JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A pack of "political animals" gathered in Jonesboro Friday to listen to candidates running for state representative in four different districts.
During the Northeast Arkansas Political Animals debate, the candidates answered questions from the public regarding a wide range of topics, such as abortion, prison overcrowding, jobs and the state's Medicaid private option expansion.
Democrat Radius Baker is facing off against Republican Dwight Tosh for the District 52 seat. The two candidates talked about the different ways they would create jobs.
"Our adult ed program that Valley View has had for several years," Baker said. "That also gives adults a way to find more jobs in this area as well."
"Eighty percent of the jobs in this country are created by small businesses," Tosh said. "We have to offer them the type of incentives that they need and by doing that we give them some relief through tax reform and regulation reform."
The District 53 candidates, incumbent Democrat Rep. Homer Lenderman and Republican Dan Sullivan, also touched on how they would create jobs.
"An educated workforce, a quick-action closing fund for the governor to help provide incentives to businesses to relocate in our area," Lenderman said. "A workforce that is willing, healthy and able to work is going to be key and crucial to use promoting and having jobs."
"Reforming our tax code," Sullivan said. "We have one of the highest tax rates in the nation and employers do not want to move here and have they're employees pay that. The second thing is education change with our workforce, focus and offering business opportunities and incentives for businesses to come here."
Incumbent Democrat Rep. Harold Copenhaver is facing off against Republican Brandt Smith for the District 58 seat. When asked about the private option, the two candidates had differing views.
"One of our hospitals told me today that their reduced deduction is 35 percent in ER pay," Copenhaver said. "That means money's coming in. That means it's working. It's a work in progress, and we know that, but a vote against the private option is a vote for Obama care."
"The insurance side of it is going to make a lot of insurance agents a lot of money and a lot of companies a lot of money, but it doesn't necessarily improve the health care that is provided," Smith said.
Democrat Ron Carroll and Republican Jack Ladyman are vying for the District 59 seat. When asked about health care for public school teachers, both agreed the state needs to take care of its educators.
"Just adding additional money isn't the answer but education also so that our teachers take care of their health and don't have to use their insurance as much," Carroll said.
"Health programs would be good, maybe money needs to be moved in to help pay for insurance," Ladyman said. "But we have to take care of our teachers."