Political Science major and youth faith intern Benjamin Harrison will run for the soon-to-be vacant City Council seat in Fayetteville’s Ward 3.
As a lifelong resident of Fayetteville, the 21-year-old Harrison said he owes much of who he is to the city and its people.
“Our commitment to nature, expansive trail network, state of the art library and our vibrant downtown speak to whom we are and what we value,” Harrison said. “However, the thing that makes Fayetteville truly exceptional is its people. We have a diverse inclusive community that doesn’t sit idly by when something isn’t working.”
Harrison said he decided to run for office after the passage of the city’s Uniform Civil Rights Protection ordinance last year, which he supported.
“I have learned that the community is better when everyone is represented,” said Harrison. “Everyone deserves a seat at the table.”
He was appointed to the first round of members to serve on the newly formed Civil Rights Commission, which was created as part of the voter-approved ordinance.
Harrison said he generally approves of the direction of the current City Council, but said there are ways to make Fayetteville better.
Improving the city’s existing public transportation, pedestrian, and cycling infrastructure would be a top priority. Investing in education and food security, encouraging younger folks to become involved in local government, and addressing Fayetteville’s growing ethnic and cultural diversity are also on Harrison’s list.
Ward 3 includes several neighborhoods in northeast Fayetteville, including the Huntingdon and Candlewood subdivisions. Gulley Park, Fiesta Square, Lake Fayetteville, and the Northwest Arkansas Mall are also in Ward 3.
The Position 2 seat is currently held by Martin Schoppmeyer, who did not file for re-election.
Two other residents have filed for the position – Sarah Bunch (read her announcement story) and Tracy Hoskins (we’ve reached out to Mr. Hoskins and will post his responses to our questionnaire when it is received).
There are three other Position 2 seats up for grabs on Nov. 8, including those held by Sarah Marsh (Ward 1), Matthew Petty (Ward 2) and Alan Long (Ward 4) – who are each seeking another term.
Profile: Benjamin Harrison
Position sought: Ward 3, Position 2
Residency: Lived in Fayetteville entire life
Employment: Youth intern, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Education: Political Science major transferring from NWACC to the University of Arkansas in Spring 2017
Political Experience: Civil Rights Commission member
What made you decide to seek election to the council? Is it something you’ve been considering for a while?
After the Civil Rights Ordinance passed last September, I knew I wanted to advocate for those that didn’t have a voice in the community. Through my work with the church and my family’s example, I have learned that the community is better when everyone is represented. Everyone deserves a seat at the table.
Is there anything in particular that drove you to reside in Ward 3? How would you describe that part of town?
I was drawn to my current neighborhood because of its easy access to the trails, affordability, and diversity. Many of the goals of the 2030 City Plan are already being implemented in my ward. Ward 3 has some of the best opportunities for business growth and development in Fayetteville.
Are there any recent council decisions you agree or disagree with?
I generally approve of the direction our City Council is taking in setting goals and priorities for Fayetteville. I hope to bring more support for smart development to address the housing needs of our community, especially for those people who are in the lower economic strata. The recent Lindsey development proposal for the Razorback Golf Course was a missed opportunity for infill that would have begun to address the shortage of cheaper, safe rental housing.