Leader Blues

Friday, April 03, 2009

TOP STORY > >Hopefuls: Jacksonville’s mayoral candidates share their views with The Leader

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Jacksonville residents have a variety of candidates to pick the city’s next mayor from – they’re young and old, insiders and outsiders, experienced and inexperienced, male and female.

In all, six candidates are trying to replace Mayor Tommy Swaim, who is in his 22nd year as mayor and is retiring July 1, after he decided to resign from the post and end his four-year term set to expire Dec. 31, 2010.

The candidates in the special election, to be held Tuesday, May 12, are:

Beckie Brooks, 68, married a Jacksonville native and has made the city her home since 1964. The couple has two sons and six grandchildren. Brooks operates her own real estate company.

Tommy Dupree, 71, is a lifelong resident of Jacksonville. He has been in business in Jacksonville since 1963, primarily developing and building residential and commercial property. He has three children and eight grandchildren.

Kenny Elliott, 56, is a native of Jacksonville and has been an alderman since 1996 and is the coordinator of energy management for the Pulaski County Special School District. He is married and has one daughter, twin sons and two granddaughters.

Gary Fletcher, 54, has been an Alderman in Jacksonville since 1978 and is president of Fletcher Homes, a residential homebuilding company. He is married and has two children and five grandchildren.

Randy “Doc” Rhodd, 46, is the president of the Family Motorcycle Ministry. He is married and has four children.

Jody Urquhart, 36, is married and has one child. He is a lifelong resident of Jacksonville and is district manager for Arkansas Farm Bureau.

The Leader asked each of the candidates to answer questions about themselves and their vision for Jacksonville. The questions and their answers appear below.

Leader: Why do you want to be mayor?

Brooks: I want to be mayor because I want to see this city more alive and growing.

The people in this community are our greatest asset. We need them engaged and involved in shaping the future of Jacksonville.

We are facing a number of major issues: the school situation, the hospital/medical community crisis, the strangulation of the southeast section of the city (the Graham Road crossing needs to be open), untold empty buildings and parking lots across the city, meeting the housing and transportation needs of our aging community while maintaining facilities for our young families, and we must always be aware and working for the best interest of the air base.

I believe we have the wisdom, experience and knowledge within this community to address and solve these problems and I want to be a catalyst to pull that wisdom, experience and knowledge together to once again make Jacksonville the place people want to call home.

Dupree: There are some issues that are extremely important for the betterment of the city that none of the other candidates have addressed.

Elliott: I am running for mayor because I love Jacksonville. Jacksonville has been good to me and as mayor I look forward to the opportunity to serve the citizens of Jacksonville. I feel that I have the experience, leadership and dedication to lead Jacksonville. I will commit all my resources to provide a high quality of life for our citizens, military and businesses while striving to have clean, safe, orderly growth and change.

I believe we must be progressive with a plan for where Jacksonville wants to be in five years and 10 years.

Fletcher: I want to serve as mayor of Jacksonville simply because I love my city and want to lead her into developing her full potential.

I want to see her become the greatest place to live in central Arkansas. I want prosperity for her citizens. I want them to feel safer. I want them to feel excited and proud of the quality of life here in Jacksonville. I want to build upon the foundations in which my predecessors have laid. I want to carry out that hope that is deeply embedded within us as a community to achieve success in our business community as well as in our personal homes, to bring us together with a common vision and purpose to preserve the hope that our children can receive quality education in order for them to compete successfully in our world, and to strengthen our air base in its mission as well as in its relationship with our community.

Rhodd: So we may take back our city and make it a safe place to raise our children.

Urquhart: I believe it is time for someone new with a fresh set of eyes and a strong sense of community pride and commitment.

As mayor I want to work for everyone throughout our community. I want to see opportunities provided for more of our citizens to be involved which will ultimately build their confidence and more future leaders for our home town.

We have to clean up what we have and develop a long-term plan to rebuild people’s confidence in our city. I constantly hear people say, “It’s time for new blood.” I am that fresh new blood, that fresh new beginning.

I am that guy who is trying to break the old mold and give people hope for a brighter future.

Leader: What experience qualifies you to be mayor?

Brooks: The experience of having never held an “elected” or “appointed” political position, while at the same time being an active, involved taxpaying member of this community together with years of multi-tasking as a wife, mother, homemaker, teacher and retail business owner, all give me a unique perspective of the needs of our community.

Since 1977, I have actually made my living selling Jacksonville to people who have a choice of living here or in our surrounding cities. A Realtor must keep abreast of the community, must know community resources and must know where to go to get answers to assist the public in solving a problem and following up to make sure there has been a satisfactory solution to the problem.

Dupree: My involvement in the overall development of Jacksonville working with the water, sewer and street departments, as well as the parks department, has given me a thorough understanding of the needs in those areas.

With my degree in business, which included finance and economics, along with my experience in managing companies and personnel, I feel my background is broad and varied enough to qualify me for the position of mayor.

Elliott: My experience as chairman of Jacksonville Planning Commission, chairman of Pulaski County Planning Board, city council, Arkansas Municipal League Executive Committee, National League of Cities Information, Technology and Communication Committee and experience working with Little Rock Air Force Base, state legislature and congressional leaders in Washington, D.C., make me the most qualified candidate to lead Jacksonville. My leadership and dedication to the community has been recognized by serving as Jaycees president, Boys Club president, vice mayor, Arkansas Municipal League vice president and being selected as Jaycees International senator, Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame and LRAFB honorary commander.

Fletcher: My life experiences more than qualify me to serve as mayor of Jacksonville. I bring a business approach to the mayor’s office. Through over 35 years as a subcontractor and general contractor, I have developed skills that range from labor to acting as boss, developing such skills as running construction projects and working within a budget.

I have also had over 30 years of experience in the workings of local government, serving as alderman of Jacksonville since 1978. I have helped spearhead projects such as the traffic light at the James Street overpass and introduced ordinances like the drug paraphernalia ordinance, which later became state law. I have served the mayor’s office as vice mayor over the past two administrations.

With a blend of both backgrounds, I feel qualified to serve the citizens of this great city as their mayor.

Rhodd: My personal knowledge of our city and the problems that plague us.

Urquhart: My basic qualifications to be mayor are: I’m a registered voter, I’m a home owner, a taxpayer and 115 registered voters signed my petition. The final true qualification will come after the Jacksonville voters speak.

To prepare myself for leadership, I have taken on many different roles in our community and opportunities at work.

I am serving in my seventh year on the Jacksonville Wastewater Commission as secretary. I am in my second term on the board at the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, currently serving as treasurer. I have been an officer in the Jacksonville Rotary Club and the Jacksonville Lions Club. Serving on the Jacksonville Boys and Girls Club board is the most rewarding, because of who our customers are.

I am also a graduate of LeadAR, the premier leadership-development program in Arkansas hosted by the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

Most importantly, I love our city and I believe in the citizens of our fine community.
Leader: What will be the first thing you do as mayor?

Brooks: My first tangible project will be the development, production and distribution of a small-business directory for Jacksonville. This directory will be provided to each household, paid for by the city and will give type, name, address and phone number of all businesses in Jacksonville that have paid a privilege tax for 2009.

When people are aware of what they can buy in Jacksonville, and know where to find what they need, I believe our citizens will buy in Jacksonville.

At the same time, I will establish an advisory board of citizens who hold no elected or appointed positions in the city or county to review and critique my programs as well as some of the present city practices.

Dupree: The first thing I would do as mayor would be to have a meeting of all department heads to be brought up-to-date on matters concerning their areas.

Elliott: I will see that existing projects such as police and fire training facility and LRAFB education center are completed in a timely manner. I will establish a housing committee to develop a plan to improve housing and address aging housing such as Sunnyside Addition. All programs in the Economic Recovery Act will be reviewed to make sure we are taking full advantage of any funding available to address housing, public safety and other special needs.

Fletcher: Due to the timing of taking office during mid-year, it will be important to maintain stability in the departments in order that city services continue in the positive way our fine employees and department heads have committed to in the past. Getting a firm grip on the finances of the city, as to money is spent and committed. Also, to see how the tax receipts are coming in and closely watching how the overall economy is affecting our local businesses.

I would start our administration in the early weeks through building and strengthening our relationships with those on the air base, school district, Metroplan and various boards that are in the decision-making process that affects the areas important to Jacksonville.

I would meet with department heads and discuss our goals for their departments and the city as a whole to make sure we are all working toward the same overall goal. I would also work with them to put together the 2010 budget, which will begin soon after taking office. Meet with various boards and commissions, especially planning as to future annexation and the strategies to move forward.

The first few months will be a time of laying ground work for the projects that I feel are important to our citizens and city such as Graham Road, school system, developing an active and valuable line of communication in Washington, D.C., to promote and grow our air base. The remainder of 2009 will be to finish the work started, putting into place the mechanism for future projects that promote growth, stability and prosperity. To work toward a stronger relationship between the hospital and our doctors if that is not accomplished within the coming weeks.

We must preserve this relationship for the quality of life for our community as a whole.

Rhodd: I will address the Graham Road crossing.

Urquhart: My first order of business on my first day will be to meet with the city’s department heads. I will want a report from their departments so that I can evaluate their needs. We will need to begin making plans to work together to move forward as a team and build trust between us.

Leader: What are the most pressing issues facing Jacksonville and how will you work to solve such problems?

Brooks: I believe the most pressing issue facing Jacksonville at this moment is the possibility of losing our medical community to Sherwood. I do not think the citizens have forgotten that we lost 2,000 undeveloped acres near the base and Gravel Ridge to Sherwood. We certainly do not need a repeat performance with our local doctors.

Without our doctors, it is hard to imagine how our hospital can survive for any period of time, not to mention the hardship that traveling out of Jacksonville will create for our citizens, especially our seniors. The city does not need to be left with owning the hospital, the clinic in Cabot, medical offices on Marshall Road, the medical offices in Crestview and the medical complex in question with no doctors.

I have requested from both Cong. Snyder and Sen. Lincoln’s offices a copy of the federal regulations that dictates how rents are determined in local hospitals. Hopefully, there will be other options for establishing the rent rate when federal rules apply. It is possible this issue will be brought to a successful resolution by election day. Certainly, we all hope so; however, if it is not,
I will make every effort to bring the two sides together.

I learned in the Vertac battle when the federal government has the city backed in a corner, engage the hearts and minds of the people in finding a solution, unite the people and fight for what is right and best for all concerned.

The unresolved issue of our own separate school system is a major concern. This must continue as a high priority for our city. No matter what else our city does, it will not grow and prosper to the max with the present school situation.

Other pressing issues include continued recruiting and retention of new business and industry, and reopening of the Graham Road crossing. We must continue to be proactive in meeting the needs of our senior citizens and always be vigilant concerning the future of the base.

Dupree: One of the most pressing issues is work toward establishing a pubic-safety commission with the police, fire and medical departments under it. I would work with the three departments to create this and would bring the issue to the city council for approval.

Another issue is the completion of work on Hwy. 67/167, which includes widening and interchange improvements. This can be done by advanced planning with completed plans being readied for construction so when infrastructure money becomes available from Washington, Jacksonville will have a good chance of obtaining funds.

A third issue would be encouraging the expansion of the city through annexation along Hwy. 67/167, Hwy. 161 and Hwy. 294.
Elliott: I believe our future depends on the quality of the educational system in Jacksonville. I am committed to doing everything I can to improve the schools in Jacksonville. I will support the Jacksonville Education Foundation in working to have a Jacksonville school district with good schools and a safe environment to educate our children. I will work with Little Rock Air Force Base on completing the LRAFB Education Center, which will provide excellent opportunities for our citizens.

We must work on economic development to sustain our existing businesses, attract new businesses, restaurants, and jobs as well as to fill the vacant buildings in Jacksonville. I feel the city and chamber of commerce need to work together to support our businesses and maintain a business-friendly environment.

I will encourage community involvement to improve the image of Jacksonville and develop community pride. I will establish a volunteerism committee to use the many resources we have in Jacksonville.

We must work to see that our citizens have quality medical services in Jacksonville. I will work with the hospital board, and hospital and medical clinic to keep hospital and health care professionals in Jacksonville to provide quality health care.

Fletcher: The most pressing issue facing Jacksonville is the need for an independent school district. At this particular time, the situation is held up in court.

However, I would like to meet and develop a relationship with the new school superintendent. Coming together without the past baggage will enable us to discuss the common goal of what is in the best interest for every student in the current Pulaski County School District. My purpose will be for us to find a productive way to help our city move forward in this downtime. One way is seeking to give our community some freedom under the school board’s authority to start the process of making plans for new schools.

Doing small things such as this will add up to be big steps when the time comes for us to be released.

Rhodd: Job losses are our most pressing issue. I would work hard to bring jobs to our city and improve our economy.

Urquhart: Currently the most pressing issues we have in our community are getting our own school district, securing the future of the hospital and medical clinic, and cleaning up the appearance of our city.

The schools have played a vital role in the decline of our community. Over the past 20 years, young families have given up hope on being able to give their children a quality education in the schools we have here in Jacksonville. In most cases they chose to move out or just pass us by. The mayor and the city council must take a more active role in getting Jacksonville out of PCSSD.

A quality health care system starts at the clinical level and builds up through the hospital. We must all work together to change the perception of our hospital and secure the future of our medical clinic. I believe we need to find common ground with our doctors on the rental agreement so that we can meet their needs for clinical space and they can meet our needs for a locally owned, quality health care system. It will take all parties working together willing to give and take.

People’s first impression of our community should not be dirty. We must change that perception.

I believe we must start in our neighborhoods and move throughout the city with a new spirit of cleanliness. If people would work together in their neighborhoods to clean up their own properties and hold others accountable for not, a real change could be made. The city must continue to be there for support and enforcement.

A large percentage of our home inventory has turned into rentals and I believe the landlords should also be held accountable if the renters are not taking care of the property being provided to them. After all, these properties are suppose to be investments just like the owner-occupied properties and a bunch of parked cars all over the yard leaves a bad impression on anyone looking for a new home.

Working together as a community, we can accomplish these issues and focus on anything new that comes along. These three issues currently hold the key to future growth for the city of Jacksonville.

Leader: What will you do to make Jacksonville more appealing for people to want to move here?

Brooks: To make Jacksonville more appealing for people, we must enlist the help of our citizens. While health, education and transportation issues are being resolved, we need to remember that first impressions are important to newcomers. I would encourage a quarterly pick-up, cleanup and spruce-up campaign in the entire community so that we can all enjoy a more beautiful Jacksonville.

Again, community involvement is necessary. Our city employees do a great job, but they need the help of the citizens to keep Jacksonville clean and beautiful.

Our city is probably one of the most multi-cultural cities in Arkansas. We have the resources in our diverse citizens to enhance educational and cultural development throughout all age groups in Jacksonville.

Dupree: I will continue to promote “Keep Jacksonville Beautiful” projects. My feeling is first you have litter, then trash, then crime. I would establish a public safety commission to have more stable police, fire and emergency medical departments. Safety and security is important to people where they reside.

I’ll work on getting Hwy. 67/167 completed because good roads with safe driving conditions are vital. At the present time, people are driving through the Jacksonville area to try to avoid the 67/167 corridor. I’ll work on expansion and improvement of the Jacksonville park system, which will bring in people to use the amenities that the city offers.

I’ll support the creation of a north Pulaski school district as well as assisting efforts by any private schools or higher education institutions to further the advancement of learning. Good schools are important to people where they live.

Elliott: Our city needs to enforce or improve city codes and support Keep Jacksonville Beautiful to have a clean city. As mayor, I will see that the police and fire departments have the resources needed to reduce crime and provide us a safe city. I will ensure the city receives our fair share of COPS funding and Justice Assistance Grants.

Fletcher: Aesthetically speaking, there is a fine line between maintenance and manicured. People do buy what is appealing to the eye. We need to identify these things and areas of our city that distract and correct them.

We also can build on the positives that we already possess. I would love to see a thriving downtown area with a park-like setting that would entice people to want to spend time there. The appeal of Jacksonville will be a key in my administration that will determine my success as mayor.

I want to make Jacksonville a place people consider when looking for a place to retire. This will include addressing the issues that are important to senior adults such as personal safety, a clean community, health care facilities, recreational opportunities, transportation, shopping conveniences, eating establishments and affordable, well-desired housing.

I would also like to see more neighborhood parks in which young families can spend quality time. Neighborhood parks are also great in developing relationships with neighbors, which helps to promote a strong sense of community.

Rhodd: I’ll work to make Jacksonville a more productive city, one that stands out among other cities.

Urquhart: We must focus our attention as a community working together with one voice to get our own school district.
The voters of Jacksonville have always come together when there is an issue or need that we can fix ourselves. Our state-of-the-art library is the newest example of that collective spirit.

Partnering with Little Rock Air Force Base to build a center for higher education is another example of coming together to add appeal to our community. However, none of these projects will hold a candle to what a locally controlled school district would do for adding appeal to this great city.

When people go looking for a new place to live they have one question, “How are the schools?” The appeal comes when a community puts children first in education. I will work tirelessly to unify this community behind one common goal: a district of our own for our children and our grandchildren.

Leader: What will you do to make Jacksonville look more appealing especially related to the landfill at Jacksonville’s entrance and the abandoned stores at the Graham Road crossing?

Brooks: I will appoint a landfill oversight panel to ensure that Waste Management is held to the standards presented at the March 6 Jacksonville City Council meeting. Those standards address, but are not limited to, ADEQ’s requirement for Waste Management to implement a landscaping plan for both sides of the highway and the initiation of Audubon Society of Arkansas and Waste Management’s pilot plan for habitat restoration, including wetlands for Two Pine Landfill.

The wetland development would consist of habitat as well as nature trails and educational facilities. In addition, the daily covering of garbage with six inches of soil, landscaping and monitoring wells will ensure maintaining Two Pine Landfill to the highest standard. We also need long-range assurances that our waste rates will be stable.

Opening Graham Road will in itself solve the abandoned store problem in that area. I would also encourage the city to provide some start-up help, hopefully through grants, for those willing to undertake the rebuilding of the blighted area.

Dupree: I will continue to work with the Keep Jacksonville Beautiful organization and work with Two Pine Landfill operation concerning the landfill to keep the area as appealing as possible.

Elliott: I want to upgrade signage and landscaping at the north and south entrances to Jacksonville and work with the state Highway Department to install lighting along Hwy. 67/167 through Jacksonville, including the Vandenberg and Redmond Road exits. I will work with the owners of the landfill to improve the appearance and make it less visible from Hwy. 67/167 and Hwy. 440.

The Audubon Society has plans for a habitat-restoration project for the Two Pine Landfill.

I will work to see what kind of state or federal programs and funding are available to improve the area around the Graham Road crossing. I will ask for increased police presence to help this area.

Fletcher: It is unfortunate that the landfill is at our front door. One option for disguising and possibly hiding the landfill are green screens, which are created by planting types of trees that grow fast and thick.

I believe the management of the landfill is interested in being good neighbors and will be open to recommendations on how to improve the appearance of the landfill.

Rhodd: A nice wall around the landfill would be a good start, and opening new businesses on Graham Road.

Urquhart: We need to work with Waste Management to encourage them to put together a plan and show our community their intentions for returning the land to its natural beauty and usability. I have heard they have a plan and I believe they need to spend some time and money showing us what to expect.

Leader: What will you do to open the Graham Road closure and bring the businesses back to Jacksonville that were forced to shut down?

Brooks: My first efforts to open Graham Road have begun and will not stop regardless of the outcome of this race. Numerous citizens have asked me who really closed the railroad crossing — was it city hall? Was it Union Pacific? Was it Metroplan?

Exactly who made that decision? I don’t have the answer, but the answer is out there.

I do believe that had I been on the city council for the duration of time two of my opponents have served, I would have waged an open campaign to restore the crossing. Yes, the cost may have been $4 million, but have our citizens been given an opportunity to decide? If necessary, would this have been a good place for our tax dollars to have gone?

Once again, citizens have to become involved. A few have tried, but it will take more than a few and it will take someone willing to fight to get this done. As stated earlier, I fought the fight during Vertac, and I will fight again for our city and our people.

Once we win the battle and open the crossing, again I will encourage the city to help bring back the businesses that were shut down.

Dupree: I would appoint a task force of three people from the city council who were involved in the closure to see what can be done to reopen the crossing.

Elliott: I have given this subject considerable thought and feel that the safety of school children and all citizens of Jacksonville are best served by the Graham Road crossing remaining closed. The following information supports my decision: In the application for the Main Street overpass it states that the Graham Road crossing would have to be closed. The project was approved and funded based on this application and the safety issues regarding the closing of the two crossings. The project would have been in jeopardy without closing the Graham Road crossing. Jim McKenzie with Metroplan has told the city that we could be responsible for the federal share of funding ($3,445,925) if we tried to open the crossing and it could hurt our chances of any future funding. The railroad has said that they are trying to eliminate dangerous, at-grade crossings and it is very unlikely they would ever allow one to be opened once it is closed.

The fire chief and police chief have stated that the crossing has not affected their response times to emergencies but has improved response times because they do not have to wait on trains. Chief Vanderhoof has said that the standard route would be the overpass. The overpass made a safer access for children to Jacksonville Elementary School.

Fletcher: Ever since I have been involved in politics (1974), this area of our town has felt disconnected from the rest of Jacksonville due to the location of the railroad tracks. The hope of the overpass was to correct this issue as well as stimulate the economy in business and home values. However, just the opposite has taken place.

Most businesses on Graham Road have been shut down and boarded up. This area has a rundown type of appearance. In order to change the rundown appearance that has resulted from the closing we must determine what the best option is for bringing this area back to life.

Two possible options include either reopening the crossing or possibly redesigning the foot of the bridge to make Graham Road more easily accessible.

I pledge to be sensitive to the needs of the people affected by the closing by working closely with those who make the final decision and developing a strategy that benefits the entire community.

Rhodd: I would reopen Graham Road and bring life back to that business area. That would be a plus for Jacksonville.

Urquhart: I am truly in favor of seeing the railroad crossing at Graham Road reopen. I believe we will need to put together a group of people to develop plans for revitalizing that very important part of our community.

We must understand it will take time to accomplish a complete turnaround in that area. I know we can do it working together.
Leader: How will you work with LRAFB? What relationship do you now have with the base?

Brooks: My commitment, support and appreciation to Little Rock Air Force Base is two-fold. As the mother of a paratrooper dropped from a C-130 into Panama in Operation Just Cause, I understand with my heart and my mind the mission of our United States Air Force and the personnel stationed at LRAFB.

The air base is the lifeblood of our city and much of the region of Arkansas. The impact of the retired community of military people as well as the active force assigned here is vast and is essential to the future growth and development of Jacksonville and central Arkansas. This impact is not only economic, but educational and cultural as well.

My relationship with Little Rock Air Force Base is through the local chamber of commerce, where I serve on the military/government relations committee and through my individual experience of dealing with incoming and outgoing military families as they buy or sell homes.

Dupree: I would continue to work along with the chamber, staying in contact with the Department of Defense and the Pentagon, as well as our congressional delegation in Washington for whatever needs the base may have. Also, on trips to Washington for lobbying purposes at the Pentagon, I will also lobby with the National Guard at their offices in Washington.

Through my past work with the Jacksonville Museum of Military History, the Sertoma Club, Reed’s Bridge Battlefield Preservation Society and other organizations, I feel I have a good rapport with the base and its personnel. I have also provided books on the history of LRAFB to the Arkansas Air National Guard and regular Air Force Base personnel.

I would continue to promote goodwill between the community and the base.

Elliott: I will continue to work to maintain a good relationship with LRAFB and work with our congressional leaders to secure the future of Little Rock Air Force Base. I am very involved in base activities as an honorary commander and member of LRAFB Community Council.

Fletcher: I will be a great advocate for Little Rock Air Force Base. As one who greatly admires our heroes who sacrifice so much that we all may enjoy freedom, I especially am grateful for the opportunity to serve in this capacity as an elected official under a great democracy.

I am aware that this privilege comes at a cost that our men and women in uniform pay in sacrificial ways that many times may cost them their lives, not to mention the sacrifices which are made by their spouses and children.

I will fight to support the growth of our base, to make sure our congressional delegation are constantly made aware of equipment needs, service personnel and the needs for family support.

Rhodd: I would encourage them to be part of projects and schools in our area, as well as keep open communications with the leaders of the base. LRAFB is a big part of our city and their input is just as important and necessary as the next guy.

Urquhart: I understand the military having served in the United States Army Reserves. The basic principles I apply to my everyday life I learned in the Army: duty, honor and country. It is these three principles that are visible in my commitment to Little Rock Air Force Base.

I have been an active member of the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council for the past five years. I have served as chairman of the Chamber/Base Golf Tournament for the past four years, growing the tournament each year.

In 2005, Gen. Schatz recognized my dedication to the mission of Team Little Rock and appointed me to serve as an honorary commander for the 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron. I continue to serve as an honorary commander emeritus today.

The mission of Team Little Rock, “Combat Airlift,” is a major key to the continued success and growth of our hometown.

Jacksonville must continue to work to provide services and opportunities for the families of the men and women who come to train on LRAFB from 28 different nations around the world. I will continue my support and dedication to the men and women that train on our base.

I will continue to work with congressional members to ensure the strength in mission and support of Little Rock Air Force Base.

I will continue to encourage every citizen in Jacksonville to support the mission of Team Little Rock.