NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — We’re taking a closer look at the race for state representative in District 86 which includes a portion of Washington County.
“I just wanted to be a voice that brought a little bit of unity, a little bit of reason and a little bit of level head to politics,” said Democrat Rep. Nicole Clowney.
Clowney is a professor at the University of Arkansas with a background in law. She is a democrat and the current State House Representative for District 86. She has held the seat since 2018.
Republican candidate, John La Tour is competing for the district.
“I wanted there to be a conservative voice in our area of the city. I’m in favor of lower taxes, I’m in favor of equality for everybody,” said La Tour.
He is a CPA, tax attorney and a former Fayetteville city council member.
One area they both want more focus on is education.
“If we are still teaching the way we did 50 years ago then we missed the boat, so we need all types of options for people. Children should be assigned to a school based on their interest, their intellect, their ability not based on their zip codes,” said La Tour.
“We need to make sure that teaching is a job that is sustainable and that is attractive and we need to give our teachers all of the support they need to get us through this critical year,” said Clowney.
When it comes to the handling of COVID-19, Clowney said the pandemic brought to light many disparities minority communities face and that affordable health care needs to be a top priority.
“We need to make sure that every Arkansan has access to quality health care and we need to make sure that every Arkansan has access to a safe and healthy workplace,” said Clowney.
La Tour is in favor of lowering costs.
“We do that through competition; competition protects you and I the consumer not government regulations,” said La Tour.
The two have different views on the mask mandate.
“The science is clear that the masks slow the spread of COVID-19 and I was pleased that Fayetteville took the lead in creating its own mask ordinance,” said Clowney.
“The mask mandate, I think gives us a false sense of security because they don’t do much good according to my experts and scientist that I listen to. I think social distancing is the real answer,” said La Tour.
La Tour said the state should have reopened businesses much quicker than it did. Clowney disagrees.
“That is the way they make their living; I think that they should be allowed to make their living using common sense safeguards against all viruses, not just corona,” said La Tour.
“I think eye on the prize, slow and steady. I think we need to continue with the moderate restrictions that we have in place because Arkansas business owners are creative and are finding ways to make it work,” said Clowney.
“That was sarcasm and not true, there is no place where you can buy a hunting license for human beings… I was using satire to make the point that I disagree with their philosophy and what they are doing,” said La Tour.
“My response is pretty simple, hunting human beings is never a joke, violence is never funny and I think our job as elected officials to protect the people that we serve,” said Clowney.
La Tour deleted the post and says he understands why people were offended. He said although we won’t agree on everything his goal is to make policies that benefit everyone.
Clowney said no city or state is untouched by racism but one thing Fayetteville taught her is that the community is overwhelmingly against that kind of hate and she wants to continue to be a voice for all in her district.