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District 27, Burrell vs. Garner – Cleveland County Herald

Second Amendment


Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series on the State Senate races in Cleveland County. This week, the candidates for District 27 respond to the same set of questions posed to each by the Herald.

Keidra Burrell

Keidra Burell
  • Party: Democrat
  • Age: 41
  • Family: I am married with 3 children. A 17 year old girl, a 4 year old boy and a 1 year old boy.
  • Residence: Pine Bluff
  • Education: Bachelors of Arts in International Studies from the University of Miami, and a Juris Doctorate from Tulane University. I am licensed to practice law in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas.
  • Occupation: Attorney, Business Owner
  • List the political offices you have held: Chief of Staff, City of Pine Bluff
  • List any other information you would like people to know about you: I would like people to know that I am a wife, mother and an active member of our community. I believe in South Arkansas and I know that we can and will make progress for our district.

Issues

What do you consider the three most pressing issues facing your senate district, and what would you do to address them?

  1. Our public schools in South Arkansas are crumbling, because they are chronically under-funded. We have to get our teachers and school districts more resources, because the only way for every child in South Arkansas to have opportunity is for every child in South Arkansas to have access to an excellent school.
  2. COVID has pressed so many of our small businesses & workers. The state must dispense, and request more of, the CARES act funding made available by the federal government. Without it, Arkansas is in for a long recovery.
  3. We need more rural health clinics. Too many people in my district live over an hour away from a health provider. We need to expand access to life saving care and medicine.

Do you support Issue 1 making the state half-cent highway sales tax permanent? Why or why not?

I support Issue 1. I don’t like the idea of permanent taxes, but south Arkansas roads are bad, and good infrastructure is an equity issue. Our small businesses are already pressed, and we are at a disadvantage with bad infrastructure. So I support Issue 1 and the needed investments.

What role do you see state government playing in regards to addressing the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic?

Our state government’s job, during a public health emergency, is to listen to medical experts and administrate sound public health policy.

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What positions do you take on the following issues:

  • Abortion – I am pro-Choice. Women have a constitutionally protected right to make private healthcare decisions with the help and support of their healthcare professionals. And while I support a women’s right to choose, I believe we have confused Pro-Birth and Pro-Life. Until we commit fiscally to resources for young women, foster care and adoption, and taking care of children when they are born such as funding their education; we cannot require a woman to follow thru with an unplanned pregnancy. We have to do our part.
  • Gun Laws – I’m a gun owner and I’m pro-2nd amendment. I favor policies like universal background checks, which 80% of Americans support, to help make sure violent criminals can’t get their hands on guns.
  • Protecting the Environment – I’ve been endorsed by the Sierra Club, and I practice Environmental Law. Arkansas is the Natural State, and we have to preserve our natural beauty.
  • Immigration – We are a nation of immigrants, and I am for immigration reform. DREAMers need a pathway to citizenship, and we need humane immigration policies that keep migrant families together. We need to encourage lawful entry, and we need to take asylum claims seriously.

Why should voters elect you?

I care about South Arkansas. I show up in our community, and I know this community. The way things are now isn’t working for us – I’m not afraid to be a voice of progress for South Arkansas.


Trent Garner

Trent Garner
  • Party: Republican
  • Age: 36
  • Family: wife, Kelly Garner; son, Lincoln Garner (4 years old); daughter, Delta Garner (2 years old).
  • Residence: El Dorado
  • Education: Bachelor Degree in Political Science from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock; Master in Arts in Political Science and Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas.
  • Occupation: Attorney
  • List the political offices you have held: State Senator since 2016.
  • List any other information you would like people to know about you: I was a Special Forces Green Beret who served two tours in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. My military decorations include Bronze Star with V device, Combat Infantry Badge and Special Forces Tab.

Issues

What do you consider the three most pressing issues facing your senate district, and what would you do to address them?

  1. The most pressing issues in South Arkansas are handling the COVID-19 crisis, improving education, and helping our veterans. The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply impacted the people of South Arkansas. When the pandemic hit, I saw people were hurting and acted to help them. I know that small businesses are the lifeblood of Arkansas. That’s why I’ve worked hard to secure over $100 million for small businesses to buy the protective equipment they need to safely re-open. Thousands of Arkansans lost their jobs when the pandemic started. Many of them needed unemployment benefits to survive. When payments to Arkansans were delayed, I demanded answers and held government officials accountable until the problem was fixed, getting checks to hurting Arkansans. Nurses, EMTs, and nursing home workers have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep our families health. I led the way to secure critical PPE and for bonus pay to ensure our healthcare system would stay strong when Arkansans need it the most.
  2. As a son of a school teacher, I know how important our education is to our state. I helped pass a law that would increase teachers’ pay by thousands of dollars. Under my proven leadership, we expanded Pre-K education for thousands of children. I fought for funding for broadband internet. In the Senate, I secured millions of dollars for rural broadband internet for South Arkansas.
  3. As a veteran, I made it a priority to lead the way on improving the lives of veterans in Arkansas. I eliminated the veterans’ retirement income tax, which means our veterans will keep every dollar they earn for their military service. I created a study to help combat veteran’s suicide rates in Arkansas. I secured millions of dollars to go directly to our veterans impacted by COVID-19.

Do you support Issue 1 making the state half-cent highway sales tax permanent? Why or why not?

I don’t support making the state half-cent highway sales tax permanent. That is why I ran an amendment to add a sunset clause. We need to lower taxes on hardworking Arkansans. We could find other ways to fund our highways and keep our roads safe.

What role do you see state government playing in regards to addressing the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic?

The state government played a critical role in helping the people who were hurt by COVID-19 in Arkansas. Under President Trump’s leadership, Arkansas was allowed to have the freedom to put policies in place that worked best for us. I went to work for South Arkansas, working with Governor Hutchinson to put good policies in place. We secured vital PPE and testing for thousands of Arkansans, secured much-needed unemployment pay for those who lost their jobs, and bonus pay for our brave first responders.

What positions do you take on the following issues:

  • Abortion – I am 100% pro-life. While my opponent supports abortion on demand, I believe we have to protect the lives of the most innocent among us. That is why I passed a bill to protect babies with Down syndrome from being selectively aborted because of their condition. In Arkansas, being made differently shouldn’t be a death sentence. That is why I am so honored to be endorsed by Arkansas Right to Life.
  • Gun Laws – I support our 2nd Amendment right to self-defense. With the increase in violence in the world and the civil unrest we face, it is more important than ever that you can protect your family. My opponent would fight against stronger protection for you and your family. I have lead the charge to protect your fundamental rights. That is why I am proud to be endorsed by the National Rifle Association.
  • Protecting the Environment – As a hunter and conservative, I know it is important we protect our environment. In Arkansas, we have put in smart policies that allow people to enjoy and use our outdoors without damaging our economy. What we can’t afford is a “Green New Deal” type plan that would destroy our economy and cost thousands of dollars to our families.
  • Immigration – Our state has always been a beacon for others across the world. Legal immigration is a key part to growing our economy and we should encourage those who followed the law to move here. However, we can’t become a “sanctuary” state that allows dangerous criminal to move freely. We have to enforce federal law against illegal aliens.

Why should voters elect you?

I am a proven leader for South Arkansas. I was born and raised here, I know the people of South Arkansas, and fought for them. I didn’t move here for to advance my career. I’m here to advance my community. We have made so much progress the last four years, and we can’t trust untested politicians who only offer failed ideas that don’t work. We have to keep moving forward and I am the proven leader to do it.

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