Springdale selects temporary city council member; some hope for more diversity in leadership

KNWA

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Springdale’s city council selected a familiar face to temporarily serve Ward 1 until November. Eight candidates applied for the position, and some hoped the diverse city would select a minority candidate.

“We feel it’s important at this time to lift up the missed opportunity that was before the city council,” said Mireya Reith, executive director for Springdale-based Arkansas United.

More work needs to be done to get minority communities the information they need around election time, Reith said, as no Hispanic candidate has ever won a position on city council, even though that population makes up 36% of the city.

“We firmly believe that if we’re gonna fulfill that potential, that really means broadening the space at the table for the decision-making,” Reith said.

In this instance, the city council made the decision after the previous Ward 1 member resigned after moving out of the district. The seat was temporarily open, and eight residents applied. The group ultimately chose Jim Reed, who served for 12 years before previously retiring.

“Jim Reed is a former council member,” said Mayor Doug Sprouse. “He has offered to come out of retirement.”

Sprouse said Reed won’t seek reelection in November, which was appealing to city council.

“It would be better to appoint someone who has no intentions of running in November,” Sprouse said. “If they’d have appointed one of the other candidates, that candidate obviously would’ve had a leg up and an advantage.”

The council’s temporary decision was more about giving the other applicants a fair chance when November rolls around, Sprouse said, including two minority candidates who applied.

“We’ve got a lot of great candidates from a lot of different walks of life, different life experiences,” Sprouse said. “I think everyone was really impressed.”

There are issues minority communities face that would be a bigger focus if they were represented on the council, Reith said.

“We really do need diverse lenses at the table to jumpstart the economy again,” Reith said. “[That’s] what everyone wants.”

Reith said she’ll be among the group pushing people to get out and vote when the time comes.

“We think that the best way we can show our love for Springdale, show our love for Arkansas, is by continuing to lift up this conversation,” Reith said.

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