To monitor business's pulse on politics, The Times will present Southland executives' and business owners' opinions about the presidential election. This is one in a series of snapshots.

Name: Lodwrick M. Cook

Company: Arco, a diversified petroleum products company

Position: Chairman and chief executive

Registration: Republican

Q: Who are you going to vote for?

A: George Bush

Q: Why?

A: The general consistency of the President's policies and his leadership in international affairs have changed our world for the better. The Bush and Reagan administrations were instrumental in ending the Cold War, and I give Mr. Bush enormous credit for that. The economic dislocations we are living through today are part of an unavoidable transition to a peacetime economy. The President has the skill and temperament to handle this transition. Also, the new political stability in the Middle East resulting from the President's leadership has kept a lid on oil prices, which has had a positive effect everywhere. Our low rate of inflation and low interest rates, combined with the President's belief in holding the line on tax increases, have all been positive factors for business.

Q: What are the main issues for your business?

A: A healthy economy is key to everything. The retail sector will continue to stagnate until people feel confident about their jobs and the future. Also critical is a trade policy that encourages the free flow of goods and services across borders. From an energy producer's standpoint, I want to see greater importance attached to domestic energy production. Energy conservation is important, but restrictive federal and state policies that close off huge areas to oil and gas development are a big reason why energy investment capital is fleeing overseas. Over 440,000 jobs have been lost in the U.S. petroleum industry over the past decade--far more than in the auto industry--yet few people seem to care.

Q: What needs to be done to right the economy?

A: Many steps are needed. We must reduce the federal deficit--and do so dramatically; we must curtail excessive government regulation and lower the cost of doing business, especially in California; we must eliminate trade barriers and increase exports; through tax incentives and other policies, we must encourage private sector investment in the inner city and elsewhere, creating jobs and hope.

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