Leader Blues

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

TOP STORY > >Three battle for Dist. 15 House seat

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader senior staff writer

With the election rapidly approaching, Trent Eilts, Doug Hatcher and Walls McCrary asked Lonoke Chamber members for their support last week as the three men position themselves to replace District 15 state Rep. Lenville Evans, D-Lonoke.

Evans has served three terms, making him ineligible to run again because of term limits.

Hatcher, who lost to Evans in 2002, will run on a platform of tougher sentences and more prison beds. Four gang members murdered his 17-year-old, son Jason Hatcher, in 1993 at a Sherwood Harvest Foods parking lot. Hatcher is a Union Pacific engineer.

McCrary is city treasurer, a community leader and retired businessman in Lonoke. He says he will focus on education and economic development. He also owns and manages farmland.

Eilts, who lives south of Cabot, said the government needed to make the kind of commitment to technology that it made in the 1950s in building the interstate system.

He said in trying to fix the economy, health care and the school system, it was really the symptoms, not the problems, being fixed.

“Good technology is like air conditioning,” he said. “We haven’t always had it but we don’t want to live without it.”

Eilts said universal high speed Internet would benefit E-prescriptions, ambulance response times and schools. Eilts also would en-courage development of bio-fuels and natural gas vehicles, he said.

“Less government is the best government,” he said.

Hatcher, who lives in Butlerville, came to politics as an extension of his advocacy for keeping violent criminals in prison for their full terms, but he told the chamber members that he was not a single-issue candidate.

Hatcher said the country was in a recession and that state government must not grow faster than the economy.

In education, he favors merit pay for teachers and discipline in the classroom, and calls himself pro-life and pro-family, favoring the Biblical view of marriage, including opposing homosexuality.

He also supports private gun ownership.

“If we have the best leadership, why are thousands of violent, dangerous felons free?” he asked. “I want accountability. We have to stop the revolving door for violent criminals.”

“What happened to me started my journey into politics.”

He said he believed that members of the parole board accept payoffs to let violent felons free.

McCrary, who has managed his family’s farm and also its historic store in Lonoke, said he was campaigning on the issue of proven leadership. “I’m a life-long resident and Democrat,” he said.

“I want to serve the people of Lonoke County. I don’t have any other dog in the hunt and no personal ax to grind.”

“Both my opponents are good men, good Christians,” he said.

McCrary, the Lonoke city treasurer, stressed his experience as president or board member of the Lonoke Chamber of Commerce, County Library Board, and chairman of the Bayou Meto Drainage District Board. He served on the Lonoke School Board for 16 years.

The election is Nov. 4 and early voting begins Oct. 20.