Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

TOP STORY >> Democrats out to win

By JOHN HOFHEIMER AND JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writers

While the Lonoke Republicans are locked in an intra-party struggle for quorum court seats, the Democrats have just two contested seats in the primary races, each with three candidates.

DISTRICT 8

Fred Ibbotson, from the Lonoke area, one of three Democratic candidates for the seat now held by Woody Evans, said growth in the southern part of the county where he lives is in-evitable within the next 20 years and he believes it deserves strong representation like the northern part has with the Republican members of the quorum court.

Ibbotson, a partner in a towing business, said his experience with finances would be an asset to the quorum court. “If there is anything I can do to help, I want to,” he said.

Nita Colclasure says she learned as the state chairman for Toys for Tots and while helping to start a GED program for state prisoners that one person can make a difference.

“We’ve let the same families, the same names run our county for too long,” she said.
The Lonoke area has a lot to offer with its historic buildings and I-40 but it’s not being promoted as it should be. It will never be Cabot, she said, but it should at least have a good steakhouse.

While economic development and historical preservation fall outside the scope of the work usually performed by the quorum court, Colclasure says there is no rule that says it must stay that way.

“We really do have a lot to offer if they would just give us a chance,” she said.

Roger D. Lynch says he would like to work with the county budget and he believes his experience with budgets from his management job at Remington Arms will be an asset to the District 8 seat.

“There’s never enough money to go around,” Lynch said. “I feel like people on the quorum court have to make value judgments about what’s important. I’m as able as anyone to make a good, sound judgment. But you’ve also got to be able to work in a group and you need to be able to sell your ideas.”

DISTRICT 10

Two Democrats are challenging Norman Walker for the seat he has held since 1997. Kyle Lackey, 28, a first-time candidate, is a pharmacist technician in his father’s Lonoke drug store.

He has a degree in business management from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
His father, Ray Lackey, was on the quorum court for eight years.

“I think the county judge (Charlie Troutman) is doing an excellent job,” said Lackey. Jail improvement, road maintenance and courthouse overcrowding are among the top issues, he said.

“I’ll support (Troutman) 100 percent,” he said. He also cited health insurance as “a big deal for everyone.” He said the cost was going up and the quality going down for the county health plan.

Lackey’s wife Amber is an emergency room nurse at the Stuttgart Regional Medical Center. They have a 3-year-old daughter. Lackey said that working in the family business, he sees at least 50 area residents a day, giving him access to their needs and thoughts.

But, he said, “I’ll support whoever wins.”
Virgil Turner, 74, wants to be the voice for aging Lonoke County residents. He’s the assistant minister of the Prairie Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Hazen.

Turner, a Nashville (Howard County) native, retired from a community action agency in Chicago, where he was executive director. Then he moved to Lonoke, where his wife Lily grew up, he said. He served as the executive director of the Arkansas AIDS Foundation.

Turner has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Arkansas A&M College, now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

As a youngster, his family sharecropped, and he grew up picking and chopping cotton, he said.
Turner is a Central Arkansas Development Council consultant. He helped coordinate meals in Lonoke for Katrina victims and was a member of the search committee that just helped hire the new Lonoke police chief.

The Turners have three daughters; two are lawyers and one a middle school principal.

Walker, 49, is running for a sixth term. He works for Agricultural Services Inc. as a truck driver. It’s a hazardous-spill response company.

“I like working with the quorum court members. We’re finally coming together,” he explains

He says that because of his experience on the court, “we’re at the point now where I can really get some things done. I’m honest with the people. If I can’t do something, I’ll tell them. I work closely with the county judge.”

He sponsored resolutions to get city water to the Kerr Community and also to get grants for the Martin Loop Fun Park. “That’s part of my district,” he said.

Walker has helped get streets paved in his district.

The court as a whole is “making some progress on the jail,” he said.

As chairman of the county personnel policy revision committee, Walker says he wants to change Lonoke from a county that can fire an employee at will to a “for-cause county. I’ll be pushing to do that.”
He wants to make the federal credit union available in Lonoke.


Walker is on the board of the Central Arkansas Development Council. He is past president of the Lonoke County branch of NAACP, and chaired Lonoke City Concerned citizens.

He holds an associate degree in business management.

Walker has lived in Lonoke for 27 years. He’s married to the former Mattie Williams of Lonoke. They have four grown children.