoking ordinance. The initial implication is financial, but we’ll see what that impact is. It’s the best thing they could have done. It’s better for the employees and the people.”

Biggest personal weakness or criticism: “My strong personality. I fight for what I believe. I actually believe that is a strength. I also think it’s important to build consensus once I decide something is worth fighting for.”

Race as a campaign factor: “I hope not. I’m obviously realistic, but it’s something I would fight hard against. It’s not an issue for me. People come from different perspectives in life. I hope that is not how a majority of the citizens in Little Rock feel.”

Other priorities: “I want to appoint an economic development and job creation advisory committee to advise the mayor on things we could be doing to recruit industry.”

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