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OPINION | EDITORIAL: Down the ballot

Other races are important too October 22, 2020 at 3:38 a.m.

Canned Editorial No. 641 is the one that newspapers use during the campaign season, sometimes the day after Election Day, to thank all the candidates who took the time to run this year. Because, after all, there's a lot of expense involved. And a lot of effort. And we don't just mean kissing babies. But also all the walking it takes, plus knocking on doors.

This year, however, we hear that few candidates are knocking on doors. And if you try to kiss a baby in late 2020, you might get your block knocked off.

So much is virtual. One candidate told us (via Zoom) that he wouldn't dare knock on a door right now--it might offend a voter. Candidates say they've taken to mail, or had volunteers simply hang push cards on doorknobs. And, of course, those Zoom town halls.

A lot of space has been used and misused over various campaigns this year. But there are other races besides president and Little Rock's new school board. More endorsements could come anytime, so keep an eye out. Today we'd recommend:

Years ago--decades ago, actually--a new editorial writer came to town, and before he could adopt a favorite diner, Joan Adcock grabbed him by the elbow and showed him around some of Little Rock's most challenging neighborhoods. She's a non-stop advocate for the least among these, and has been for years. The Position 10 at-large city director was first elected to the City Board in 1992. She's spent many years establishing neighborhood associations and founded the Hope Center welfare-to-work nonprofit. Her habit of working with the "business community"--those who provide jobs--should be an automatic check in her favor. Too often these days, in some quarters at least, it is not.

Here, it still is. We recommend Joan Adcock for another term.

Dr. Dean Kumpuris, another at-large member of the Little Rock City Board, can be found all around. Including all around the newspaper. From the High Profile section to the Outdoors section. Recently, he was featured in Bryan Hendricks' column, about an island the city was exploring for use near the Clinton Presidential Center.

The practicing gastroenterologist has been serving Little Rock nearly as long as Joan Adcock. He can be found pushing for body cameras for Little Rock police at director meetings or promoting the sculpture garden by the Arkansas River in his off time. Every government body needs a gentleman, and gentle man, like Dean Kumpuris, speaking for the people. Fortunately, voters in Little Rock can keep him on board another term.

In the Position 9 seat for Little Rock City Board, we are impressed with both David Alan Bubbus and Antwan Phillips, although they can't both be elected, unfortunately.

David Alan Bubbus is a 40-year-old businessman who owns some David's Burgers outlets in central Arkansas. As the owner of a business, he seems to know the foolishness of "radical measures," as he calls Defunding The Police. But also as the owner of a business that serves the whole of a community, he also seems to understand how the killings of members of any community by police sets people to protest.

Attorney Antwan Phillips says he's worked with small-business owners in his role over the years. According to our story, he says the city should be held accountable for every dollar spent, and he would like to see changes for disclosure requirements for officers who've been accused of misconduct. Both of which sound responsible.

Jane English is the sitting chairwoman of the state Senate Education Committee, and is somehow not an opponent of school choice or charters. It is refreshing to have somebody with the right priorities in positions of power. And what should be a higher priority than the wants and needs of families in Arkansas?

The papers say that the Senate District 34 incumbent is being criticized for her vote last year to create tax credits for those who want to contribute to help low-income students attend private schools. These days, that is a position for which you receive criticism. (Sigh.)

Jane English is also pro-life, a supporter of a work requirement for Medicaid expansion, and voted for tort reform. All of which recommends her. And her campaign.

Bob Thomas drew Clarke Tucker as an opponent in the race for state Senate District 32. So this will not be an easy one for the Republicans. Clarke Tucker almost went to Congress. Then again, Bob Thomas challenged Vic Snyder in 2000, so both candidates in this race are old pros.

Bob Thomas says he's pro-choice--lower-cased pro-choice, that is--when it comes to schools. The former military man said he is a former Democrat, but by 1994 he thought the Republican Party best served the people with low taxes and efficient government. "That's what I'm all about." He hopes to eliminate the personal property tax so, in his words, Arkansans don't have to pay taxes when they make money, pay taxes when they spend it on a truck, then pay it again each after that. Good idea. Of which Bob Thomas has several.

Carlton Wing's opponent in the House District 28 race has focused on a couple of the state rep's previous votes, including some on the minimum wage. It's as if Carlton Wing understands that raising the minimum wage has negative effects, such as pricing many people, including teens, out of the market. And such things should be considered before increasing the wage without thought.

Also, Rep. Wing voted to create a scholarship program for low-income children to attend private schools in Pulaski County. For the education establishment, this was an attempt to take money away from them. For representatives like Carlton Wing, it was an effort to help students.

Folks on the side of school choice have no better friend than Mark Lowery. The state rep currently in the House District 39 seat not only supports school choice, but has led on the various "Tim Tebow" rules that allow home-schoolers to participate in extracurricular activities at public and private schools. He's been endorsed by Arkansas Right to Life. But he also stresses the needs of education. He's a reliable conservative, but as a governor named Huckabee used to say, he's not mad about it. We recommend Mark Lowery for re-election.

There might have to be a new award invented, perhaps by David Bazzel: The most impressive candidate of the year who didn't get the local paper's endorsement. This year would be a tough vote. Ali Noland? Dr. Kieng "Bao" Vang-Dings? Or perhaps Ashley Hudson, running for state representative in west Little Rock.

Counselor Hudson is running against Jim Sorvillo in House District 32, a reliable conservative representative seeking re-election in the district. His views closer align to our own on issues such as charter schools and school choice, as well as a work requirement for this state's Medicaid expansion. He's been endorsed by the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police and is supported by Arkansas Right to Life, as well as the "business community," according to the papers.

The stories about this race involve sign-stealing and the challenger's haul in fund-raising. And the incumbent's years-long effort to protect animals in various bills, which many folks would like to see happen, if the Ledge only would.

We recommend Jim Sorvillo in the upcomin', but he'll have to stay on his toes.


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