Rep. James Ratliff barely survived the Republican wave that swept through Arkansas during the 2014 mid-terms. Ratliff, D-Imboden, won his third term in office by defeating challenger Blaine Davis, R-Walnut Ridge, by a mere 50 votes.
The challenge will be as tough this year. Longtime businesswoman Fran Cavenaugh, R-Walnut Ridge, is hoping to claim yet another house seat for the Republican Party this election cycle.
TB&P: Please give a detailed insight into your background, work experience, and education that make you the ideal candidate for this office.
Cavenaugh: As a small business owner with 20-plus years of experience, I understand what it takes to be an entrepreneur. I understand what it takes to balance a budget, grow a business and make payroll. These are all skills we need in government. My years of community and non-profit work brought me a deeper understanding of the issues facing our communities in district 60. This combined with my business background gives me strong skill sets needed today in our district.
Ratliff: I graduated from Lynn High School with 3.93 GPA and worked probably for every farmer that baled hay that 50-mile area during high school. I also worked and help run the feed store in Imboden in the summer and winter time. I had a farm at Williford on Martin Creek road that I worked for feed for my cows. I started a cattle farm in 1972 in the sixth-grade with my grandfather. After high school, I went to ASU and majored in agriculture education to become a teacher like my dad. He taught school for 34 years. I worked anywhere possible while in college and kept my farm going. I finished my degree and was graduate assistant for one year. I received my master’s degree in 1983. I started teaching that year at Knobel High School and taught nine years at Corning and 18 years at Hoxie as the agriculture teacher. I never seen a job that was too hard.
TB&P: If elected, what will be the first piece of legislation you will propose? Be specific and give details.
Cavenaugh: One of the first issues we must address is the need to help our children. Through my work with The Children’s Shelter, I’ve seen first-hand the conditions some of our children are living in, and this number is growing. We must find a way to break the cycle of poverty and abuse these children live in. To do this we must have qualified foster families. I emphasize qualified. We need families who can foster these children and show them a different lifestyle than they current have. We don’t need people who are just looking to get a check. It happens far too often. These kids have been failed by their parents and families and then we place them with another family that fails them too. We must stop this. Our future is at stake. If we can’t help them break this cycle, then their future and our is bleak.
Ratliff: The first thing I’m going to run will be a bill to fix the isolated funding bill for Hillcrest School so they will not lose funding of over $1 million a year.
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?
Cavenaugh: I do not support Obama Care. I do not believe that the federal government should be involved in our healthcare. Arkansas has to find a way to survive Obama Care until it is either declared unconstitutional, it’s repealed, or modified. We need to look at all our options so the state does not go bankrupt or lose much needed federal funds. I support the governor’s efforts at reform and look forward to working with him to find the best way to make healthcare affordable to all Arkansans.
Ratliff: Yes, I will support it. Funding will come from the Feds for 90% of it. The other will saved through amount the hospitals would have lost that we have gained.
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?
Cavenaugh: To bring more income to our citizens of Arkansas we must provide them with more than one path to success. This must be done in K-12. We have for so long told our children there is only one path to success and that is a traditional college degree. That is not true, there are multiple paths to success, and we must provide all those paths. Vocational training is a great way for a person to have a very good income. We all know we need HVAC, plumbers, and electricians but we are not telling that to our children in school. If our children are to have better paying jobs they must know what jobs will be available when they graduate and what training is needed to get those jobs. While still in school we must provide them with guidance that shows all the paths available to them. They should be able to get some of the training while still in high school. We must provide our children with all the information and options available so they can be successful and earn a livable wage here in district 60.
Ratliff: We need to better educate our Pre-school kids. It’s been proven that a better education from that age on leads to more opportunities for that student. I also think we need to stop illegal drug trafficking in Arkansas. That will help many families get out of poverty.
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.
Cavenaugh: I think we need more research into the benefits of medical marijuana before we can make a decision on whether to legalize it or not.
Ratliff: No. The states that have passed medical marijuana have more crime now than they did before.