Gloves Come Off In District 59 Kiwanis Debate

by Michael Wilkey ([email protected]) 436 views 

The two candidates for a Craighead County state House seat traded barbs Wednesday as both accused one another of desperate behavior at a local civic club’s debate.

In the fourth in a series of state legislative debates, Democrat Ron Carroll and Republican Jack Ladyman, who are running in House District 59, spent most of the debate talking about issues like the private option and the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

Toward the end of the debate, the gloves came off.

Carroll said he has tried to run an “honest, truthful campaign” but felt compelled to bring up Ladyman’s record as mayor in Elkins, issues with not paying county property taxes, and allegations of domestic abuse between Ladyman and his wife, Linda.

“I see he has gone negative,” Ladyman responded.

Carroll contended Ladyman and the GOP went negative first. Carroll said he brought up the issues regarding Ladyman after hearing reports about a recent robocall accusing him of lying, and a mailer – sent out by the state Republican party – accusing him of not standing for anything. Ladyman said the mailer only pointed out differences between the two candidates.

While Carroll did not bring up specifics at the forum about the domestic abuse allegations, Carroll’s campaign did speak to reporters afterwards about the issue.

He reiterated that the robocall, the mailer and a comment made by Ladyman in the debate helped to make his decision to bring it up.

“During the debate, he questioned my out-of-state contributions and I felt the need to defend myself. I felt like my character was being challenged,” Carroll said.

According to records on file with the Craighead County Circuit Clerk’s office, Linda Ladyman filed an order of protection petition in Feb. 1999 against her husband.

In the order, Linda Ladyman alleged Jack Ladyman verbally abused her as well as locked her out of their home several times.

No criminal charges were ever filed against Jack Ladyman or his wife in connection with the case.

Ladyman said he and his wife have been married for 44 years and that they had some problems in their marriage at the time.

“My wife wanted to separate and asked that I move out,” Ladyman said of the situation. “There was no evidence of domestic violence.”

Ladyman said he and his wife, who have not had any other reported issues since then, went through some difficult times related to a special needs child and two children involved in a kidney transplant.

“Anyone who has a family member with special needs knows it puts stress on a family,” he said.

Carroll also said Ladyman did not properly pay his property taxes for six years – a topic of concern that was raised earlier this summer in an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article. Ladyman responded that he found out in August 2014 that he did owe for taxes in Pulaski County and paid them.

According to the newspaper account, Ladyman took homestead credits for homes in Pulaski and Washington counties for three years and for homes in Pulaski and Craighead counties for three years. Pulaski County officials demanded Ladyman pay $2,100 – $1,050 for the three years and a $1,050 penalty, the paper reported.

“Here is what happened. I lived in Jonesboro and had to move to Little Rock with GE. So I decided to take advantage of the homestead exemption there,” Ladyman said.

He sold his Jonesboro home and moved to Little Rock for his job. From there, he moved to Fayetteville and said he tried to sell the Little Rock home but could not. He said he knew nothing about the taxes owed on the Little Rock home, which he has rented out for nearly 10 years, until he was contacted during a business trip in Denver.

“I got the bill and paid it the same day online,” Ladyman said.

Carroll said he felt it would be inappropriate to question Ladyman’s explanation on the tax issue, other than to say, “if the taxes have been paid, it is good.”

As for his record as mayor of Elkins, Ladyman said the city’s financial picture improved during his six years there.

“It went from $100,000 in the general fund to $1 million in six years. It was not bankrupt,” Ladyman said. “There was talk about my syphoning off funds from the fire department. The person making the argument about this would have had to approve the budget for the department, so it is sour grapes. They also allege that I took a salary after I left. That did not happen. When I was transferred back to Jonesboro, I went back and forth but continued to do my job until I resigned.”

As for whether or not Ladyman is qualified to serve due to the issues he’s raised, Carroll said he believes it is up to the voters to decide that.

“I felt disenchanted. For me, the truth is important. I hated to go there but the robocall accused me of lies,” Carroll said. “If the truth is what is negative, so be it. He, in his earlier mailing, said I was telling lies. I am not telling lies and it tarnished my reputation. If the truth is what is negative, then I told the truth.”

“He is desperate and understands he is losing,” Ladyman responded. “For him, it is the last straw. I committed that I would not go negative in this campaign. I wish people would go to Little Rock with me and help stop this negative campaigning. There is no place at all for this type of political mudslinging.”

House District 59 covers northwest and western Craighead County, including Jonesboro, Bono, Cash and Egypt. The winner will replace Democrat Butch Wilkins, who is term-limited and cannot seek another term in office.