It seems a little early to be talking about council elections, but we recently discovered a Facebook page created by local resident Sarah Marsh who plans to become a candidate for Ward 1, Position 2 on the Fayetteville City Council.
The seat is currently held by three-term (that’s 12 years) alderwoman Brenda Boudreaux, who recently told us she does not intend to seek re-election in November.
We sent Marsh a few questions and a profile/photo request and she was kind enough to reply.
So far, we’ve not heard of anyone besides Marsh that plans to seek this or any other council seat. If you or someone you know plans to seek election, let us know and we’ll send them some questions, too.
Name: Sarah Marsh
Residency: I grew up in the Washington-Willow Historic District and lived in Ward 2 until 2002 when I moved to Seattle to advance my career. After eight years in the Pacific Northwest, I moved back to Fayetteville and into Ward 1 in September of 2010.
Employment: At the end of 2011, I resigned from my position as a Sustainability Consultant & Senior Project Manager at Viridian, a Little Rock based high performance building consulting firm to build my own business, Tanglewood Design & Consulting. I combine my experience in Architecture, Sustainability, and Policy to help project teams, businesses, and organizations chart the best route to meet their sustainability goals. I balance the technical work by doing select residential design projects and style consultation. Right now my primary project is working with the UofA Office of Campus Planning on their campus-wide LEED certification efforts.
Education: I have a professional degree of Architecture from the University of Arkansas and am a LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional) with a specialization in Building Design & Construction. I studied Fashion Design at The New York Fashion Academy and am a graduate of Fayetteville High School.
Political Experience: I ran for U.S. Congress in 3rd District in 2001 and served as Chairperson for the Green Party of Washington County in 2002-2003. During that time I worked through the Citizen’s First Congress to pass a Voter Reform Package to expand polling hours and absentee voting.
Currently I’m serving as Facilitator for the Fayetteville Forward Green Economy Group, am on the Mayor’s Commercial Building Code Task Force, and am a Mentor at Fayetteville High School under the US Green Building Council’s Green Schools Challenge Program.
What made you decide to seek election to the council? Is it something you’ve been considering for a while?
My primary interests are Urban Planning, Policy, Architecture, and the environment. I see serving on the Council as a great opportunity to do what I love while improving my community.
When I had decided I was ready to move away from Seattle but didn’t know where to go, I spent a lot of time investigating mid-size towns all over the country. As a result, when I came back to Fayetteville to visit my family I saw it with new eyes. I was stunned by the beauty of the landscape, the rich architectural heritage, the wonderful library, and the awesome new bike trail. I was also struck by the lack of adequate public transportation, the disparity between wages and the cost of living, and the need for safe and energy-efficient housing. I finally decided that there was no perfect place to move but that I would choose a place with a few things I love and then work hard to fix the things in need of change. I love Fayetteville and I would be honored to serve on the City Council to help lead the charge to keep moving Fayetteville forward.
Wards 2 and 4 seem to get a lot of attention for being so close to the entertainment district and the U of A. Is there anything in particular that drove you to reside in Ward 1? How would you describe that part of town?
I chose to live in Ward 1 because of its affordability and its close proximity to downtown. I like the older housing stock and some of the more innovative new development. Ward 1 has the best affordable eateries, the winter market, and the most ethnic diversity. What I would like to see happen is to connect all of the amenities in Ward 1 with a mix of sidewalks, trails, and transit. People need safe routes to walk or ride their bike to school, to parks, and to the grocery store. I would like to make the industrial area, the technology park, and the airport more attractive to outside investment and more accessible to their workforce by connecting them with transit to downtown, the university, and neighborhoods.
We must protect our historic neighborhoods while promoting responsible new development. Unfortunately, Ward 1 suffers from irresponsible development and inadequate stormwater infrastructure along MLK avenue. As a result, many homes in the Town Branch neighborhood are in imminent danger of flooding. In addition to holding developers to high standards, we need to immediately implement storm water best management practices upstream to slow the water down and promote infiltration. This is a great opportunity to construct raingardens and use them to beautify our neighborhoods while reducing the burden on our storm water infrastructure.
As the leader of the Fayetteville Forward Green Economy Group, we assume sustainability will be a top priority for you if elected. Care to elaborate?
My top priority is to create jobs and opportunities in our community. It’s important for the long-term health of our community if that economic activity doesn’t generate a lot of waste, pollute our environment, or deplete our natural resources. These jobs should also pay a living wage and provide good benefits. We all benefit when our friends and neighbors are feeling economically secure, are able to save for retirement, and have access to good health care. We can start by plugging the economic and resource leaks in order to keep our dollars circulating within our local economy and retain our human capitol.
For example, the average spending for residential energy consumption in Fayetteville is approximately $24 million dollars per year. That’s $24 million dollars that is leaving our local economy in the hands of utility giants. If we can create jobs weatherizing existing homes, building new homes that are more efficient, and installing newer mechanical systems and residential renewable energy systems, then we can keep a significant portion of that wealth in our local economy, create desirable jobs to help retain graduates of our University, and live in more comfortable and safe housing stock.
I want all of Fayetteville’s citizens to enjoy a high quality of life. To achieve that, we must balance the interests of people, prosperity, and the planet.