Sonia Gutierrez (left) and Olivia Trimble (right)
Educator Sonia Gutierrez will face artist Olivia Trimble in a runoff election on Dec. 4 to determine the winner of the Ward 1, Position 1 seat up for grabs on the Fayetteville City Council.
Both women hope to replace Adella Gray, who was first elected in 2006 and is the council’s longest active member. Gray did not seek a fourth term in the Nov. 6 election.
Gutierrez received 2,303 votes (41%), while Trimble took 2,220 votes (39%). A third candidate, Kris Paxton, received 1,132 votes (20%).
In Arkansas, when there are more than two candidates, if a single candidate doesn’t secure over 50 percent of the votes, the two people with the most votes go to a runoff election four weeks later unless the leading candidate receives more than 40 percent of the votes and is ahead of the runner-up by 20 percent.
Ward 1 candidate forum
Each Ward 1 candidate participated in an hour-long forum held Sept. 4 at the Fayetteville Public Library.
Gutierrez, 43, ran for the same City Council seat in 2014 alongside Gray and Paul Phaneuf, but did not receive enough votes to advance to the runoff election.
She announced her campaign at the Women’s March on the steps of the Town Center building in downtown Fayetteville earlier this year.
Gutierrez said the recent national political climate led her to run again, and cited a need for more women in roles of leadership.
If elected, she said she’ll push issues that attract businesses of all sizes, while also balancing support for local entrepreneurs. She said she’ll work from the top down to increase inclusivity for people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities, and income levels. She said while the city should encourage new development, it’s important to ensure anything new complements the surrounding character and maintains “the existing vibe.”
Gutierrez said she’s excited about the recent push for an arts and culture district in south Fayetteville.
“We know that a thriving arts district in turn will attract all business to the area to feed, house, and entertain all who work, visit, and live in the area,” she said.
Trimble, 32, is known locally as a sign painter whose work includes the Experience Fayetteville logo on the back side of the Visitors Center building on the downtown square, the 400-square-foot Uptown Quilt mural at Uptown Apartments in north Fayetteville, and the Favoriteville painting outside Smoke and Barrel Tavern off Dickson Street.
She received national attention for her Repaint Hate campaign which replaced racist graffiti with hopeful messages following the 2016 election. The initiative brought together a network of activists and artists to cover up hateful graffiti across the country.
Trimble is also active as a community organizer and has helped with several local events, including the Women’s March in Fayetteville and the Wampus Wonderland holiday art show. She has given a local TED Talk and Pechu Kucha presentation about her art and activism, and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art invited her to display her work as part of its American Made exhibition.
She was an advocate for changes to the Fayetteville Housing Authority’s five-year plan, which was updated after she and many other residents demanded a closer look at the organization’s decision to sell Willow Heights and move its residents to Morgan Manor.
Ward 1 encompasses south and southeast Fayetteville, including the areas south of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Huntsville Road. Mount Sequoyah, Happy Hollow Elementary, and Ramay Junior High School are also included in Ward 1.
City Council members are paid $12,504 per year.