Photo: Diana Danforth
An environmental consultant who is active on two Fayetteville commissions plans to run for City Council this year.
Teresa Turk, 57, hopes to occupy the Ward 4, Position 1 seat currently held by John La Tour, who has said he will seek a second term in the November general election.
Born in New Orleans, Turk grew up in Little Rock and Texarkana before attending the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where she played tennis for the Razorbacks her freshman year and earned a bachelor of science in zoology and a master of arts in anthropology.
Turk said she developed a love of nature while in college after discovering the Buffalo National River. She moved to Alaska in 1988 to work as a biologist aboard Russian ships in the Bering Sea, and returned to school to earn a master of science degree in fisheries science from the University of Washington.
For the next 25 years she worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle and Washington, D.C. She returned to Fayetteville in 2012, and owns a consulting company that works primarily for the NOAA.
Meet the Candidates
The following candidates have responded to a request from the Fayetteville Flyer for more information about their candidacy in the Nov. 6 election.
Turk said she’s worried that the Fayetteville she fell in love with could be slipping away, and that the city needs to pump the brakes a bit when it comes to development and consideration for existing neighborhoods.
“We need to grow more slowly and with more discussion on the kind of city we want in the future,” Turk said.
She said Fayetteville has an opportunity to expand upon its environmentally-friendly image by borrowing ideas from other cities, such as incentivizing citizens and businesses to use renewable resources and changing residents’ habits to reduce waste.
“I’d like to take some of those ideas and put them to work in Fayetteville,” said Turk. “Let’s don’t reinvent the wheel, let’s work together to keep Fayetteville a compassionate, welcoming and eco-friendly city.”
Turk serves on the city’s Historic District Commission and the Civil Rights Commission. She is also treasurer of the neighborhood association at University Heights, located just west of the University of Arkansas campus.
Ward 4 contains a large portion of west Fayetteville, including Razorback Stadium, Holt Middle School, Holcomb Elementary School, and the Boys & Girls Club of Fayetteville.
Filing for muncipal candidates ends at 12 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17.
Profile: Teresa Turk
Position sought: Ward 4, Position 1
Residency: Lived in Fayetteville for 14 years total, and in Ward 4 for 13 years
Employment: Self-employed environmental consultant who owns/manages several rental properties
Education: Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Master of Arts in Anthropology, University of Arkansas; Master of Science in Fisheries Science, University of Washington
What made you decide to seek election to the council? Is it something you’ve been considering for a while?
I have been considering running for City Council for the past few years. Fayetteville is growing at a phenomenal rate and without many neighborhood protections. Historic houses dating from the 1800’s and early 1900’s have been bulldozed down without any regulation to prevent that from happening and without public comment. That’s got to change. We need to preserve our heritage and pass an ordinance to allow a public review process before our history is destroyed. We, as a city, need to grow consciously with intent and a vision of how we want our beautiful city to look in 20 years. There is the 2030 Plan which has very laudable goals, but the details on how we fulfill that plan need to be carefully considered and consistent. I have lived in large cities (Seattle and Washington D.C.) and I do not want Fayetteville to be “homogenized” to look like every other American city. I want to fight to keep it “funky”, unique and charming. Aren’t these the characteristics that make it attractive to folks who choose to live in Fayetteville?
I also decided to run because this city that likes to think of itself as very “green” and has become the first city in Arkansas to pledge to use 100% renewable energy by the local government, but we can expand our vision and do much, much better by borrowing ideas that have worked in other cities such as incentivizing citizens and businesses to use renewable resources and changing our habits to reduce our waste, especially plastic.
Is there anything in particular that drove you to reside in Ward 4? How would you describe that part of town?
When I was an undergraduate and later in grad school, I lived in an old house with great bones on Halsell Road. I loved the neighborhood. It was easy walking distance to class and I could hike the trails on Markham Hill. I felt I had the best of all worlds, close to the UA, close to nature, and in a beautiful neighborhood. When I started looking to purchase a house in 2011, I toured all over town but decided that I still liked University Heights and Ward 4 the most. In fisheries we call this “returning to your natal stream”. I felt at home in Ward 4, just 25 years of change later.
Are there any recent council decisions you agree or disagree with?
Recently the council voted to approve a rezoning change from an RSF-4 to Neighborhood Conservation at 1760 N. Walnut St. I disagree with this change because it is creating “spot zoning” where the neighborhood is zoned RSF-4. In addition, the property is located on a very steep slope and the road is a narrow and acts as a “high volume east west connection”. The rezoning allows the property owner to divide the lot into three building lots instead of the one house that is currently present. Storm run-off is already an issue in this area and the rezoning will compound this problem. Due to the steepness of the slope, storm run-off problems, the spot zoning in a well-established neighborhood and the safety concerns by adding additional driveways and congestion, I would have voted against this change if I had been on the City Council.