BENTON COUNTY [KFSM] - Democratic candidate Grimsley Graham and Republican candidate Rebecca Petty are going head-to-head for the open seat for state representative of District 94, which covers most of Benton County, including Rogers.
Petty is a crime victim advocate, and said she supports harsher punishment for violent criminals. Petty's twelve-year-old daughter was abducted and killed fifteen years ago.
"I don't think that someone who has committed a violent crime should be out anytime soon, especially if they are violent predators, and I know that there is a level 4 sexual offender right here in this town," Petty said.
Graham said on the issue of violent crime he defers to his opponent, but added that there are other issues in the race.
"There's a lot of other issues that we have to be involved in, so far as crime goes and especially the crime she is interested in solving, the childhood abuse and so on, she is the expert," Graham said.
The marine veteran was an English teacher at Rogers High School for 30 years. He said there needs to be increased funding for pre-kindergarten programs, as well as workforce education.
"Workforce education I think is crucial these days, there are 40,000 jobs in Arkansas that are going unfilled because our workforce doesn't have the skills to perform the job," Graham said.
Petty said she thinks there needs to be more research on exactly which jobs are going unfilled because workers aren't qualified for the position.
"We need to figure out what we need, say we need welders, we need somebody in computer sciences, we need to figure out what we need in the communities," Petty said.
Petty added that there are fully-funded pre-kindergarten programs in the state, and there isn't a need to pour more money into a program that is fully functioning.
The two candidates are also split on the issue of private option healthcare for the state of Arkansas. Graham said the plan has already reduced uncompensated care, adding he is in support of private option.
"These folks who haven't been able to afford insurance can now get primary care so they aren't going to get desperately sick and wind up in the ER as often, so I think it's been real good," Graham said.
Petty said the Medicaid expansion plan already accounts for 22% of the state budget, and said she is working to protect tax payers.
"Under the Obamacare medicaid expansion plan, it would grow to 31%, and I believe that that would leave Arkansans with a higher tax bill which would mean less funding for economic development, education and infrastructure," Petty said.
Early voting for the general election began Monday (Oct 20).