Politicians Speak at Labor Day Picnic
The Rector Labor Day Picnic has always been a magnet for political candidates both local and statewide and the parade and the park grounds saw plenty of waving and handshaking on Monday.
Two gubernatorial candidates perhaps drew the most attention as Republican Asa Hutchinson and Democrat Mike Ross were on hand to meet potential voters in their quest to succeed the term-limited Mike Beebe.
Ross participated in the parade, but had to leave shortly after the event to fly to an event in Texarkana.
Hutchinson spoke briefly at the picnic area and praised the "hometown values in Rector," noting that he grew up in an similar community on the opposite side of the state.
The GOP candidate said he has held some of the "toughest jobs in our country," serving under President George Bush in the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Dept. of Homeland Security.
Hutchinson said he has a "passion for job growth" in the state and cited his position as the conservative candidate who is for free enterprise, less regulation and lower taxes.
He also said he was early in his position as "standing hand and foot against Obamacare."
Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, John Burkhalter, also was in the parade but left on the flight to Texarkana. He pledged to visit the area again soon in his quest for the position.
Congressman Rick Crawford was the first speaker on the stage, noting in brief remarks that the "biggest issue in Washington is geography."
The Republican incumbent said the rural-urban conflict is clear in Congress and his goal is to represent the people of this area from a "rural perspective."
Jett Announces Intentions
State Rep. Joe Jett of Success, who represents this area in District 56, used the occasion to announce his intention to seek re-election.
The first-term Democratic legislator said he works hard to "represent the values of Northeast Arkansas" and asked those present to contact him at any time with their problems or concerns.
He said he has worked effectively with State Sen. Robert Thompson of Paragould on projects of mutual concern.
Sen. Thompson also spoke briefly from the stage and specifically mentioned the role he and Rep. Jett have played in keeping the National Guard Armory in Rector open.
Other candidates who spoke before the crowd to open up the day of festivities at the park were Circuit Judge candidate Melissa Bristow Richardson, incumbent Pros. Atty. Scott Ellington, Court of Appeals candidate Raymond Abramson and Circuit Judge candidate Dan Ritchey.
Rector mayor David Freeman welcomed the crowd to the annual picnic. During his brief remarks, he thanked all the volunteers who spent countless hours working on the Labor Day Picnic and other community projects.