UPDATED: Adam Fire Cat runs for City Council in Fayetteville’s Ward 2

Update: A few weeks after this story was published Cat withdrew his candidacy because he no longer lives in Ward 2.

Longtime local busser and perennial political candidate Adam Fire Cat is back for his third attempt at winning a seat on the Fayetteville City Council.

Cat, 41, ran unsuccessful campaigns for alderman in 2012 and 2010. He also ran for mayor in 2008. This year he’ll face incumbent Alderman Matthew Petty and a third candidate, Gary McHenry, for the Ward 2, Position 2 seat.

Less legislation, less regulation, and a careful watch over city spending were top priorities in his last two campaigns. Cat said those same tenets are what keep him coming back.

Adam Fire Cat / Courtesy photo

“I am one to limit the amount of ordinances that criminalize the asinine, and to maintain watch over the city budget with the strictest of eyes,” said Cat. “Call it the libertarian in me.”

Cat said he was prompted to run for election in 2010 after Petty co-sponsored an ordinance that would’ve banned smoking in all Fayetteville bars. This time around, Cat said it was the original civil rights ordinance that got under his skin.

“When (the ordinance) was introduced, the idea behind it was a noble thing,” Cat said. But, he added, “there was an attitude that suggested that this ordinance was so special that it should be immune from any sort of legal counsel.”

Cat called the language in the original ordinance “awful” and pointed to the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce’s opposition to the measure. In their fight against the proposal, chamber board members said they felt the ordinance was written poorly and was too vague in its definition of what is prohibited.

“Instead of listening to the legitimacy of their objections, the City Council moved to pass it anyway with the opinion that they’d fix any problems in the language…later…eventually,” Cat said. “When people in office do that, there is where my contention lies.”

Cat praised the second draft of the ordinance, which was passed by voters last fall, but said a price was paid by residents who became divided and who footed the bill for two special elections.

Ward 2, which is typically associated with the downtown and Dickson Street areas, includes portions of the University of Arkansas campus and stretches west past Garland Avenue to Asbell Elementary School, and north to the Washington County Fairgrounds. The ward also includes the businesses along College Avenue in midtown, and many historic districts including Wilson Park.

There are three other Position 2 seats up for grabs this year, including those held by Sarah Marsh (Ward 1), Martin Schoppmeyer (Ward 3) and Alan Long (Ward 4). Schoppmeyer did not file for re-election, but Marsh and Long are each seeking a second term.

The general election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 8.


Profile: Adam Fire Cat

Position sought: Ward 2, Position 2
Age: 41
Residency: 24-year resident of Fayetteville
Employment: Host and Busser, Village Inn restaurant
Education: Former University of Arkansas student majoring in law
Political Experience: Former candidate for Ward 2 alderman in 2012 and 2010; and mayor in 2008

Questions

This will be your third municipal bid since 2008. What is it about city government that keeps you coming back?
Well, each effort usually holds its own reasons for being. Still, I continue under the ideology that if one disagrees with a system, for whatever the reason, the best place to enact change is from within. I am one to limit the amount of ordinances that criminalize the asinine, and to maintain watch over the city budget with the strictest of eyes. Call it the libertarian in me.

You’ve lived in Ward 2 for a long time. How has that part of town changed (if at all) since you first moved in?
It’s only changed in as much as any growing city would. Houses and apartment complexes are erected, shops open and close, buildings are torn down or remodeled…it meets the expectations of its evolution. But such is the nature of change that we only seem to take notice when something changes against our wishes. When Common Grounds closed down, I have to admit that it was like losing an old friend. ‘Twas my place of asylum. To some it may have been considered a hole in the wall coffee shop, but damn it, it was my hole in the wall coffee shop. I’ll miss it always.

Are there any recent council decisions you agree or disagree with? If so, which one(s)?
While I am known to actively oppose aesthetic ordinances given personal experiences with their negatives effects, I believe that when any ordinance is created for consideration that it must be treated mindfully rather than emotionally. Thus I am concerned with the method of which an ordinance is approved, and it with this in mind that I speak of the recent civil rights ordinance. When this was introduced, the idea behind it was a noble thing. For the most part, it is a rare bird that anyone will have an up-in-arms attitude over hiring, firing, and treatment of employees due to sexual ideologies of the employer. Still, we cover our bases for the sake of compassion toward mankind. And this is where my agreement of the ordinance ends and my issue over method begins. Upon its writing, there was an attitude that suggested that this ordinance was so special that it should be immune from any sort of legal counsel and the eye of the Ordinance Review Committee in tandem. When people in office do that, there is where my contention lies. The first language on that legislation to pass was awful in such a way that bared notice by the Chamber of Commerce. Instead of listening to the legitimacy of their objections, the City Council moved to pass it anyway with the opinion that they’d fix any problems in the language… later… eventually. Unlike a Snickers, this did not satisfy. The Chamber of Commerce then moves to referendum, and accumulates the signatures in no short time. A special vote and a great deal of angry humans later, the ordinance is overturned. The most divisive thing this city experienced since the smoking ordinance was an ordinance created to prevent divisiveness. And the worst thing about it is that the City Council had the nerve to act surprised. The Chamber of Commerce was then told that since they spearheaded the referendum that they should rewrite it, as if it was their responsibility in the first place. And yet… they did just that. Putting together a crew of attorneys, religious ethicists, and business driven individuals, the new ordinance was created that we all know and most of us love today. Another special vote is put forth, because an altered version of a previous ordinance that was subject to referendum must still go before the people (save special circumstances), and so we pay tax money for this process twice. With the backing of the Chamber of Commerce, it passes well. I would later apply for (though was not appointed to) the Position at Large seat on the Civil Rights Commission. I did so under the opinion that any judgments made by this commission would be under a great scrutiny from the community, and that a strictly empirical standpoint should be the way to execute any final decisions in these matters. I believe we lost a lot of face on a state level as well as with one another, and all of this could have been avoided if the City Council had only took time to approach the concerns of legal language. They judged with their feelings rather than their minds, and we paid the price. It’s about method.

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