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The former superintendent of Woolly Hollow State Park in Faulkner County announced recently that he plans to run as a Democrat for the seat held by state Rep. Stephen Meeks, R-Greenbrier.

"I've always been interested in politics," said Steve Wilson, adding that he never had time to run while working for what is now called the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

The 63-year-old said he would run on a platform favoring public education -- but against the expansion of vouchers and charter schools -- as well as accessibility.

Wilson said that at this time, he would not bring up any disagreements with Meeks' voting record.

Meeks, 48, is a five-term incumbent and the most senior member of the House. He chairs the Joint Committee on Advanced Communications and Information Technology.

On Wednesday, Meeks said he would run for re-election in District 67, which stretches from Greenbrier to Vilonia in Faulkner County.

"The district I represent is a strong, conservative, Republican district," said Meeks, adding that he has "one of the strongest" conservative voting records in the House.

If re-elected, Meeks said he would push legislation to increase data usage and sharing among state agencies, to make them "smarter and more efficient and better for the citizens to interact with."

He also said he would push for a constitutional amendment to phase out personal property taxes.

Wilson said he supports the state's private-option Medicaid expansion program, which uses mostly federal funds pay for the health insurance of about 250,000 low-income Arkansans.

Earlier this year, Meeks voted to approve continued funding for the program. He said that a work requirement, approved by the Legislature, had made the program "easier to support."

The work requirement, which led to more than 18,000 people being kicked off the program for noncompliance, is currently on pause while the courts review its legality. If the requirement is nixed, Meeks said he would oppose continuing to fund Medicaid expansion.

Wilson also expressed an interest in the task force set up by Gov. Asa Hutchinson to examine the condition of the state's levees, after severe floods affected much of the Arkansas River levee system earlier this year. Wilson said he wants the Legislature's next regular session, in 2021, to focus on issues related to flooding and the levee infrastructure.

"A lot of people that I know in this area ... there's farmers that never got their crops planted," he said.

On the issue of gun violence, Wilson said he supports expanding background checks, but "needs to look at" so-called red flag laws. Red flag laws, advocated by several Democrats in the Legislature, would allow for a judicial order to temporarily seize weapons from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

Meeks said he is "open to exploring" expanded background checks but opposes red flag laws.

Metro on 09/27/2019

Print Headline: Democrat to seek District 67 seat

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