My name is Nick Jones and I am running for State Representative in District 91. The district includes Centerton, Gentry, Cave Springs, Highfill, Gravette, and parts of Bentonville and Rogers. I am running for State Representative because I believe in the virtue in public service. I’ve served my country and now I want to serve my community.
When I moved back to NWA, I started looking into what issues were impacting the area and one of the first things I came across was that 25% of the children in NWA (Washington and Benton County) go to bed hungry every night. Let that sink in, 1 in 4 children in our area live in poverty. With the high levels of affluence and resources around here, there is no excuse for such an appalling reality. The only meals that those kids can rely on come from school. If that child is ill and misses a day, they are likely to go hungry. This statistic runs through my mind daily and now I want to make a tangible effort to change it.
I am also running because, as a veteran, I have seen first-hand the difficulties vets face when leaving the military and enter the civilian workforce. Necessary resources, such as veteran-specific resume assistance, employment assistance, and job training, are not available to help make the transition to civilian life successful. Some vets, specifically those with disabilities, need additional assistance and resources when seeking employment. I believe that if we were to create programs to provide these things alongside partnering with businesses who truly care about hiring veterans, we could improve their quality of life and allow more vets to succeed when integrating back into public life.
In my current position as a substance abuse counselor, I have seen the damage that the opioid crisis in particular and drugs and alcohol, in general, have caused our friends, family, and neighbors, especially in the more rural areas. These individuals often struggle with getting treatment due to a lack of transportation. People can’t get treatment if they can’t make it to their appointments. As a legislator, I intend to push for infrastructure improvements as well as a public transport system to make the pathway to rehabilitation easier. Also, improving our infrastructure now will allow our cities to be prepared for the projected influx of over 800,000 additional people by 2050.
Another one of my concerns is public education as I believe it is the great equalizer. It allows children from all backgrounds to forge a pathway to success, but our state is falling behind. Because of budget cuts and low teacher pay, the quality of education is dwindling. I intend to increase the funding of our public schools through tax reforms that take the burden of tax away from the lower and middle classes and shift it to those who can afford it. Also, I believe in the power of Universal Pre-K. When children are given the opportunity to participate in a Pre-K program, they are less likely to go to prison and more likely to complete high school and go on to attend college or a trade school.
Lastly, but certainly not least, I recognize the obscene costs of healthcare and how that makes it inaccessible for everyday Arkansans. Nobody should have to choose between their medication and food. I intend to mitigate this issue by creating legislation that would allow for our medicare system to negotiate drug prices with PhARMA directly.
This is my vision for Arkansas. Thank you for allowing me to share it with you. I hope you see that I strive to embody my motto, Service Before Self, and hope to represent you in our statehouse in 2021. I cannot do it without your help though, so please consider donating through our ActBlue link, signing up for our email list, or volunteering.