Making appearances were candidates in the following races: State House District 97, Carroll County judge, county sheriff, and circuit clerk.
Following is an overview of the speeches by the candidates for House District 97, Bob Ballinger and Robert "Butch" Berry. Due to space restrictions in today's Weekend edition of the Carroll County News, the remainder of this report -- with coverage of the speeches in the additional races -- will be printed in Tuesday's Midweek edition. However, video of the speeches by each candidate in the State House, judge and sheriff races is now online and can be viewed at www.CarrollCoNews.com or watched directly by visiting the "Carroll County News Playlist" on the editor's YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/klkuykendall.
First up Tuesday evening was Bob Ballinger, the Republican nominee for the House District 97 seat being vacated by Republican Jonathan Barnett, who is running for re-election but in the re-drawn District 87. Ballinger faces Democrat opponent Robert "Butch" Berry, an eight-year veteran member of the Eureka Springs City Council and longtime Mayor Pro Tem there.
Ballinger quickly gave his education and work background, explaining that prior to graduating law school at the University of Arkansas in 2004, he was a schoolteacher. Since law school, he has worked at a local title company until recently starting his own law firm.
"I also am the director of an addictions ministry at my church, and that comes from a desire to help hurting people," he said. "My wife and I have 5.9 children -- we are actually three days overdue on our sixth so we should have a baby anytime -- but please don't ask my wife if I'm a good husband at least not while I'm campaigning."
Ballinger said the District 97 race is comprised of two people "who are genuinely seen as nice guys" but who have completely different visions for what they should do if elected to the House of Representatives.
"I believe that individuals are the ones who have the capability to make a difference -- if you want improvements, you want to add jobs, you want to just make this a better place to live, then what you should do is allow people with the expertise and skills, the individuals with their own gifts and talents, to exceed, and typically the government is a hindrance and not a help to that process," Ballinger said. "It's not that anyone has evil intent by thinking that big government is the solution, but I think they're wrong to think big government is the solution. And I don't think my opponent would necessary say that big government is the solution, but in practice, it seems that way."
Ballinger listed "ObamaCare" as an issue expected to become a major issue to be addressed by the next Legislature in January.
"That's a bill, a program that we can't afford it in Arkansas, we don't have the funds to pay for it; we can't afford to lose the liberty associated with it; and it's a program that's unsustainable," Ballinger said of President Obama's health care proposal. "So that's one of the difference in views that you have between me and my opponent, one of conservative, restrained government, versus government as the solution and the answer, which I think is part of the problem."
To view the entire speeches by Ballinger and Berry, see the video at the bottom of this article.
Next up was Berry, a fourth-generation Carroll County resident, and a practicing architect in Arkansas and Missouri. Berry said he was raised by his grandparents and they survived on Social Security and retirement benefits.
"I know what it's like to grow up without parents and have only the basic necessities of life," Berry said. "If I'm elected, I am going to be is a voice for the senior citizens and retirees of this community."
Berry explained that when he was a young boy, his father, as well as uncles on mother's side, died serving the United States as members of the Armed Forces, which was a hardship indeed but also allowed Berry to attend college later on the G.I. Bill. He added that he remains a big supporter of veterans' needs.
Berry listed several other major life lessons he's learned, including "learning how to accept others on their own merit, and being open-minded enough to listen to all people."
He said that as a longtime small businessman, he knows about business and business operators' needs as well. "I know the feeling of having to lay people off because of lack of work," he said. "I know what it's like to be scared about not knowing how to pay your bills and salaries, or even how to get a salary. And I know about government budgets, because I was director of the Capitol Zoning District Commission for eight years, the commission that governs all businesses and construction in the area around the State Capitol and the Governor's Mansion."
He explained that this experience would help him understand the needs of small communities and neighborhoods everywhere in his district and to balance them with the needs of the business community.
"I'm running because we need a leader we can trust to build on the progress that Arkansas has made under the leadership of Gov. Beebe, focused on strengthening jobs, creating jobs, helping education and balancing the state budget," Berry said. "I will ... work to make sure our community gets its share of progress."
Voters in Carroll County should elect people who understand this part of the state and its needs, he added, "not just a politician who'll help protect special interests."
"We need responsible leaders who will work to cut taxes responsibly while continuing to run state government efficiently," Berry pledged in his closing remarks.