Senate candidate forum debate attracts a big crowd

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

"You get in the game--you participate," said Republican Candidate, Kim Hendren.

In a United States Senate race that's garnering local and national attention, the spotlight was on Jonesboro Thursday night.

"We're just thrilled that they're that interested in our part of the state," said Beverly McCollum.

McCollum is the Chair of the Governmental Affairs Commission at the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"Everybody's got a role to play in the issues that are being discussed,"Republican Candidate, Gilbert Baker.

8 of the candidates vying for that seat, currently held by Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln, tackled topics from health care to jobs.

"We've got to put our economy back on track.   We've got to put 100 thousand Arkansans' back to work," said Democratic Candidate, Blanche Lincoln.

"Business, particularly small business, is the backbone of the country," said Republican Candidate, John Boozman.

"People are concerned and they have problems associated with the lack of jobs," said Ben Owens.  Owens attended Thursday night's event.

"Then I got into this race because I felt like my voice wasn't being heard," Republican Candidate, Fred Ramey.

"It was full of questions that I think we all as concerned citizens talk about at the dinner table," said Martie Shull.

Martie Shull says the questions about agriculture, jobs, and health care affect not just Arkansans, but all Americans.  She says the gathering of the candidates and Q & A forum to address those issues is the American way.

"We don't have to agree with them, but we do need to hear what they believe and how they are committed--this is what came across," said Shull.

"Our country is too important, what we stand to lose is too important," said Republican Candidate, Randy Alexander.

Many business and community leaders say they attended Thursday night's event for answers to questions Americans face now and will face years down the road.

"We've got to create an opportunity for small businesses to grow and prosper once again," said Democratic Candidate, Curtis Coleman.

"Look at our backgrounds and look what we bring to the table," said Republican Candidate, Conrad Reynolds.

©2010 KAIT

 all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.