Issues

Investing in Public Education & Children | Democracy Matters | Quality of Life | Child Care | New Technologies that Create Jobs | Divisiveness in our Civic Life | Women’s Rights | LGBTQ | Cannabis | Common Sense Gun Responsibility 

Investing in Public Education & Children

Arkansas children deserve a world class education to meet the needs of the 21st century workforce. Our current legislative majority though—lacks the will to do better by our children and community

  • Investing state dollars in public education to decrease class sizes, increasing teacher pay, and helping school districts with physical infrastructure helps to keep schools safe and the buildings last longer.
  • Smaller class sizes equate to better outcomes for students. And it’s not just teachers who support this fact.
  • Increasing teacher pay doesn’t just mean a better quality of life for our teachers, it directly leads to better outcomes and test scores for our children. 
  • When upgrading and modernizing current schools, “Line of Sight” entrances so the front office can immediately see if a stranger enters the building are a good common sense safety feature. 
  • School infrastructure keeps our schools lasting longer and will go a long way in getting public education on the right track. 

Most of the anti-public education rhetoric driven by my opponents and their political allies is around the efforts to increase the number of so-called “Scholarship” grants that aims to privatize our public education system. 

These “Scholarships” are NOT about increasing the number of disabled children receiving direct services. 

My opponent wants to increase the number of children using the so-called “Scholarship” term so privatization won’t sting as much—IF he and his other legislative anti-public education partners get their way. 

One of the most significant challenges faced by employers in our state is an educated pool of applicants. One reason is that we are hemorrhaging teachers to nearby states because our teacher salaries are so low. We can do Better!

Democracy Matters! 

Our country is a republic. The type of republic we have– is a democracy

The right to vote in our democracy is exactly that—it is a RIGHT, not a privilege.  It is our responsibility to vote. I believe in fair elections and that every legal vote should be counted. Historically, Arkansas has had one of the lowest voter turnouts in the nation—only 40% of our eligible voters turned out in 2020. I believe what they say about rights and responsibilities – if you don’t exercise them, they can easily be removed.

Deliberate impediments, such as overly stringent ID laws and restrictions on when someone can register (in person NOT online) that make it harder for our citizenry to vote is shameful. The Legislature should do everything in its power to make sure that all eligible Arkansans can vote and that their vote will be counted.

  • An “No Excuse:Absentee” system or vote by mail system makes it easier for folks to cast their ballot– whether its for seniors, people with disabilities or people who work non-traditional hours, like graveyard or swing shifts. Our citizens would be able to vote in the convenience of their own homes, stick a stamp on the envelope and pop it in the mail or drop it off at designated and secure drop box locations. 
  • Currently, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, New York, Illinois, Hawaii, and California all vote by mail, and many other states in their smaller down-ticket races like city council and school board use vote-by-mail.  Not only that, it’s the fiscally responsible thing to do with our tax dollars—it’s less expensive than poll voting. 
  • So many Arkansans already vote by mail via absentee—it’s easy, safe and folks can take a look at the candidates’ websites in their own homes, taking their time with their decisions without all the “noise” of social media and TV ads. 
  • Absentee Voting by Mail is how members of our Armed Forces and citizens abroad cast their ballots.
  • A nonpartisan commission for redistricting and redrawing maps every 10 years – 
    • Currently the role of redistricting is shared by partisan office holders who benefit from the outcome.  By creating a non-partisan citizen commission, we take the opportunity for grift away from those who could benefit from the outcome. 
  • A proven strategy to increase voter participation is automatic voter registration.
    • Unless the citizen indicates otherwise and wants to opt-out due to religious or other personal considerations, Arkansas should automatically register people to vote when they turn 18, or renew their driver’s license, or do a change of address form if they move.  We currently ask people if they would like to register, we have the information necessary to register, we should facilitate automatic voter registration for Arkansans. Some states already have this system set up.

Our Paychecks, Our Pensions & Our Quality of Life

My campaign motto is “We All Do Better When We All Do Better!” And for good reason. 

Arkansas is home to some of America’s hardest working families, but many are juggling 2 or more jobs and are still struggling financially. Arkansas reported a poverty rate of 17.2% in 2020 – 6th highest among all states. 

People should not HAVE to work multiple jobs in order to make ends meet, or work full time and still fall below the poverty line and be dependent on public assistance. But, here in Arkansas—we see this all the time.  

We can do better. 

My professional life has been devoted to fighting for justice and equality for people.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt said it best when he quipped, —“A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work…” can lift all economic boats. 

  • Arkansas needs to eliminate the current “Tip-Credit” law that allows employers to only pay $2.13 an hour for their tipped employees. It requires their employees to depend on tips for a majority of their pay. 
      •  In the 1970’s when the tip-credit was instituted, the minimum wage was just under $5.00 an hour and the tip-credit has never been adjusted to reflect the increase in the minimum wage. 
  • Employers need to pay their workers a living wage so the rest of us aren’t picking up the tab with our tax dollars for irresponsible and bad corporate neighbors.  
  • Employers need to pay their fair share in taxes so working people can keep more of their paychecks.

Child Care

We need to get a handle on the cost of childcare in Arkansas, which has the second-lowest cost of living in the United States, yet child care services remain unaffordable for up to 82% of residents. 

  • Residents of Arkansas pay $574 per month for infant care – or $6,890 per year on average.  Child care for a four-year-old is slightly more affordable, costing an average of $457 per month.* 
  • Child care costs are one of the biggest impacts to a family budget, sometimes matching housing costs. Arkansas should lead on family issues, by enacting paid leave, higher child care tax credits, and subsidization of child care costs for working families.
  • Implementing universal pre-k for all entering 4 year olds will begin to address the cost of childcare to families and establish a strong educational foundation for Arkansas youngsters.

We can do better.

Investing in Our State with New Technologies that Create Jobs:

Transportation and Infrastructure

According to the US Department of Transportation, there are 663 bridges and over 6,711 miles of highway in poor condition in our Arkansas. Since 2011, commute times have increased by 3% in Arkansas, and on average, each driver pays $671 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair.  

We can do better.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system. Based on formula funding alone, Arkansas would expect to receive approximately $3.8 billion over five years in Federal highway formula funding for highways and bridges. On an average annual basis, this is about 32% more than the State’s Federal-aid highway formula funding under current law.  

Arkansas needs to invest in the technologies of today and for the future, like electric cars and wind power. If elected as state representative, I will advocate for these technologies that bring good jobs for our people and families to the state. 

Additionally, investing and accelerating Arkansas’ transition to renewable energy will create thousands of new, GOOD paying jobs.

Renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuels and will lower energy costs for Arkansas households and businesses. With the advent of Net-Metering we follow the recommended credit process for energy going back into the grid, which helps consumers.

>a id=”divisive”>Divisiveness in our Civic Life:

Manufactured social “crisis” issues are set into play by forces that wish to divide Arkansans. I am running for the Arkansas legislature because we need to be focusing on the things that bring us together to solve the real problems of our state.

There is so much more that unites us, than what divides us. 

Reproductive Rights & Health Care for Women

The decision to have an abortion or not is one that should be made by the patient, and her doctor. Abortion should be safe, legal, accessible, and rare as it has been for 50 years.

  • The partisan legislative majority spent much time in the 2021 session stripping women of their reproductive rights and implementing of Arkansas’ “Trigger Law.” 
  • These actions were a reversal of 50 years of precedent of Roe vs Wade. The Arkansas Legislature should be working to increase health care access, birth control availability, and services. Our state and federal governments should not be interfering with such an extremely personal medical decision.

I am unashamedly and unabashedly pro-choice. 

I am a strong supporter of the work Planned Parenthood does for women, men, and families. Women should not have to ask for a permission slip from a legislator to make decisions about their personal health. 

LGBTQ

My first foray into politics was to defeat an anti gay measure in Washington State and my activism for equality hasn’t stopped in 30 years. I say with pride that in 2016 I was the national field director for LGBTQ Outreach for a presidential campaign. When I was growing up, there wasn’t representation for many communities in America. 

Over the course of my life, we have become a more diverse nation, and I think we are better for it. I want kids in Arkansas who are wondering “who they are” to know there are lots of people in the world who are asking that question, and they are not alone. 

I want today’s youth to be able to be the best they can be whoever they are, and plan to continue to be a strong and the best role model I can be for Arkansas youth. 

No one should have to be defined by gender or sexual orientation; we should be defined by the values we instill in our future generations. 

I am someone who is Queer. I am also a spouse, businessperson, parent, grandparent and taxpayer.

Cannabis

Arkansas currently has legal medicinal marijuana and I understand the impact of specific terpenes and how beneficial it can be treating pain without opioids. Marijauna has shown to be effective in helping millions of patients with a myriad of issues. 

There are easy legislative fixes that the legislature can do and I would support:

  • Increase the speed of renewals and,
  • Increase the number of employees who work at the Department of Health.  

I support decriminalizing cannabis and allowing those who have been incarcerated for nonviolent marijuana offenses, to have their records expunged and cleared.  

Common Sense Gun Responsibility 

I support common sense gun responsibility.

I grew up outside of the city limits in Northeast  Arkansas. I was 11 when I got my first BB gun. I still remember what a pain it was to fill the chamber with BB’s! My Dad spent a few hours teaching me how to shoot. We had some land in Melbourne and he and my brother would hunt deer and I would shoot barns.  

In college, my elective one semester was sharpshooting through the ROTC. I appreciate the sport associated with firearms, but, with 110 Americans a day being killed by guns, we can do better.

Federal law requires background checks on all gun sales from licensed firearm dealers to ensure that gun buyers are legally allowed to purchase a firearm. For decades lawmakers have talked about “closing the gun show  loophole”. With the spate of mass shootings our country has experienced in the past 10 years, we need to act sooner rather than later. 

As a legislator, I would work to  promote firearm responsibility by: 

  • Raising the age of eligibility for purchasing a firearm to 21. Too many young people have easier access to guns than they do alcohol, and we know both can kill. By raising the age of eligibility, we can save lives. 
  • Set up a system that keeps people who are in an emotional crisis from being able to purchase a gun–also known as “Red Flag Laws.”