A CLOSER LOOK: Bentonville city council candidates

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ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — A dozen people are running for city council seats in Bentonville.

Two people are running to fill the Bentonville School Board seat, Jim Parsons and Jennifer Faddis. This seat covers parts of Bella Vista and Centerton and is a five-year term.

As of the 2010 census, the population was 35,301 and according to the American Community Survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau, the population was nearly 47,000. The only other city in Northwest Arkansas with a higher population is Rogers with nearly 65,000.

Click here for more Arkansas Demographics Data

The election is on November 3.

CITY COUNCIL WARD 1, POSITION 1

CITY COUNCIL WARD 1, POSITION 2

CITY COUNCIL WARD 2, POSITION 1

CITY COUNCIL WARD 3, POSITION 2

SCHOOL BOARD, ZONE 1

KNWA/FOX24 asked the council candidates three generic questions

  • In Arkansas, what do you believe is a situation that needs to be dealt with, for example, airport, water system, environment, community safety?
  • Overall, what can Arkansas do to improve its economy?
  • Black Lives Matter, what does this US-based international movement mean in Arkansas, in your opinion?

RESPONSES

Jeremy Wiginton

Jeremy Wiginton: For Bentonville residents, infrastructure is a major issue that the State of Arkansas needs to engage more heavily in across NWA.  Residents of NWA make up a larger share of the tax base that funds roads across the state and those funds are equally distributed across the state causing a form of double taxation in the NWA area.  To support the growing tax base in NWA, the state needs to turn back a larger portion of those funds to NWA to support the infrastructure needs in one of the fastest-growing areas in America.

We live in a state where residents are taxed enough already!  According to wallethub.com, Arkansas ranks 19th in highest overall taxed states in the US with mostly blue states making up the other top 18 spots.  Arkansas needs to reduce the state sales tax on food to 0% and find ways to reduce the overall state income tax in order to support a healthy, growing Arkansas and NWA.

One of the blessings of living in Bentonville is the warm and welcoming culture of our community. We have a police department and city administrators that treat all residents with respect, no matter if they are long-term Bentonville residents, from Arkansas and other states, or from other countries.  I empathize with families that have faced injustice at the hands of authorities in other parts of the country and pray that they receive swift justice and that a positive change occurs in the culture of those cities.  The BLM movement should be a reminder to us all that, in this country, you are innocent until proven guilty and that all Americans should vigorously demand justice for anyone whose rights are infringed upon.

Jeremy Wiginton, Ward 1, Position 1
Dylan Shaddox

Dylan Shaddox: The roads can be improved. That being said, Issue 1 in Arkansas, I have a concern with because it’s a tax we are being asked to approve that was promised to be sunset years ago. We need to find a better way to allocate funds to have adequate roads in the state, Bentonville is doing a good job prioritizing their roads.

In Bentonville and throughout Arkansas, we need to keep encouraging residents to shop at local businesses. We also need to keep in constant communication with our businesses to ensure they are welcome to do business here. This also goes hand in hand with the roads but have the right infrastructure!

Black Lives Matter has definitely showed in Arkansas in recent months. I’m glad that people can peacefully protest here in the state and stand up to racial injustice. In Bentonville, they can work with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion group that the City of Bentonville has created then hold sessions where everyone can learn where BLM is coming from.

Dylan Shaddox, Ward 1, Position 2

Philip Riley: In Northwest Arkansas, we have a problem with traffic.  We have seen the profound growth of our Interstate Highway system in the area but our city infrastructure is well-behind our growth.  I will help appoint a planning commission in conjunction with surrounding communities, local businesses, and state and federal elected leaders to address these needs.  An affordable, environmentally friendly public transit system for the entire NWA corridor would be great!  A close second is our limited landfill capacity in relationship to our profound population growth.  A more robust community recycling plan needs attention.

The biggest problem that I see in Northwest Arkansas is not retaining the brain trust we develop in our local public schools and universities.  The young people who graduate need to know that we can support their startups and technical jobs such that they don’t have to move away to make a living.  That requires our business communities to stay in constant touch with our schools to help develop the minds we will need 5, 10, and 20 years down the road.  Those private-public partnerships can also be leveraged to develop an infrastructure for new business through research and development.  I am a local cardiologist so I immediately think of biomedical sciences and post-graduate medical training via a physical medical school campus here in Bentonville.  There is no reason we cannot become a destination for biomedical sciences or anything else our community needs.

BLM has increased the awareness of racial disparities in communities across the country.  There was an unsuccessful push several years ago to remove the confederate monument in the Bentonville town square.  It was finally removed this year.  The relationship to the BLM movement is not coincidental, but also was not directly planned.  When a critical mass of citizens in our community obtained a better understanding of how people of color felt about the monument, it came right down.  We must be forward-thinking and conscious of the growing diversity in our community.  We must honor the value of the growing diversity in our community as we protect and serve all of our citizens.  We can all better understand each other if we continue listening to and being mindful of one another.

Philip Riley, Ward 2, Position 1
Cindy Acree

Cindy Acree:  Our trees need protection.  We need a Tree canopy ordinance that provides numerous health benefits and emotional implications.  We also must address the cost of replacing a failing sewer system.

Support small business, create a more aggressive economic development strategy within the city to recruit a variety of small businesses to create an integrated retail and consumer market for all types of needs and income levels. We also need to develop economic pockets throughout our city that integrates single-family neighborhood and multi-family and retail while protecting and preserving single-family neighborhoods.  Then we must link them with public transit.

There are two separate issues; one anti-discrimination which should include all races, ages, and disabilities and the other is An effort to target law enforcement.  There are many problems with our criminal justice system no matter what color you are.  Police abuse is not one of them here.  We have never had a death in police custody.  I support our public safety departments.

Cindy Acree, Ward 2, Position 1, candidate

Kesha Chiappinelli

Kesha Chiappinelli: In Bentonville, there is the issue of population growth. NWA is expected to have a population of 1 million people by 2045. I’ve lived in places like New York, Northern California, Montana, and Puerto Rico. I’m for growth but strategic growth. We have to strike a balance between density and preserving character, especially in downtown Bentonville. 

Take a close look at the level of taxation we are subject to. We need to incentivize businesses and everyday people to live here.

The ideas and principles the organization is founded on are on the BLM website. I believe that what’s happening in the streets is not always aligned with those stated goals and therefore it means something different to different people. I’m an attorney and my viewpoint is shaped by that.

I think what you may be asking or what people want to know is if I’m in favor of “defunding” the police and I’m not.  I am in favor of accountability in all levels of government as evidenced by the kinds of lawsuits I’ve filed. Everyone should understand how qualified immunity works. If there were more transparency and accountability a lot of our social dilemmas would be solved. 

Kesha Chiappinelli, Ward 3, Position 2 Candidate

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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