Two Grant County men are facing each other in the race for District 15 of the Arkansas House of Representatives in the Tuesday general election.
Republican Ken Bragg and Democrat Charles Tadlock are seeking the seat in the redrawn district which includes a portion of Grant, Hot Spring and Jefferson counties, much of that the White Hall area.
Bragg, a member of the Sheridan City Council for 16 years, is regional manager for Resource Management, formerly International Paper Co., and said he had 39 years of “business and economic background and I think I can add something to the legislature.”
He said one of the major issues this year is jobs and economic development.
“There are no easy answers,” Bragg said. “I believe in taking a strong regional approach but I also believe we need well educated workers and we’ve got a shortage of good trained technical workers like welders and technicians.
“Over the last 10 years or so, a lot of our two year colleges have migrated to carrying more academic subjects and neglected vocational technician subjects,” Bragg said.
He said public education is also facing challenges, particularly financial challenges, and said studies have shown that success and achievements, particularly in the area of early childhood education are low in the state.
“We need to place more emphasis on early childhood education, and one adult education because a lot of the people in Arkansas do not have a high school degree so they’re not involved in the education of their children,” Bragg said, mentioning for example children whose parents read to them are more likely to do better in school.
“We have good teachers and I think the funding is adequate but there are intangibles,” he said. “Its’ not fair to ask them to address social issues but unfortunately we do.”
Bragg said he believed Medicare and educational issues will dominate the 2013 session of the general assembly.
“There are going to be some hard decisions that are going to have to be made there,” he said.
Bragg said while he is a conservative and running as a Republican, he filed as a Democrat for the Sheridan City Council “because there was never an organized Republican Committee in Grant County and I was told there had to be an organized committee for me to run as a Republican.”
He said he and a group of others formed the first Republican Central Committee in Grant County last year.
“I’ve worked on budgets, and economic cycles, and I understand the budget process,” Bragg said.
Democrat Charles Tadlock, also of Sheridan, is a retired educator and a member of the Sheridan School Board.
He said one of the major issues this year is jobs and improving the economy.
“This district is a little better than some other districts because there’s a little less unemployment in White Hall and Sheridan than there is in some other areas but there’s still room for improvement,” Tadlock said. “We’ve got to continue to improve education because that’s going to be a key.”
Tadlock, who was principal of Sheridan Middle School before his retirement, said he was “against vouchers” that would allow people to enroll their children in any school.
“I’m concerned about the quality of education some of those kids might receive,” he said. “While most of them do a good job, there’s always the possibility of fraud there.”
Tadlock said he was for promoting business and believed that keeping the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund fully funded is important for the state.
While he would support tax breaks for small businesses, Tadlock said it is just as important to “reduce some of the rules and regulations that are placed on them.
“I wouldn’t support anything that would hurt the environment or the health of workers but I think sometimes there is a case of overkill,” he said. “For example having inspectors from three different agencies look at the same thing.
Tadlock said he also supported having an effective state forestry commission.
“They had some problems earlier that caused them to lose some firefighters until the money could be found, “he said. “That’s something that’s important to Hot Spring, Grant and Jefferson Counties.
Tadlock said he favored the expansion of Medicare because it would “help an additional 250,000 people.”
“We need to give it a chance to work and it if doesn’t work, we need to try something else,” he said.
As a retired educator, Tadlock said he would oppose efforts to reduce state benefits for government employees or teachers, “benefits people have planned their futures around.”