Arkansas House District 81: Harris and Norris

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 95 views 

The primary battle for the GOP nomination to the Arkansas House of Representatives District 81 pits Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork, against challenger Lisa France Norris in a contest, where jobs, economic development, and a $400 million Medicaid shortfall, take center stage.

The City Wire recently spoke with Harris and Norris about what makes each the best candidate for the position.

Harris credits his time in the 88th General Assembly as a prime reason voters should elect him to the 89th, while Norris feels she has the "best interests of District 81 at heart." Both candidates agree that job creation is the district's number one issue, and that Medicaid will be top priority for the Assembly as a whole in 2013.

The candidates expanded on their qualifications and beliefs in a political questionnaire provided by The City Wire. Full responses are listed below.  

Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork
• Why are you the better candidate for the position?
I believe any person running for political office should have courage, conviction, integrity, and the ability to listen to constituents. I have shown in the 88th General Assembly that I have all of these qualities. I have never run from debate and controversy, and I believe it is healthy for a thriving democracy. For too long politicians say one thing on the campaign trail and do another in Little Rock. The number one comment I get from people at the grocery store, church, and members of our communities, “Finally, someone who said they would do something and actually did it!”

• What is the number one issue within your district?
The number one issue in District 81 is jobs. Just recently I received word that Whirlpool will be closing its doors for good in Fort Smith. This is another blow to our District.  People in Alma, Rudy, Mountainburg, and Chester are greatly affected by this shutdown and the other businesses that have closed their doors and went elsewhere. Currently Arkansas ranks 39th in being business friendly, yet we have the fastest growing government in the nation. That is terrible. We also have the highest State Income Tax Rate in the Nation!

• What is the top issue the 2013-2014 Arkansas General Assembly will face?
The greatest issue we will face in the 89th General Assembly is the $400 million dollar shortfall in Medicaid. At the beginning of this year we were told the amount was $120 million, by the end of February, it was $400 million. This was told after I fought against the Governor’s Budget, which did not address the issue. We cannot have a balance budget if we have a looming debt facing us. There are several ways we can fix the problem. First, look at the efficiencies of the programs. Cut at the top, those making $100,000 plus, streamline services without cutting constituent services.

Lisa France Norris
• Why are you the better candidate for the position?
I feel that I have the best interests of District 81 at heart and will work on the biggest issues facing the district right now — jobs and economic development. I will be a diligent and relevant legislator who will work with any legislator, state agency, or government official to help my district and keep the concerns of the people in my district as the first priority.

• What is the number one issue within your district?
I referred to it above, but jobs are key. There are also many economic development opportunities such as I-49 and developing the Arkansas River for both commercial and recreational use that can be seized upon quickly to stimulate the local economy.

• What is the top issue the 2013-2014 Arkansas General Assembly will face?
The medicaid shortfall and how to prevent it in the future without affecting the ability of healthcare providers to render medical services to those in the most need.