This interview is part of a series of posts designed help us all learn a little bit about who’s running for city council in Fayetteville on November 2.
We sent two rounds of questions to all of the candidates and we’ll post one interview each weekday in the order that we received them beginning with Round 1.
Keep in mind that you’ll only be able to vote for the candidates who are running in your ward and that only two wards (Ward 2 and Ward 4) have contested seats.
In Ward 1, nobody filed to run against Adella Gray. In Ward 3, only Justin Tennant filed for the open seat.
For a ward map and more information on all the candidates, visit our 2010 City Council Election page.
Mark Kinion – Ward 2, Position 1
Fayetteville Flyer: If you make it to the council, you’ll be forced to take sides on incredibly controversial issues. You’ll also have to make important decisions that have direct impacts on certain individuals or groups. Are you ready for that kind of pressure?
Mark Kinion: Yes. I have a great deal of community service experience and I know well that some issues can be divisive. Being in a Senior Executive management job with an International Fortune 500 Corporation, I am fortunate to have received excellent training including Bay International Negotiation Certification. One of the most heartbreaking experiences I had as a young professional was holding a leadership position with a Community Service Board where disagreements cost me the precious friendship of three individuals that I heartily respect. I talked to my dear friend and mentor Betty Leighton about this situation. Ms. Leighton had years of experience in community service to Fayetteville and she gave me sound advice that I use in these situations. She said that the best a community volunteer could do is to stand steadfast in one’s basic values, treat arguments fairly, treat people compassionately with respect and do not take any policy disagreement away from the boardroom and into your home. She also encouraged a good dose of humor and not being afraid to re-evaluate without stubborn insolence.
FF: We’ve come to learn that the city council meeting agendas are far more in depth than what is handed out to the audience. It’s not uncommon for a full agenda to include over 300 pages. Will you have time to absorb that much information twice each month?
MK: The residents of Ward 2 deserve my commitment to seriously prepare for City Council action by reviewing and understanding all the information provided by the city staff, the committees, citizens and additional resources in an effort to make sound decisions. I am fully prepared to take this responsibility seriously. No amount of printed literature can replace direct experience. If you review my record of public service, you will find I have been dedicated to sound preparation, education and thorough research in order to be prepared.
FF: The paid parking issue is almost 12 months old. Why do you think those in opposition waited until the program was implemented to formally voice their opinions? Did they have to see it to believe it or did the city (or media) not do enough to inform us of what was coming?
MK: When a business experiences a drop in revenue of course it gets the business owner’s attention! I do think there was adequate planning for the parking program implementation and certainly a lot of discussion in preparation. One can never predict all the outcomes of such a major change. I live only one block away from the new paid parking area and have watched as day parkers have migrated into the Wilson Park neighborhood which has made it incredibly tough for our residents with no off street parking to find convenient parking. All along, I felt this project was too much too suddenly. I myself experienced a little pay parking anxiety and confusion the first time I had to use the new pay system. I’m over my initial anxiety and hope that as the dust settles others will come to terms with the system. I am glad the City Council took the business owners seriously and implemented an emergency compromise to help with the initial problems associated with the parking situation. Will his compromise be enough? Only time will tell.
All of us in the area hope to see a parking deck to help with parking convenience at some point in the future. Regardless, we now have to generate revenue to cover the debt associated with the program as it stands. This is stinkin’ reality.
As a community, we can help get over this hurdle by participating in programs such as the 90% discount for employees in the district, vouchers for patrons, kind tips and friendly education to patrons to help them with the changes and other measures such as helping direct patrons to free parking still convenient to the Dickson Street venues.
Why a parking deck? Good, safe, affordable parking actually will drive consumers to an area. Additionally, if we are to take the City’s 2025 Plan and Downtown Master Plan seriously, we are hoping to develop a high density area with compatible infill that can support mass transit, local business growth, and new urban ideals. Are we willing to bulldoze more historic buildings and structures in the heart of our city for expansive ground level parking? I hope we will not come to that decision. Private parking will most certainly be (and already is) more expensive than municipal parking.
FF: If the Walton Arts Center decides not to build its new facility in Fayetteville, will the world really end?
MK: Admittedly I am not well versed on the predictions of Michel de Nostredame and I have not critically studied the Mayan calendar. It is my understanding that there is coffee talk regarding concerns about the end of the world in 2012 based on aforementioned items. I doubt either of these items point to the expansion of the Walton Arts Center as pivotal in their prediction.
Seriously, regardless of the location of expanded facilities associated with the Walton Arts Center, we will always have a venue for quality arts programming and entertainment at the current location. I am very hopeful the Walton Arts Center will expand at the current location for obvious reasons. Only Dickson Street can offer a totally unique arts and entertainment experience that brings such diversity and broad energetic walkable fun. It’s the location, the people and the hometown heritage that is simply irreplaceable. “Dickson Street!” is a destination beloved and held dear to all who have played and/or lived in the Shulertown area. Most everyone I know has at least one “Dickson Street” story that is held dear and near. Some of us have been lucky enough to have seemingly infinite Dickson Street stories.
FF: We’ve seen you at city council meetings before. Is there anything the council has done in the past that you were totally against? Anything you were really proud of?
MK: I was totally against the resolution for the city to pay for the removal of the Mountain Inn and the approval of the TIF district. I do see the need for a good hotel downtown, but not at the expense of municipal tax receipts.
I am especially proud of the city for establishing a Department of Sustainability. We did this years before other cities. The savings through energy conservation as well as the receipt of grants and government program funding has made this division extraordinarily valuable with an exceptional return on investment.