SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Springdale City Council could see more diversity on its board following the November elections with several minorities running for seats.
“Now more than ever it’s important to show the younger generation the importance to vote and to know that their voices will be heard and represented,” Derek Van Voast says.
Derek Van Voast, a local business owner, is one of three minorities running for city council in November.
He’s going for Kathy Jaycox’s seat, one of two women on the council. She was first elected 22 years ago, and for 20 of those years, she was the only woman serving.
“I think I spend enough time with a wide variety of people that I hope that I can bring their perspective to the table also,” Jaycox says.
Talks of diversity and the need for representation in local government continues to grow.
“If I think back to 1994, the Hispanic community was not very big, if we would run into someone in Walmart who spoke the language we would stop them just to have a conversation,” school board member Eddie Ramos says.
Fast forward 26 years Mayor Doug Sprouse says they represent 30 to 40 percent of the community and there is also an increase of Marshallese people.
“When you consider how much we have changed really in a relatively short period of time, over 20 to 30 years, I think we have embraced that change very well not saying everything is perfect,” Mayor Sprouse says.
Eddie Ramos grew up in Springdale and is now raising his family here. He is the only Hispanic on the school board and wants to see more minorities in leadership roles.
“I think it is important for us to be represented both in the city and you know especially with the large population in Springdale,” Ramos says.
This November election could bring the very first person of color on board.
“Whether your African American, or Hispanic or a female. No matter where you come from you have a different background than you can bring and a conversation to the table and that is what can change things,” Jaycox says.
“You should practice stewardship and should feel at home in your home and do your part, and have a voice,” Van Voast says.