Candidates for Arkansas House Districts 58 & 59 gather for debate

House District 58 & 59 candidates discussed issues on Friday

Candidates for Arkansas House Districts 58 & 59 gather for debate
Candidates for Arkansas House 58 & 59 gather for debate (Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - With the election in less than three weeks, House District 58 & 59 are up for grabs.

The debate, sponsored by NEA Political Animals, took place at the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

Candidate Jim Burton (D-Jonesboro) and the incumbent Representative Brandt Smith (R-Jonesboro)--- the two candidates up for district 58— had similar views when discussing their views on certain topics like healthcare and tackling the coronavirus pandemic, despite the two being from different political parties.

AR House 58 Debate

When it came down to their priorities, the candidates did have opposition on what they believe is important for the state of Arkansas.

Representative Brandt Smith says he wants to keep the traditional value in the state.

“I am pro-life, I am pro-Second Amendment, I’m pro-freedom of speech,” said Rep. Smith. “I really want another term in Little Rock to continue supporting good legislation that benefits Arkansans, that maintains our traditional values.”

Burton says that he wants to expand Medicaid for Arkansans.

“If you do away with Medicaid expansion, you immediately throw on the Order 238- 40,000 people across the state out of any health insurance,” said Burton. “And they will be deluging emergency rooms in this state, and the hospitals will be forced to eat those costs, as charitable deductions.”

The candidates for House District 59, incumbent Representative Jack Ladyman (R-Jonesboro) and Reginald “Ray” Prunty (D-Jonesboro) also shared similar ideas.

House District 59 Debate

Both candidates agree on opposing the idea to consolidate the school districts in Jonesboro—saying that it could create issues with students being left behind as well as losing school traditions and changing mascots.

However, they differ on whether state constitutional offices should be abolished if they are considered to be inactive.

Prunty believes the roles should not be abolished.

“I like to alter and adjust things. I really don’t like doing away because generally we have things in place that works for the state or for the system,” said Prunty, “When you abolish it, now we got to pass a new law to do something in that they were maintaining. So let’s take and alter and adjust what we have to make it fit the current times.”

Ladyman says that inactive roles should be abolished to save money.

“There was a hundred-page bill that eliminated a bunch of commissions and agencies that were basically inactive,” Ladyman said. “Some were joined. A very big bill over 100 pages. It saved a lot of money for the state. So, it’s a valid question. The lieutenant governor’s office could be eliminated. I think we still need to debate that but the responsibilities that office has very little and he runs the Senate. That’s basically it.”

The election for House District 58 & 59 will be on Nov. 3.

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