Ron Baucom / Staff photo
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Flyer sent a questionnaire to each candidate in the months leading up to the Nov. 8 general election, but did not receive a response from Mr. Baucom until today (Nov. 6). Baucom apologized for the delay and said he’s been taking extra care of his mother who has been gravely ill over the past few weeks. We know it’s late in the campaign season to be publishing a candidate profile, but we didn’t provide Mr. Baucom with a deadline to respond, so we’re posting his answers now.
Baucom, 59, currently works part-time at MailCo USA while caring for his 89-year-old mother.
Baucom said his Christian faith guided his decision to run for mayor, and said that he believes Fayetteville is “in serious trouble” because of poor decisions made by the current administration.
He criticized the planning of the new regional park in southwest Fayetteville, and said he believes the infrastructure will not be able to handle the kind of traffic and attendance the park will attract.
Baucom noted Jordan’s absence from a Nov. 2 event held on the University of Arkansas campus.
The event was first announced on Oct. 27 as a mayoral forum hosted by the Fayetteville High School Young Democrats and Young Republicans. Baucom and Terminella agreed to participate, but Jordan told club representatives he already had commitments and wouldn’t be able to change his plans with such short notice.
Jordan offered to send a representative, Stephen Smith, in his place. The club initially agreed to allow Smith to make opening and closing remarks, but later told Smith the other candidates were not comfortable with a representative speaking for Jordan.
Smith criticized the handling of the event in a Facebook post where he provided a timeline of his exchanges with the students.
“Needless to say, I am disappointed that I will not have the opportunity to represent Mayor Jordan in the “forum” or even be allowed to give opening and closing remarks,” Smith wrote. “It will surely be ‘fair and balanced.'”
Two hours before the event was set to begin, a club representative sent a press release to the media stating that the forum had been cancelled because all three candidates couldn’t attend.
Videos posted to Facebook later that evening showed Baucom and Terminella participating in what appeared to be a mayoral forum inside the same room where the original event was scheduled in the UA’s Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences Building. During the event, both candidates made opening statements and answered questions submitted by high school students.
A club representative later told the Flyer that the high school was not associated with the event that took place.
Baucom later accused Jordan and Smith of “bullying” the club and said they owed the students an apology.
Early voting continues through 5 p.m. at the Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville. Election Day polls open at 7:30 a.m. on Nov. 8 at over 40 locations in Washington County.
Profile: Ron Baucom
Position sought: Mayor
Residency: Lived in Fayetteville entire life
Employment: Former Walmart employee
Education: B.A. Business Administration (double majors in Accounting and Finance), University of Arkansas
Political Experience: None
What made you decide to run for mayor? Is it something you’ve been considering for a while?
I was born and raised in south Fayetteville. I have seen what previous politicians have claimed as advancements and changes for the city. It is not a whole city approach. I want to make those changes. Most of our city has not been able to enjoy the amenities that are being promoted. Yes, I have thought about this for quite some time, and my Christian faith has guided me in this direction at this point and time in my life. I believe that our country and our city are in serious trouble, and a big part of that is due to the poor choices of our leaders.
With the region’s recent growth, what keeps you in Fayetteville? How would you describe the city today?
The growth that has been referenced is not near what it needs to be. We need to bring in businesses that will help with living wages and employment. Our median household income in Fayetteville is $37,350. That is below the state averages of a little over $41,000 and the national averages of over $54,000. Our state is only ranked 49th out of 50 and we are still below the state average. 25.2 percent of the population for whom poverty status is determined in Fayetteville live below the poverty line, which is higher than the national average of 15.5 percent. Over 13 percent of our citizens live on a household income of less than $10,000 per year and that figure is probably much higher because we don’t have an accurate count of our very large and growing homeless community. I have not seen the changes that are constantly being promoted and marketed. The folks that are bragging about our prosperity are the ones that are at top of the hill. I want to see a whole city improvement.
Are there any recent city administrative decisions you agree or disagree with? If so, please explain.
Our new regional park was very poorly planned. There is only one lane in and out. There is a serious problem with getting emergency personnel in and out to treat injured children or adults. The administration’s answer to this is that it will be addressed in future phases. The water tables were not properly studied and a lot of the fields are on a flood plain. Numerous soccer games were cancelled while they were still held at the Lewis facilities. The soccer fields are too small. There are parking and bathroom facility issues. They want to hold regional and national events there but as evidenced by Bikes and Blues, we have a lack of enough lodging in Fayetteville and lose a lot of tax revenues because they have to go to other cities to stay.
Our present leaders have created large tax burdens on our city, that could have been prevented with proper analysis, prioritization, and resources.
Our present mayor and his designated representative Stephen Smith should publicly apologize and be held accountable for their actions last week in their treatment of the Fayetteville High School Young Democrats/ Young Republicans forum and their undue influence and bullying that encouraged the high school to cancel the event for the students less than two hours before it was to begin is inexcusable! They can bash me all they want, but to discourage our future leaders is a disgrace!! Fortunately, the College Democrats/ Republicans picked it up and the forum was still held. But of course the Fayetteville High School students were told not to attend and Mr. Jordan, of course did not attend.