Voters in south Fayetteville will decide between two very different candidates as they head to the polls today for the Ward 1 City Council runoff election.
Phaneuf took 39 percent of the votes (1,759) in the Nov. 4 general election, followed by Gray‘s 37 percent (1,661) and Sonia Davis Gutierrez’ 25 percent (1,110).
In Arkansas, a candidate must win a 50 percent majority of the votes or receive more than 40 percent and be ahead of the runner-up by 20 percent to avoid a runoff.
The polls are scheduled to be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Polling site information is available at www.voterview.org.
Gray is a retired school counselor and a 41-year resident of Fayetteville. She holds a master of education degree from the University of Arkansas and a bachelor of arts degree in music education from Georgetown College.
She is a member of the City Council’s Nominating and Transportation committees. Through her two terms, she has served as vice mayor, and as a member of the Water, Sewer & Solid Waste Committee, Audit Committee, and Equipment Committee.
During her time in office, Gray voted in support of several major infrastructure projects including a new downtown parking deck, a planned 200-acre regional park, the recently opened College Avenue flyover bridge, and the purchase of 328 acres of woodland tucked away on Mount Kessler.
Gray was also one of six council members to vote in favor of Fayetteville’s civil rights ordinance, which prohibits discrimination against someone for being gay, transgender and other characteristics. She has maintained her support for the new law throughout her general election and runoff campaigns.
Gray received $3,205 in total campaign contributions through Oct. 25. She reported 19 donations, including $500 from the Fayetteville Firefighters Association; $350 from Ward 4 Alderwoman Rhonda Adams; $250 from the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee; and $100 from former Ward 3 Alderman Bobby Ferrell.
Gray said if re-elected she’ll push for more progressive legislation, like the streamside protection ordinance and the recent creation of the state’s first energy improvement district.
Phaneuf is a self-employed consultant who attended classes at Providence College in Rhode Island. He has lived in Fayetteville for about a year.
Phaneuf is a strong believer in limited government who has authored over 50 articles for Tea Party Nation, including a controversial post called “The Life of Julia the Pathetic Loser” which drew heavy criticism on social media. He defended the article in an interview with KNWA, but a day later, Phaneuf’s name was changed to “Malcolm Swift” and his avatar was altered. The posts were eventually deleted entirely from Teapartynation.com.
As a candidate in the election, Phaneuf was one of the most outspoken opponents to the civil rights ordinance. He called the law “shameful in its shoddy construct” and said it is “a flagrant assault on individual liberty and religious freedom.”
Phaneuf raised the most money in Ward 1, thanks to the $4,000 he received from Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, the Springdale couple featured in the TV show 19 Kids and Counting. The Duggars were responsible for about two-thirds of the $6,081 Phaneuf reported in campaign contributions through Oct. 25. The Duggars have so far donated $10,000 to candidates seeking repeal of the law, and were the focus of controversy after Michelle Duggar narrated a robocall that claimed civil rights protections included in the ordinance would be “opening a door” for pedophiles and sexual predators.
Phaneuf said if elected he would work to limit the footprint of government and seek repeal of the civil rights ordinance if voters uphold the new law in a Dec. 9 special election.