This interview is part of an ongoing series that will help us all learn a little more about who’s running for mayor here in Fayetteville. Look for a new interview every couple of days (i.e. as soon as these folks respond). Links to these interviews will be easily accessible in the Mayoral Candidate Zone located in the sidebar over there to the right.
In order to create a repository of information rather than a battlefield for supporters, comments will be closed on these interviews.
Fayetteville Flyer: How long have you lived in Fayetteville?
Walt Eilers: Eight years. My wife Linda and I moved to Fayetteville in August of 2000.
FF: What brought you here? Was there anything specific about our city that made you say, “You know what? I’m moving to Fayetteville!” or was coming here just how your cards fell at the time?
WE: I first came to Fayetteville in 1986 to conduct a feasibility study for the Save Old Main campaign. I then worked with Cranford Johnson (now CJRW) to design the Save Old Main campaign using the research I’d gathered in the study. It was an intense time during which Linda (a Mena High School graduate) and I decided we’d eventually retire here. We assumed at the time we wouldn’t make it here until about 2018, but life happened. I had worked for a successful telecommunications firm in Mississippi through the late nineties; we were eventually bought–with stock–by WorldCom. We know how that story ended. I lost my job the same day the University of Arkansas offered Linda a position, so we were able to move here much sooner than originally anticipated, and we’ve no plans to leave. We love it here, and it’s an ideal market for my two consulting companies: Terrapin Consulting (for businesses) and Horizons Stewardship (for not-for-profits).
FF: We’ve read that as a child, you had polio and had to wear leg braces for about nine years. We’ve also read that you were able to overcome it and have been running ever since. Exactly how many marathons have you participated in?
WE: My experience with polio first led me to swimming. Swimming got me through college on a scholarship. Beginning in high school I found that polio had limited my speed. (I call myself “pace challenged.”) I had nonetheless developed endurance. Cross country led me to marathoning. I’ve now completed 33 marathons, 3 50-mile ultramarathons, and I once ran the 189 miles of the C&O Canal in 4 days. I’ve also completed 8 Ironman-length triathlons. Now that I’m 64, I’m focusing on half-marathons. I plan to run Tulsa in November and White Rock down in Dallas in December. Marathoning is terrific discipline for politics.
FF: Since your arrival, have you become a Razorback fan? If so, have you ever called the Hogs? Side note: Do you think calling the Hogs is weird? It’s OK to say yes because when you think about it, it’s certainly a little bit funny.
WE: Yes, I’m a Hog fan. Linda and I have season tickets for both football and basketball, and I’m the Clerk of Course for the track teams. Calling the Hogs is a great and distinctive tradition. Imagine if we were still the Cardinals: we wouldn’t be as distinctive. (And I don’t know what calling the Cards would sound like.) It’s also great to watch the reaction from those witnessing the hog call for the first time. It’s definitely a significant spirit energizer for the athletes.
FF: What kind of music do you enjoy? Got any favorites?
WE: I’m eclectic. It depends on my mood. I’m a huge Jerry Jeff Walker fan; have been for 25 years. We’re friends. I love classical music, and I enjoy opera and the symphony. Josh Groban, Andrea Boceilli, and Sarah Brightman are favorites. When I train, rock keeps me going: America, CCR, Foreigner, and the Grateful Dead are all on my iPod. I’m also a huge fan of Eva Cassidy, Paul Thorn, The Eagles, and the Dixie Chicks. When I’m writing a grant proposal, I listen to jazz.
FF: We’ve heard you’re a gourmet cook. Is it possible to make a gourmet hamburger or should those two words never be in the same sentence?
WE: I would say it is possible to make a gourmet hamburger, but it takes experimentation. I experiment with pretty enticing marinades, and those make all the difference in your grilling and cooking. I wouldn’t say I’m a gourmet cook. More accurately, I’m a courageous experimenter. I just love to cook and grill. I concentrate on steaks, seafood, grilled vegetables, and pasta with a variety of sauces. I also love to experiment with salads: different taste combinations and such.
FF: If the Mountain Inn was still around, would you consider hopping the fence and sneaking up to the top with us to have a look at the city at night or have you always walked the straight-n-narrow? Not that we’ve ever actually done it…err….oops. Nevermind.
WE: Marathoning has led me to many unique experiences. While you have to stay on the course for a race, I’ve learned taking detours while training can lead to great new experiences.
FF: One time at a company party, my girlfriend at the time called me out for “fake laughing” at one of my boss’ jokes…right in front of my boss. She later apologized. What is one of your most embarrassing moments?
WE: Recently, my most embarrassing moment was backing into my father-in-law Earl’s car door. I had forgotten that he was parked in the driveway and jetted out to run to the store for some supplies for a cook out. Crunch, and $1800 in damage to Earl’s Jeep door. It was pretty embarassing since we had just been talking about my driving.
FF: We got a MySpace friend request from you a few months ago. Was that really you or did your campaign manager Greg send that? It’s OK if it was Greg. We’re sure you’re a busy guy.
WE: Likely it was Greg since he’s the expert at that part of the campaign. Between my work, campaign appearances, and going door to door, I don’t have a lot of time, so my job is content; my staff handles the mechanics and keeps me up to date.
FF: Finally, starting a blog is so simple, even a caveman could do it. What do you think about small, community-based blogs? Do you see them as a benefit to local residents or do you believe that community journalists could do more harm than good?
WE: Under the Dome is one of my favorite blogs. It’s an example of how one legislator can make a significant difference to a wide range of people. That said, I believe that blogs are a significant new medium for communication and idea sharing. In Fayetteville particularly there is such a diversity of opinions that blogging is a means to learn how the broader community thinking. My only concern: an unscrupulous blogger mispresenting a statement or situation. There’s a responsibility that comes with community journalism.