Political Content Ahead- Don't Log Off. I'm not being paid by the special interests, so this is likely to be truthful and I won't try to slander anybody by repeating "O" word over and over or by referring to billionaire vote buyers.
Which is not that say that I could not be had. I wouldn't come cheap. My principles are high but JBarCycling is not much of a profit center.
Can you answer this question: Who is your Justice of The Peace?
I consider myself to be pretty involved and politically engaged, but I could not answer that question a few days ago. I went on line to the Pulaski County Government site where I found this handy interactive map. Simply click in where you live within Pulaski County and information regarding your JP will come up.The district map below is just a picture, so follow the link to use the tool.
Follow the link above to the interactive version of this map.
Justices of the Peace make up the Quorum Court, which is the county equivalent to a city council or board of directors. They are the folks who work with the county judge to approve the budgets for things like the jail, sheriff's department, roads and bridges, and sanitation. That includes, of course, Two Rivers Bridge, Big Dam Bridge, parks, and trail improvements. They also deal with zoning and land use. Land use has been a highly contentious issue recently as regards the Lake Maumelle watershed.
If I am belaboring this, please forgive me, but I've found that most of us, even those of us who are somewhat politically active, seem to pay little mind to the role of our county government. Judge Buddy Villines has provided strong leadership and has been a champion for improving the quality of life in Pulaski County by embracing the Arkansas River Trail System and making possible landmark projects such as the Big Dam Bridge and Two Rivers Park Bridge. Villines is retiring and the makeup of the quorum court will be more important than ever as a new county judge seeks to establish himself.
I was snoozing on a rainy afternoon last weekend when a knock came to my door. It was a young lady asking if I wanted a Staci Medlock sign in my yard. As with most door-to-door solicitors, I turned loose the crazed Willie dog on her.
After Willie got a head pat and curled up on the porch glider, I did take a campaign card, which had four key platform points:
-Protect our clean water supply I've been following the Lake Maumelle debate with interest and feel that a clean, healthy water supply is one of the most important things a vital community needs. I'm on board.
-Keep the county jail secure That takes money and good judgement. It's an ongoing problem and deserves to be a priority in keeping our communities safe.
-Provide interconnection hiking, biking, and running trails. I love that tune!
-While keeping a balanced budget That makes sense, as well.
After looking over the card, I realized that I liked what this woman had to say, but I needed to know more. First, I wanted to know who she was running against. I looked up her opponent Jesse Macom-Teague and, frankly, I did not like anything I saw from him. I will say that I agree that the county money being spent on the Broadway Bridge could have been better spent. It could have been used on better bike-ped accomodations rather than for decorative "basket handles".
Meeting Staci Medlock
As I am wont to do when I want to know something about a public figure, I contacted Medlock and asked her for a of her little time so that I could learn more. She is a realtor and we set a time to meet at her office.
I showed up at the appointed time and Staci blew in about a minute behind, apologizing that her last meeting had run just a little long. After introductions, she quickly secured a meeting room and we sat down for a chat. I can't bring myself to call my interrogation technique an interview, but I usually get a pretty good feel for things.
My first impression is that Medlock is energetic. Like not-quite-bouncing-off-the-walls energetic, and I mean that in a positive way. If you want to get something done, give it to somebody like her.
Staci Medlock will definitely bring some energy.
I had a few specific questions. I won't try to quote her verbatim in most cases, but I think I can accurately relate her positions.
What is your political experience?
"None. The seat was open and I've always been involved in my community. I'm a leader."
About the job of JP
"A lot of people think being a JP is about marrying people like you often see on TV or in movies. I don't have any interest in marrying people. It's about managing the money. It's about taking care of taxpayers money and being responsible to them. That's what I do for clients every day as a realtor."
Thoughts on the Pulaski County Jail
"I'm very passionate about public safety. Recent events have brought that close to home for us.", referring to the recent abduction and murder of a fellow Crye-Leike realtor shook our entire community.
Her view of the Arkansas River Trail System?
"It has improved the quality of life for county residents." She also understands the positive economic impact that follows. "It increases our property values. As a realtor, I can see that."
Medlock seemed to have a good understanding of the fact that many funding sources are tied to specific segments, such as roads, bridges and trails. By take advantage of those resources, the county can leverage our tax dollars to provide greater benefits to its citizens. For example, we can't take federal transportation dollars and use them to build more jails.
Are you a rider?
"I bought a bike and rode 50 miles at an event last summer. I rode in the BDB. I ride some and I run."
The Lake Maumelle Watershed.
Clean, healthy water. We absolutely have to have it. There has been a lot of talk in west Pulaski County that controlling development in the watershed amounts to the taking of land. Simply not true. Medlock is for responsible land use, as we all should be. As long as the land in west Pulaski County was virtually all timber, there was little threat to our water supply, but with development comes the need for reasonable regulation.
My impressions and conclusions
I found Medlock to be straightforward and transparent. When she said, "I'm a leader.", it was said without any shade of ego or self-importance. I think she's a leader simply because she goes to work with an energy that is hard to stay in front of. If you're not going to go as hard as she is, then you might want to get behind her.
I'm going to vote for Staci Medlock and I hope that my readers in District 15 do so, as well. I liked what she had to say and I liked her. She sells real estate and her husband is a builder, so she has an interest in growth within Pulaski County. She also seems to have a strong sense of responsibility to see that growth doesn't come at the cost of our quality of life.
Most of you live in other districts, so follow the link to the Pulaski County district map, find out if your JP seat is in play this year, and learn about the candidates. If you're like most of us, you likely have not given those races a lot of thought. Get informed and decide for yourself who will best represent your interests.
My thoughts on some of the county-wide issues: Jesse and I will not agree on much.
Medlock did not express an opinion of her opponent, but I will do so. I've always been of the opinion that you can do what you want on your land so long as the result doesn't run downhill on to mine. That's pretty simple. Requiring responsible land use in a watershed that supplies water to 600,000 people is simply a part of living in a civil society and a legitimate role of government..
Follow the link to a video of Macom-Teague and you'll hear that he thinks watershed regulation is another step by an overreaching government, along with what I consider to be some small-minded views on our bridge and trail development successes that have helped make Pulaski County a desirable place to live. He seems typical of many cookie cutter "conservatives" and Tea Party types we hear from these days. What I did not understand is why he chose to ride the watershed issue as a platform plank when his constituency in district 15 is in the middle of North Little Rock, where we need healthy water, but are not in the watershed. It becomes a little more clear when he declares, "by God, I care about my property rights" and states that our neighborhood is next in having the government, specifically, the Democrats, tell us how to use our land. Then he goes on to invoke the Consitution. Really? Does the Constitution prohibit zoning?
I want somebody to protect my interests, in this case our safe water, over some perceived threat to the fine folks out in Roland who might some day want to get into the factory pig farming business. I'm certainly not threatened by watershed regulation here in Park Hill. The government already tells me what I can do with my land, and I'm glad of it. I can't have noisy business in my neighborhood, I can't let my yard get out of control, let my dogs run loose, burn my trash, bring in a mobile home, build an outhouse in lieu of connecting to the sewer system, or keep a herd of cattle. Regulation of that type makes for good neighbors and protects our property values. Let them propose a convenience store next to Jesse's Indian Hills home and see if he still objects to government.
"We can't keep spending money on bike and hike trails if they're not safe."
He obviously hasn't spent any time on our trails. They're among the safest places in the county, largely due to the fact that they are used at all hours by thousands of folks like you and me.
Fear mongering 101: Create a threat where is is none and then promise to save us from it.
Your vote is important.
Unfortunately, far too many voters react to this kind of rhetoric without seriously evaluating the statements being made. Challenge the claims made by candidates. Most are easily proven or debunked by spending a few minutes on the computer. Get a sample ballot and become an informed voter. You might be surprised at how your ballot looks if you forget about the "D" and "R" and look at candidates' qualifications before deciding who will best serve your interests and beliefs.
Following the money works, as well. I found it interesting that the "family values" groups fighting electronic "games of skill" at Oaklawn Park a few years ago were largely funded by Southland Greyhound Park and the Mississippi casinos.