A political newcomer stated unanswered telephone calls impressed him to run towards the incumbent for Home District 44.

Rodney Govens, a Democrat from Cabot, is vying towards Rep. Cameron Cooper, a Republican from Romance.

“That is my first foray into politics. I’ve by no means held an elected place,” Govens stated. “In 2018, I used to be having a tough time determining Ward Water’s billing cycle. I referred to as all of my illustration – each single certainly one of them. No one answered the telephone. No one returned a single telephone name.”

Govens, 37, stated Cooper would not characterize the “working-class Arkansan.”

Cooper, 43, stated he isn’t a politician, however a public servant who’s “very accessible to, and clear with, the folks” he represents.

“I imagine in a smaller, much less bureaucratic state authorities, one that’s tailor-made to satisfy the wants of the folks with out being overbearing or overburdensome,” Cooper stated. ” I’ve an open ear and can gladly go to with anybody and can overtly contemplate their concepts and tackle their issues. I’ve and can proceed to work throughout the aisle to offer wonderful illustration to all constituents.”

[RELATED: Full coverage of elections in Arkansas » arkansasonline.com/elections/]

Govens – who has been married to his spouse, Stacy, for 16 years and has 4-year-old twins, a boy and lady — was born in Mainz, Germany, “the product of an Military dad,” he stated. He moved to Arkansas from Alabama three years in the past, when Earthlink was acquired by Windstream. He is now an operations supervisor for Swyft Join, a Tennessee web firm.

He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom as a communications specialist for the Military, organising distant entry items.

Cooper — who has been married to his spouse, Melissa, for 14 years and has two daughters, 8 and 13 — is a seventh-generation Arkansan who was born in Searcy and has lived in Romance his whole life. He’s a residential supervisor for Pathfinder Inc., the place he has labored for the previous 19 years. He’s additionally a farm proprietor.

Earlier than being elected almost two years in the past to his first time period within the Home, Cooper served as a justice of the peace on the White County Quorum Court docket for 14 years. His earlier political expertise was “nice preparation” for a brand new state legislator, he stated.

“I already understood and had taken half within the legislative course of on the county degree. I understood the committee course of, had expertise working with fellow elected officers, and was capable of hit the bottom working on Day 1,” Cooper stated. “My 19 years of service working with people with developmental disabilities has taught me to be an advocate and a voice for the wants and rights of people who usually have issue talking out and standing up for themselves.”

Home District 44 serves parts of White, Lonoke and Faulkner counties.


The candidates each oppose Subject 1, a proposed constitutional modification on Tuesday’s normal poll that might make everlasting the non permanent 0.5% gross sales tax to offer funding for highways and roads.

“I’ve severe issues with passing a everlasting gross sales tax and making it a part of our state structure,” Cooper stated. “There are different avenues accessible to fund roads, and the Legislature must go to the desk with the Division of Transportation and the manager department to discover these choices, as a substitute of burdening the folks of Arkansas with a everlasting tax enhance.”

Cooper stated discussions ought to embody methods to offer help to counties and cities with funding for his or her streets and roads.

“A everlasting tax enhance right now is just not helpful to the folks, particularly as we proceed to deal with the issues which were induced on account of covid-19 within the months forward,” Cooper stated.

Govens stated Subject 1 is a “laborious no” for him.

“We pay sufficient in taxes. What we want is management that may stress the administration and price range into reappropriating what we have already got,” he stated. “What we have to do is to make sure we shut tax loopholes in order that the wealthiest Arkansans aren’t paying much less in taxes than our working-class and poor residents. Reappropriate with out mountain climbing taxes.”


Govens stated the abortion matter may be “difficult,” so he tries to remain out of the dialogue as a result of “as a person,” he would not really feel like he has “a lot of an argument to deliver to the desk.”

“Abortion is a tricky topic, and if authorized students and biblical students can not agree, I doubt that I am going to deliver a lot worth. My issues round abortion bans is, a CASA volunteer, I work circumstances of all natures,” Govens stated.

A Court docket Appointed Particular Advocate volunteer advocates for foster youngsters within the courtroom and different settings.

“I could need to work a case, as my colleagues do typically, involving incest. A 13-year-old little one being raped by her father after which turning into pregnant is just not a hypothetical; it is a actual scenario that occurs extra usually than folks know,” Govens stated. “In that case, will we pressure a teenage little one to have a child introduced by incest? What in regards to the sexual assault victims that need to cope with the bodily and psychological trauma that uncover they’re pregnant after 14 weeks? Will we have a look at somebody’s daughter who was violated and inform her that she should give delivery to her assaulter’s little one?”

Cooper, a Republican, is “proudly pro-life,” he stated.

“I disagree with the Roe v. Wade resolution,” he stated, citing the 1973 landmark U.S. Supreme Court docket ruling on abortion rights.


Cooper helps college alternative initiatives like constitution colleges, voucher applications and partial vouchers resembling Arkansas’ Succeed Scholarship Program.

“Schooling needs to be targeted on the wants of the person scholar. For some college students, which may be public college; for some, which may be a constitution college; for others, it could be dwelling college or non-public college,” Cooper stated. “Households needs to be empowered to direct the training of their youngsters by selecting the very best instructional surroundings accessible.”

Govens stated he appears to be like in school alternative as an “indictment on the complete public training system.”

As a dad or mum, Govens stated, he mustn’t have to fret about which college his little one attends as every college “needs to be match with the identical, plentiful assets.”

“Pine Bluff Excessive Faculty has notoriously lagged behind different colleges whereas Cabot Excessive Faculty has thrived,” Govens stated. “We needs to be focusing efforts to deliver Pine Bluff Excessive Faculty as much as the identical degree as Cabot, not specializing in permitting dad and mom to desert Pine Bluff Excessive Faculty and take their youngsters elsewhere.”


Govens stated the coronavirus pandemic has offered a problem with “outcomes that I by no means believed might occur right here.” He understands the financial affect the virus has wreaked and the “robust scenario” it brings, however “we’ve got to comply with the science,” he stated.

“Whereas the scientific neighborhood could disagree at instances concerning the virus and its therapies, we will all agree that sneezing and coughing on folks will unfold it,” Govens stated. “Masks assist cease that, so I am in favor of sporting masks as a lot as attainable throughout this pandemic.”

Cooper stated methods to proceed ahead that aren’t detrimental to folks’s jobs, livelihoods, and psychological and bodily well being must be developed.

“We individually ought to comply with common precautions to cut back the unfold of an infection. Nonetheless, I don’t assist state authorities mandating the sporting of masks,” he stated. “I encourage folks to make use of masks in the event that they select to take action, however it needs to be by their particular person alternative. Nonetheless, non-public companies do have the correct to require masks for anybody getting into their premises, as that’s their proper to regulate their property as they see match.”


When he was 11, Govens was positioned within the foster care system two days earlier than Christmas and remained there till his late teenagers. That have led to his dedication to and keenness for the foster care system and “the way to repair it.”

“With the deficit of foster properties, the Division of Human Companies has adjusted to opening protecting providers circumstances for conditions that might usually deem a baby be eliminated. We’re leaving youngsters in unsafe environments and asking a case supervisor to watch the scenario and educate the dad and mom a unique strategy,” Govens stated. ” What number of abuse circumstances proceed with the kid caught in that dwelling? We now have to do higher. We will do higher.”

Premium training alternatives for youngsters and adults, alternatives for small companies to flourish in native communities, and entry to good web and medical providers are points Cooper stated are priorities for him.

“Let’s assist our senior residents, veterans, firefighters, police and first responders,” Cooper stated. “We should defend each particular person’s proper to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Let’s work collectively and get the neighborhood concerned so we will make sure that Arkansas stays the Land of Alternative.”

Cameron Cooper (Particular to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

Rodney Govens (Particular to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

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