Governor candidate Mike Beebe makes local stops
Arkansas Attorney General and Democratic candidate for Governor Mike Beebe made stops in the area visiting with residents at the Caraway St. Bernard's Senior Citizen Center, Monette City Hall, Black Oak Gin and Chatter Box Restaurant in Lake City on Wednesday.
Kicking off the day with a community breakfast in Blytheville, Beebe arrived in Caraway at the Senior Citizens Center where a potluck luncheon was prepared.
Caraway site director Cleffie Gipson said she appreciated Mike Beebe taking time to visit with the seniors and others attending the luncheon.
"We feel it is an honor for him to come to Caraway and visit our center," Gipson said. "I appreciate the support of the community and my folks at the center for all of their help. I appreciate the city for all they do and Craighead County Judge Dale Haas."
Judge Haas welcomed Beebe to the county and introduced him at the Caraway senior center.
"Attorney General Beebe has come to Caraway to visit with you and personally ask you for your vote. Mike is a great guy," Haas said. "I also want to take this opportunity to thank all of you because you are the ones that gave me my job."
Beebe thanked the group for coming and preparing the luncheon.
"I want to ask for your vote and support," Beebe said. "I understand the issues and problems concerning this area."
Beebe graduated from Newport High School and Arkansas State University. He attended ASU on a Rural Endowment.
"I've had my fair share of luck and fortune and I want to make sure our people can share in the quality of life we all want," Beebe said. "Part of our job as Attorney General is to protect seniors from fraud."
"I can't win without your support," he said. "I can't govern without your input. Let's win this together."
He visited with individuals at the center answering questions and listening to their concerns.
When asked his views on the future of schools he said he is not for more consolidation at this time.
"I think we have had enough consolidation for now. Changes have been made and we need to see how the changes are going to work," he said. "We want everyone to meet standards and all students deserve a quality education."
Monette Mayor David Fletcher and a group of Monette citizens welcomed Beebe and other guests to the new city hall.
Fletcher introduced Beebe and other guests including Senator Paul Bookout.
Fletcher presented Beebe with a key to the city.
"He (Beebe) did a stint in the Army," Fletcher said. "I retired as an Air Force Chief and I also want to make him an honorary Chief."
Beebe expressed his appreciation for the warm welcome, the key to the city and the signs along the way.
"I'm called General sometimes when I'm introduced as the Attorney General," Beebe said. "When I am addressing a military group I always say I was not a real general but I was a real Spec. 5 in the Army."
"You have a great judge and a great mayor," Beebe said. "There is a great camaraderie between the mayors and judge in this county you don't see in many other counties. It is a good thing and something you need to hang on to."
Beebe introduced Senator Paul Bookout.
"We are fortunate to have him filling his father's footsteps," Beebe said. "I spent 20 years in the Senate, a place I loved. I'm not a foreigner to this state. I won't pretend to be able to fix everything. It is important to work together. The calls we get to the Attorney General's office are steered to folks who handle the particular issues. Sometimes people will want to talk to me and more often than not I have to call back. To my knowledge, I have not failed to return a call. As a senator, attorney general, or governor we work for the people. When we forget who we work for, we do not need to be there."
Beebe stopped by Black Oak Gin and visited citizens gathered there before going to the Chatter Box Restaurant in Lake City.
Chatter Box owner Fred Payne said he was glad for the candidates to meet at the restaurant.
"We have been called the Democratic headquarters here," Payne said.
Payne and his staff served refreshments to the guests while Beebe talked to different media groups and individuals.
Beebe discussed the expansion of the bio-fuels industry in Arkansas as a cornerstone of his plan as governor to provide jobs of the 21st century, saying a fundamental principle was to maintain balance between supply and demand for the agri-based fuels.
"We have to create the jobs of the 21st century to make sure we aren't educating our kids in Blytheville, Lake City or Jonesboro just to go find work in Nashville, Houston or Atlanta. Bio-fuels can be produced right here in Arkansas, creating the jobs of the future," Beebe said. "To do that, we have to keep a balance so our state can reap the full benefits of this growing industry. On the consumption side, the question is about encouraging local in-state demand for the product to encourage the market to grow without creating such demand that out-of-state producers would need to be relied on to meet the demand."
Beebe said in addition to jobs created, his plan would lead to cheaper gas prices for Arkansas drivers and less reliance nationally on foreign oil countries. According to the Arkansas Department of Economic Development there are currently 1.8 million registered vehicles in Arkansas consuming 2.1 billion gallons of fuel annually.
"The potential is limitless," Beebe said. "I think we'd all feel better about paying cheaper prices at the pump and putting that money in the hands of Arkansas farmers instead of foreign nations."
Beebe said Arkansas can become a leader in developing the fuels. He said biodiesel is working well and ethanol is not far behind.
Beebe also discussed highway improvements including several in Northeast Arkansas.
"I have a commitment to build Arkansas 226 to four-lane standards with work on an overpass later," Beebe said. "The work on Arkansas 18, I-555 and U.S. 67 shows the economic development role we have in Northeast Arkansas."
Beebe commented that Arkansas had a reduction in meth lab busts by 56 percent from March to December since the limits of pseudo ephedrine were passed.
"There has been an increase in meth coming into the state. Our biggest drug problem is the borders are insecure," Beebe said. "It is coming in across the border of Mexico in the form of ice."
Beebe also expressed his opposition to gay marriage and said he feels gay foster parents are not in the best interest of the kids.
He also said 95 percent of every $1 goes to education, health/human services and prisons. Education receives 70 cents of every dollar.
Beebe commented he would like to see the state's tax on food reduced and eventually eliminated. He would also like to see more assistance in the form of scholarships or relief money for higher education.
In talking about the surplus, he said he would like to see some money put back.
"I've lived through good and hard times," Beebe said.
In addition to the Blytheville, Black Oak, Caraway, Monette and Lake City stops, Beebe also visited Brookland, Bay, Egypt and Bono on Wednesday.
He said the schedule was worth the wear and tear.
"Regardless of where you live, everyone deserves to meet the candidates," he said. "The governor is the governor of the small towns just like the cities and those folks deserve to be represented. I've enjoyed visiting with all of them."