AMP had the opportunity to interview Dr. Gregory Bledsoe, who is running in the Republican primary on May 24 for lieutenant governor. Bledsoe is the current Surgeon General of Arkansas. The following is an edited version of our conversation.
AMP: Why are you running for lieutenant governor?
Bledsoe: I’m not a politician. I’ve never run for office before. I’m a concerned citizen who loves Arkansas and wants to do whatever I can to help our state. I’ve been disappointed by the actions of some of our elected officials and candidates, and I believe Arkansas can do better. At the end of the day, I don’t need to run for office, but I feel strongly that if good people continue to sit on the sidelines, we will lose many of the precious things that make our country and state great. I’m running because I love this state, and I want Arkansas to win.
AMP: What do you bring to the field?
Bledsoe: I’m a physician who has spent over 20 years practicing emergency medicine all over the world. I’ve managed emergency departments and people, and I understand how to get results even when circumstances are difficult.
I grew up in Rogers, completed medical school and residency in emergency medicine at UAMS, then completed my training at Johns Hopkins with a fellowship in international emergency medicine while earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Over the course of my career, I’ve traveled to 60 countries and have worked with numerous entities including the United States Secret Service. I was the personal physician to former President Bill Clinton when he traveled to Africa in 2002, and later was on the advance team for President George W. Bush, when he visited Senegal and Uganda in 2003.
Approximately 12 years ago, I started a medical education company called ExpedMed, that is still thriving. Starting a company from scratch is the most difficult thing I have ever done, and it taught me the incredible importance of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Having individuals in government who have experience in entrepreneurship and business is invaluable — and rare.
Lastly, I recently earned my MBA from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I’ve worked with a variety of startup companies and am a strategic advisor to New Road Capital Partners in Northwest Arkansas.
All of these experiences would enable me to bring a very unique skill set to the lieutenant governor position. But honestly, the most important attribute any candidate should have is a high level of integrity and a true love for the people of Arkansas — everything else is extra.
AMP: What’s the biggest issue right now pertaining to the office you seek?
Bledsoe: The lieutenant governor position doesn’t come with a lot of formal duties, but it does come with a platform and microphone that can be used to promote Arkansas. It’s important that whoever becomes lieutenant governor be able to represent us in a way that is positive and helps us promotes the values of the people of Arkansas.
I see this as the biggest issue right now for the lieutenant governor’s office. Our state has a lot to offer, but oftentimes, we’re overlooked. It’s not right, but many people outside of our state don’t know about the incredible opportunities and resources to be found here in Arkansas.
I’m so proud of our state, and I want the opportunity to promote Arkansas around the United States and the world. I believe the best is yet to come for our state, but we need visionary leaders who are dedicated to Arkansas and who can articulate our values in a way that attracts individuals and investment to our state.
AMP: Where is your favorite travel location in Arkansas?
Bledsoe: We’re so fortunate here in Arkansas to have an abundance of great places to visit and explore. My favorite places are around Jasper and in the mountains of north Arkansas. When I have friends visit from out of state, I recommend they travel through north Arkansas to get a good view of the natural beauty of Arkansas. I’ve had friends from all over the United States comment about how amazingly beautiful our state is and how fortunate we are to live here.
AMP: What is your favorite Arkansas restaurant?
Bledsoe: My favorite place for special occasions is Arthur’s Steakhouse in Little Rock. Jerry Barakat has built a wonderful place there and has become a dear family friend. My family and I enjoy having a nice meal together at Arthur’s, and when we have friends visit from out of town, we often take them there to introduce them to some amazing steaks.
For a more casual meal, it’s a tie between David’s Burgers and Wright’s Barbecue. I tried Wright’s Barbeque in Northwest Arkansas not long ago and absolutely loved it. I’m a big barbecue fan, and I enjoyed everything I experienced at Wright’s. David’s Burgers is a family favorite and I have so much respect for owner Alan Bubbus, who has built such an amazing chain of restaurants here in Arkansas. Alan’s done such a great job. When my oldest daughter was looking for a place to work part-time as a student, I steered her towards David’s Burgers and she loves it.