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.
Justin Tennant – Ward 3, Position 1
Opponent: Mr. Tennant is running unopposed in Ward 3.
Round 1: Meet the candidates: Justin Tennant
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?
Justin Tennant: The job is not easy. You have to be ready to make decisions based on listening to all sides of an issue. The decision must be based fundamentally on what is best for the most people. Fairness, honesty and dedication are crucial components to each person who sits on the council. You asked me if I am ready for that kind of pressure. As long as I am doing what I think is best for those that I represent than I don’t see it as pressure at all. Public service is a responsibility and something essential to our way of life.
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?
JT: Actually, the information comes much more than twice a month. There are emails, phone calls and meetings that happen continually with citizens and city staff. It is a lot to absorb but it comes with the position. Our city is diverse, complex, and sometimes complicated. Those are the things that make this city great and I welcome the opportunity.
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?
JT: The parking situation is a changing issue even as we speak. The council [last week] made adjustments, and those will likely continue. The Mayor said from the beginning there would be possible changes. I believe it was difficult to foresee how the parking changes would impact the area. There was opposition from the start, and I appreciate the thoughts and ideas of the business owners in that part of the city. They live the area in their restaurants and shops and have their opinions are key to the success of the city. Dickson Street really is the heartbeat of Northwest Arkansas (not just Fayetteville) and we must keep it thriving. I support paid parking in the area and think it is best for the city’s future.
FF: If the Walton Arts Center decides not to build its new facility in Fayetteville, will the world really end?
JT: Fayetteville was here before the Walton Arts Center and it would most certainly be here if the Walton Arts Center should leave. However, there is no question that the WAC is a jewel in our city crown and we must do everything we can to keep it part of Dickson Street. I am a supporter and season ticket holder and I very much enjoy going to the arts center events and enjoying the dining and music options that surround it. It would be a loss if the center decides to move to Bentonville, but the answer to your question is the world will not really end.
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?
JT: Actually I enjoy the council meetings. It is a great way for all of us who live here to have our voices heard. There isn’t one issue that comes to mind that I was for or against, but I am very proud of our city council. We should also be proud of our various city boards and commissions. You can agree or disagree with the decisions made by all of them, but many people have given countless hours of their time doing what they think is in the best interests of our city. They are, in my opinion, working for the future of our city and for that we should say thank you.