The runoff election for Arkansas District 1 will be held on June 8. I'll be the first to admit that even after nearly five years as an Arkansas resident, I'm not as aware as I'd like to be about Arkansas politicians. That point was driven home this evening while researching U.S. Congressional candidates Chad Causey and Tim Wooldridge. Both gentlemen were actively campaigning at the annual North Arkansas Electric Cooperative meeting in Salem, Arkansas only hours earlier.
I asked both candidates several questions, some of which were answered fairly predictably. The first question presented was what they perceived as being their top priority. Both Causey and Wooldridge stated employment issues as their primary concern, and both expressed intent to spur economic opportunities on state and national levels as a means to relieve current employment woes.
Next, we spoke about education. Mr. Causey was quick to focus on the importance of high school and college education, referring back to employment issues. Yes, higher learning is vital, but what of elementary education? Both candidates were asked why a percentage of taxes paid by families who homeschool their children benefit public education, while there are no tax breaks for families who educate their children at home.
Mr. Causey, who received his education through public schools, offered no definitive explanation on taxed homeschoolers. However, he spoke of his mother who's been a career educator as a teacher, and is currently a school counselor. During this discussion he stated his firm belief that "No Child Left Behind" needs an overhaul. He also said that today's teachers need to be able to return to the actual act of educating rather than teaching only with meeting standardized test quotas as the primary objective.
When presented with the query of why homeschooling families' tax dollars help fund public education, Mr. Wooldridge was pragmatic. He equated homeschooling with private education- both considered by him to be matters of choice, and therefore equally subject to funding tax-paid public education with no immediate benefit to families whose children do not attend public schools. Wooldridge, coincidentally, told me he'd received private education.
Mr. Wooldridge seemed more willing to discuss additional topics even though he was admittedly "strictly in campaign mode." In light of his health care stance, when asked if he had any reaction to this week's release of the Ontario Health Quality Council report which revealed financial and medical shortcomings, he said that his staffers hadn't yet brought this to his attention. He stated that he wasn't "in policy mode" when asked his opinion on the Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010, and appeared somewhat unaware that this bill had been introduced. Still, Tim Wooldridge swore that he aims to fight The System on behalf of American citizens.
Who endorses whom does not impress me, especially given the records of those doing the endorsing. Unctuous glad-handing to curry favor among the common folk, while appearing unable to process data on the fly and respond in an unscripted manner, does nothing to inspire voter confidence. Mud slinging, while sadly now commonplace, makes the slingers and their targets look like abject morons. Passing the buck under the guise of delegation is unconscionable. Being out of touch, particularly with one's local constituents, is inexcusable. Assuming that all potential voters are little more than stupid cattle is unforgivable.
In case anyone missed it, I deliberately linked to nothing specifically mentioned or alluded to in this article. I won't even go into one bit of information I learned which was completely disheartening. The reasons are my own, and while I told both candidates I would give them the link to this piece, I'm having second thoughts on that as well. Vote Kudzu. ;oD