Declaring it’s “time to prosper,” businessman and non-profit leader Curtis Coleman officially threw his hat in the ring for Arkansas Governor in 2014.
Coleman, a Republican, addressed a crowded room at the Old Supreme Court chamber in the Arkansas state capitol on Thursday (Feb. 21).
“It is my indescribable honor to declare to you today that I’m a candidate for Governor for the great state of Arkansas,” Coleman said.
He laid out a 5-point plan for addressing what he saw as pressing concerns for the state. They included:
Tax reform – reducing the personal income tax and possibly eliminating business taxes and capital gains taxes. He also advocated for ending taxes on military pensions and doing more to attract retirees to Arkansas.
Education – “restoring” the rights of parents to choose schools and let the money follow them to the learning institutions of their choice, even private schools. Coleman also said he wanted to improve high school graduation rates, place more emphasis on skilled trade labor, and move two-year college “further up the food chain” as a priority. “We must have first class educational opportunities,” Coleman said. “Equal is not good enough.”
Economic development – placing a greater emphasis on local economic developers. Coleman said he wanted to end state control of economic development by decentralizing jobs recruiting to the city and county levels. By doing this, he said the state could create 150-200 economic development engines.
State government downsizing – limiting the size and scope of state government by reducing duplicative services and making it more efficient.
Federal government interaction – regaining what Coleman called the “intended balance of power between state and federal government.” He said he would get government “out of our faces, off our backs, and out of our pocketbooks.”
“Washington is not going to give back what it’s taken from the states. The star will have to take it back,” he added. In asserting his support for the Second Amendment and right to bear arms, Coleman said, “If necessary, I will stand on the borders of our state and say, ‘No!’”
Coleman also touted his business background as former CEO of Safe Foods Corp., a North Little Rock-based food safety company. He said he had met a payroll, dealt with government regulations, and provided health care to employees. He is currently the chairman of the Institute for Constitutional Policy, an educational non-profit corporation.
In a dig at his potential GOP primary rival Asa Hutchinson and Democrats Bill Halter and Mike Ross, Coleman said, “We don’t need another professional politician at the helm.”
Coleman ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010, finishing fifth in an eight-person primary. Two other challengers in that race, Rep. Randy Alexander and Fred Ramey, were on hand at his announcement.
Coleman also fielded questions about the current legislative session. He said he opposed the expansion of Medicaid and did not support the $125 million bond issue for a Mississippi County steel mill super project.