Retired airline pilot Peter Tonnessen is running for Fayetteville City Council this year.
Tonnessen, 69, hopes to take the Ward 3, Position 2 seat currently held by Sarah Bunch, who is running for re-election.
Tonnessen, who grew up in New York City, said Fayetteville has the best people of any place he’s ever lived, but the most dishonest city government.
He called the administration “City Hall Socialists” and said the current leaders have a selfish agenda that caters to a downtown “effete elite” instead of the majority of residents who live in suburban areas.
Tonnessen said he strongly disagrees with numerous decisions that the City Council has made in recent years, including votes calling for special elections, consulting contracts, and last month’s resolution declaring racism a public health emergency.
He also criticized investments in public transportation and the arts, including Ozark Regional Transit, TheatreSquared and the upcoming Cultural Arts Corridor project.
“Stop wasting tens of millions of tax dollars trying to turn Fayette-chill into Artsy-Fartsyville,” he said.
Tonnessen said he thinks the city’s help in expanding the Fayetteville Public Library will only attract more poverty, and called the recently expanded facility a “homeless shelter, soup kitchen and indoctrination center masquerading as part of a ‘library.'”
He said council members’ criticism of the initial construction designs for a new police headquarters are off base and have delayed an important, voter-approved project.
“Fayetteville’s voters need to stop the drifty psycho-babble about ‘superb walkability’ and ‘bike trails’ and ‘warmth’ and ‘inclusiveness,'” he said. “Police stations do not need to be ‘warm and inviting’ – in fact, they work better when they’re not ‘warm and inviting’ – so just build it!”
Ward 3 includes several neighborhoods in northeast Fayetteville, including the Huntingdon and Candlewood subdivisions, as well as the newer multi-family complexes in the uptown area. Gulley Park, Fiesta Square, Lake Fayetteville, and the Northwest Arkansas Mall are also in Ward 3.
The election is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Profile: Peter Tonnessen
Position sought: Ward 3, Position 2
Residency: In Ward 3, seven years since October 2013; in Fayetteville, nine years since June 2011
Employment: Retired airline pilot
Education: BA, Echols Scholar, University of Virginia, 1973; JD, Georgetown University Law Center, 1976
Political Experience: None
Meet the Candidates
The following candidates are running for election this year. All candidates were sent a request for more information about their candidacy. Responses are posted in the order they’re received.
What made you decide to seek election to the council? Is it something you’ve been considering for a while?
Yes, I have been considering this for a while.
Fayetteville (and Northwest Arkansas in general) has the BEST people – warm, friendly, accomplished but humble, and gentle – but it has the most dishonest City government under which I have ever lived … and I grew up in New York City.
The majority of voters reside in single-family suburban homes, which the City Hall Socialists hate and openly disparage. City Hall regularly disenfranchises that majority of suburban taxpayers, and then has the nerve to spend their tax dollars promoting the selfish agenda of an Effete Elite downtown. Fayetteville’s City Hall is sneaky and anti-democratic.
American government is supposed to be based on democracy. Democracy can succeed only where there’s integrity and real honesty: The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
That is what Fayetteville City Hall needs: Integrity and honesty — and adult supervision – for a change.
Is there anything in particular that drove you to reside in Ward 3? How would you describe that part of town?
The first two years in Fayetteville I lived in an apartment south of the University. Life felt more hectic, which is understandable since college-age people have a lot of energy and a lot going on.
I was attracted to Ward 3 because of its proximity to the bike trail and because of the suburban nature of the three developments — Stonewood / Copper Creek / Embry Acres – that comprise this neighborhood. Our house in this neighborhood is close to a broad range of services, but quiet. This part of town is suburban and peaceful.
Which recent council decision(s) do you agree or disagree with?
I strongly disagree with numerous decisions of the City Council, including (without limitation):
- Special Elections: Special Elections disenfranchise 90% of Fayetteville’s registered voters when deciding questions of large expenditures, huge long-term debt, or significant policy issues. This calculated abuse has got to be stopped. All those matters should be decided by a majority of voters in general elections based on simple, straight-forward referenda issues.
- Police Headquarters: The failure to approve the experts’ plans for Police Headquarters NOW is disgraceful. The Headquarters should be built exactly as designed by Chief Reynolds, his staff, and the expert architects, without delay. The City Council sent this long-overdue project to the Transportation Committee where it has been delayed by four anti-cop know-nothings while the design is being nitpicked by Socialist nitwits. After the brutal assassination of Officer Stephen Carr last December, it should be clear to anyone with minimal intellect that the singularly important issue is security. Delay is wasting from $84,000 to $140,000 every month and jeopardizing the entire project. Fayetteville’s voters need to STOP the drifty psycho-babble about “superb walkability” and “bike trails” and “warmth” and “inclusiveness.” Police stations do not need to be “warm and inviting” – in fact, they work better when they’re NOT “warm and inviting” — so just BUILD IT!
- Deficit budgets: This past December the City Council passed a budget with a deficit, even before Covid-19. The City needs to balance its budget. The Socialist members of the City Council are going to spend Fayetteville into Fayenzuela.
- Budget deficits (aka Covid non-response): This past Tuesday, September 15, the City Council simply re-enacted the same millage levy (totaling 6.8%) for property taxes next year even though they ”suspect (sic) a revenue decline” next year. In fact, revenue declines are inevitable and already evident. The City Council did not even consider making budget cuts. On the contrary, they approved spending $90,000 to design signs for the Arts Corridor. Not make signs, just design them. “Designing” signs is something that any sensible person already on the City’s payroll could do in an afternoon. Instead, City Hall is turning this into a federal case and spending almost a tenth of a Million dollars on it. To actually produce signs for Artsy-Fartsyville will cost taxpayers a whole lot more. The City Council continues to spend money like crazy while dishonestly ducking the issue of tax increases (vs. budget cuts) until after the November election. Note: More than half of our property tax (3.7%) goes for the Library-That-Is-Not-A-Library (which was insolvent even before they almost doubled its size). The amount of property taxes spent just on the Library is 54% more than the amount dedicated to General Fund Operations (2.3%) for the entire City.
- Restore normal (Euclidean) zoning: STOP abusing a corrupted version of “Form-Based Code” to force urbanization — including forced “infill development” — on Fayetteville’s homeowners. STOP ATTACKING SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOODS!
- STOP the anti-automobile agenda. Build good streets. The City’s Energy Action Plan reported that per capita CO2 emissions DROPPED 11% from 2010 to 2016. Fayetteville has only 1/100,000th of the world’s population. The notion that our automobiles drive Global Warming while 1.4 Billion Red Chinese continue to build 300 new coal-fired power plants is idiotic. Also, bike paths are fine where they fit but taking on the expense of maintaining U.S. 71B to build bike lanes was fiscally irresponsible.
- SAVE Fayette-chill: Stop wasting tens of millions of tax dollars trying to turn Fayette-chill into Artsy-Fartsyville.
- STOP the taxpayer-funded “Cultural Arts Corridor”: Stop wasting $20 million of tax dollars to rip up a perfectly good parking lot just to replace it with a perfectly ugly multi-level parking lot that blocks the Depot and Arsaga’s. Arts should be paid for by user fees and wealthy patrons, not by bond issues that barely passed in a contrived “Special” Election.
- STOP attracting poverty instead of promoting prosperity: The “Library Extension” is nothing more than a gigantic, almost $50 Million homeless shelter, soup kitchen and indoctrination center masquerading as part of a “Library”.
- STOP the-$3 Million in under-the-table subsidy payments to TheatreSquared.
- STOP wasting millions of dollars on “consulting” contracts, which are little more than bribes to “experts” who just agree with whatever City Hall wants to do anyway.
- STOP wasting millions of dollars on Ozark Regional Transit. Massive investments in mass transportation are premature. Ridership averages about 6 people in buses built for 30 to 60 passengers. Fayetteville is not New York City and hopefully never will be. Fayetteville pays Ozark Regional Transit $532,228, more than any other city and second most per capita. Fayetteville also pays fare subsidies that are almost twice as high as any other city. ORT’s ridership was declining two years in a row two years ago, which is shown in the last graph they published. The latest report of Operating Statistics that I can find on ORT’s website dates back to July 2018.
- PRIORITIZE the core functions of city government: Police, fire, water, sewer, sanitation, streets and, if money is left over, parks.
- Repeal the Resolution that “Racism is a ‘Public Health (sic) Crisis’”: This admitted “green light” for spending tax dollars is nothing more than “racial reparations” disguised as a medical emergency. The timing of this Resolution– coming two months before a general election – is no coincidence. This was a payoff — using every citizen’s tax dollars — to a core constituency of the Democrat Party.