Arkansas Senate Republicans hope to solidify their grasp on the chamber by picking off another reliably Democratic seat in the November general election.
Freshman Rep. Dave Wallace, R-Leachville, will attempt to unseat Sen. David Burnett, D-Osceola, in district 22. Burnett was first elected to the seat in 2010. The district includes Poinsett, Mississippi, and the eastern half of Craighead County.
Talk Business & Politics invited Wallace and Burnett to participate in a question and answer discussion to enlighten voters. Both agreed to submit written responses, but Burnett later refused to submit answers after repeated attempts to contact him. Burnett would not say why he wouldn’t respond after he agreed earlier this week to do so.
Burnett is a former judge who oversaw the controversial West Memphis Three case in which three men – Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley Jr., all from Marion – were convicted in the 1993 murders of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis in 1993. New evidence in the case compelled the state to release the men in 2011, after 18 years in state prison.
TB&P: Please give a detailed insight into your background, work experience, and education that make you the ideal candidate for this office.
Wallace: I spent 21 years in the U.S. Army. I’m a decorated Vietnam War veteran and I’ve been enshrined in the Arkansas Military Hall of Fame. After my Army career, I went to work in the corporate world.
TB&P: If elected, what will be the first piece of legislation you will propose? Be specific and give details.
Wallace: I’m going to continue to work with the governor on tax cuts. I think it’s really important to cut people’s taxes. I don’t have a proposed agenda of bills at this time.
TB&P: Will you support continued funding of the private option, the federally subsidized healthcare program that provides insurance to more than 200,000 working poor in the state? If not, will you propose a plan to replace it, and how will that be paid for?
Wallace: I will support the governor on whatever action he takes on this issue.
TB&P: Arkansas ranks near the bottom in median income in the country. What legislative actions need to be taken to raise income levels in the state?
Wallace: We’re doing a lot of good right here in Northeast Arkansas to bring better paying jobs to the state. Big River Steel is about to start operations is one example. We need to create a more business friendly environment in the state, and I think the governor has got us on the right track. I will continue to support his efforts. There’s no one bill, there’s no magic wand to create higher paying jobs. We need to work together to come up with ways to do that.
TB&P: Do you support one, both, or none of the marijuana proposals on the ballot? Please give a detailed reason as to why or why not.
Wallace: I do not support either proposal and will not vote for either one of them. I disagree with both. It’s a gateway drug.