Interest has shifted towards the 2014 Arkansas Lt. Gubernatorial race following recent ethics questions raised by current Lt. Gov. Mark Darr.
Darr dropped out of the District 4 Race after an investigation was opened up questioning whether he may have violated state laws by taking campaign funds for personal income.
Before dropping out, Darr filed a complaint with the AR Ethics Commission against himself. While Darr is not expected to run again for Lt. Governor, the candidates in the race are expected to face some tough ethics questions as the political season progresses.
Arkansas Republican Representatives Charlie Collins-(Fayetteville) and Andy Mayberry-(Hensley) have both announced plans to seek the GOP nomination for Darr’s Seat. Meanwhile, Highway Commissioner John Burkhalter is currently the only democrat announced in the race.
Burkhalter sat down with 5NEWS Managing Editor Larry Henry on 5NEWS Sunday Morning to discuss the upcoming race.
The Lt. Governor candidate focused mainly on Arkansas economy and employment during the interview saying, “I’m a job creator, I’m not a politician, I’m a businessman, and I do know how to create jobs.”
One major economic issue discussed was an income tax reduction bill pushed through by potential opponent, Rep. Charlie Collins in the 89th General Assembly to reduce the state’s income tax.
When asked about his opinion on the issue, Burkhalter said he supported an income tax reduction, but only if it comes with other cuts, saying, “We need to know where we’re going to target and what we’re going to cut back in a state budget.”
Burkhalter said he aims to make government more efficient similar to how businesses are made more efficient.
The 89th General Assembly was proof that many Arkansas politicians will likely also face many social issues in 2014. This was shown when early into the session as the republican-controlled assembly passed bills on the issues of abortion and gun rights.
Burkhalter was asked about the issue of guns in school in his interview with 5NEWS following the recent opinion made by Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and the decision by Clarksville School District to arm a portion of its faculty and staff. The issue is also expected to be brought up in debates prior to the election if Rep. Collins wins the republican nomination due to the passing of Act 226, a bill sponsored by Collins, which allows trained full-time faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons on college and university campuses if approved by the school’s board.
Burkhalter on the issue said, “I believe a security guard carrying a gun -- at a factory or warehouse in the middle of the night is a lot different than a teacher carrying a gun at school.”
The democratic Lt. Governor candidate said teachers need to be adequately trained before carrying weapons to protect their students. Burkhalter said he would rather see officers instead of teachers carrying guns at schools, because they have been trained for years, but emphasized the most important thing is to protect students.
The Arkansas Lieutenant Gubernatorial Election will take place on November 4, 2014.