Leader Blues

Friday, October 17, 2008

TOP STORY > >Three hopefuls are battling for District 42 seat

Leader staff writer

Three candidates, Jane English, Val Yagos and Gene Mason, are vying for the House of Representatives District 42 seat being vacated by Sandra Prater, D-Jacksonville, who is term-limited.

English, 67, a Republican and resident of north Pulaski County, says that she wants to bring more accountability to government. She favors posting the state budget online along with a statement about each agency or program’s goals and the people it intends to serve, “so that people like you and me can see what the state is doing with our money.”

English wants to apply her past professional experience to her other priority, economic and workforce development.

She had a career with the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission recruiting new businesses to the state. She served as director of the Arkansas Manufacturers Association and as director of the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board as a Huckabee cabinet appointee.

She is an employer outreach coordinator and volunteer for the U.S. Department of Defense as a liaison between deployed military and their hometown employers.

English favors workforce development not only for those out of work but those currently employed. Small businesses “lack the opportunity to upgrade worker skills.” For the worker who is unexpectedly out of a job and out on the street looking for a job, new skills to offer a prospective employer are essential.

English holds a degree in economics and finance from Arkansas Tech University in Russellville.

Val Yagos, 44, a Democrat and resident of north Pulaski County, became interested in politics and public policy during the 2007 legislative session when she worked on a bill to make in-state salvage businesses more competitive with those out of state. The intent of the bill, which became law, was to ensure that out-of-state companies were saddled with the same regulations as those in state.

From that experience Yagos says that she decided to “offer myself for public service. I wanted to be part of the process that makes all of our laws.”

Her primary areas of interest are education, health care, and economic and workforce development. She wants to see more vocational courses offered in high schools, incentives to attract more people into the nursing field, and stronger technical colleges.

Yagos and her husband, Bob, own JB Auto Salvage in Jacksonville.

She says she understands what small business owners and employers face.

Yagos holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Central Arkansas.

Yagos says she does not have a “big agenda” in mind if she is elected.

“I just want to be part of the process. I am just a business person, a mother, a grandmother. I feel we need more of those folks down there at the Capitol.”

Green Party member Gene Mason of north Pulaski County is also running for the open seat.

Mason, 45, works for Flake Wilkerson Market Insights and is a frequent writer of letters to the editor.

He describes himself as a conservative.

Mason ran for the state Senate in 2006 against Sen. John Paul Capps, D-Searcy, in the Democratic primary and lost.

In 2004, Mason was a write-in candidate against Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and lost again.