Friday, October 17, 2008

Mayoral candidates debate at the University of Arkansas, according to student-run newspaper

Mayoral race visits UA campus
By: James Baker
Posted: 10/17/08
The mayoral forum Wednesday in the Arkansas Union showed universal agreement among the four candidates present on the necessity for student involvement in the local community and environmental development.
However, tensions between candidate Lionel Jordan and incumbent Dan Coody continued to simmer.
With candidates Steve Clark and Walt Eilers wedged between them, Jordan and Coody sparred over Jordan's proposal to bring town hall meetings to Fayetteville to let students and residents become involved in city governance.
Students "are just as much a part of this town as anyone else," Jordan said. "People want to be informed and are tired of surprises."
Jordan also referred to the city's wastewater treatment project that ran $60 million over budget and was completed three years later than previously scheduled.
"Who wants to go to a meeting where nothing gets accomplished?" Coody said.
Coody, running for a third term, responded to Jordan's reference to the surprise of an extra $60 million spent on the treatment center project by mentioning Jordan's position on the city water and sewer committee, to which Jordan replied, "The buck stops with you."
Coody countered by saying the "buck stops with all of us in leadership positions."
All candidates emphasized the importance of the relationship between the city and UA students, both civically and economically, in the Associated Student Government-sponsored forum.
"We're not homogenized," Steve Clark said. "We all don't think alike, and that's a good thing."
Clark, a distinguished alumnus of the UA School of Law, said several short-term solutions should be implemented in the next term of office while others are planned out, including the addition of broadband to the city and covers for the multiple bus stop benches that currently lay bare.
"We can do that now," he said.
Clark also said that lack of preparation is responsible for the city not taking full advantage of its economic opportunities, and the next mayor needs to either "take action, or get out of the way."
Students "are the largest economic consumers in town," said Eilers, who supports putting a student representative into City Council and also mentioned the case for broadband throughout the city, including buses.
When asked what qualified him for the position, Eilers joked, "When you've been in business 42 years ... I've earned my white hair."
Eilers encouraged students to get out into the local community and volunteer, and he also said the "city of Fayetteville needs to care about the UA."
Coody emphasized the importance of bettering the town for the future, as many students "will want to come back and raise their families" in Fayetteville.
Jordan, who has worked in UA Facilities Management for 26 years, said communication between city government and small businesses must be "one on one, face to face."
Candidate and UA student Sami Sutton was unable to participate in the debate because she didn't hear about it until it was too late, and candidate Adam Fire Cat didn't show up.
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