Kristen Scott / Courtesy photo
A lifelong educator and 35-year resident of Fayetteville wants to put her problem-solving skills to use on the City Council.
Kristen Scott, 53, is one of three candidates who hope to fill the open Ward 2, Position 2 seat which was recently vacated by Matthew Petty.
Scott currently works as an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas in Fort Smith. She’s had many other education roles, including principal at Root Elementary School and Owl Creek School. She’s also held teaching jobs at McNair Middle School in Fayetteville and at schools in West Fork and Rogers.
Meet the Candidates
The following candidates are running for the open Ward 2 seat in the Feb. 8 special election. All candidates were sent a request for more information about their candidacy. Responses are posted in alphabetical order.
Scott said her three decades of experience in education will serve her well if elected.
“Educators are problems solvers, and it is what we are trained to do,” said Scott. “We use data as a flashlight, ask questions, collaborate with stakeholders and parents, and never give up because the stakes are so high.”
Scott said another strength she’ll bring to the council is budget management, by leveraging her experience in oversight and compliance management of state and federal budgets as a six-year administrator for Fayetteville Public Schools.
She said beefing up the city’s relationship with the School District, focusing on economic development, and supporting policies that advance attainable housing would all be highlights of her work on the council, if elected.
Scott also served three years on the Fayetteville Housing Authority board – including two years as chair – which she said gives her familiarity with how city government works.
“In my role as chair of FHA from 2019 through June 2021, I have learned city governance processes and procedures, working as a board member and leading FHA through establishing and strengthening its own governances,” Scott wrote in a recent letter to the council.
Scott resigned from the housing board in November to focus on her teaching work and her upcoming campaign.
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.
Filing for the election ended Nov. 29. The special election is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 8.
Profile: Kristen Scott
Position sought: Ward 2, Position 2
Residency: Lived in Fayetteville 35 years
Employment: Assistant Professor, School of Education, University of Arkansas – Fort Smith
Education: Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction, Ed.S. in Curriculum & Instruction, M.Ed. in Secondary Education, BA in English Literature, all at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville
Political Experience: Commissioner, Fayetteville Housing Authority 2018-2021
Questions for Kristen
What made you decide to seek election to the council? Is it something you’ve been considering for a while?
I am running for City Council to focus on local problem solving and quality of life within our city. Fayetteville has been my home for 35 years because we have pride in local community, embrace diversity and commitment to innovation. Fayetteville has a proud heritage of doing what is right. I am a mother and grandmother, and I want to see our city embrace progressive thinking with clear priorities maintain our Fayetteville values. I want to see future generations continue to choose Fayetteville because of what is added to their quality of life when they make a home in our community.
Is there anything in particular that drove you to reside in Ward 2? How would you describe that part of town?
There is so much to love about Ward 2 – walkability, many local businesses where they know your name and your “usual order,” venues with live music, beautiful outdoor gathering spaces, Ozark Natural Foods, pet-friendly patios, and a new personal favorite on Dickson Street, PLOMO Quesadillas! Our neighborhoods in Ward 2 are diverse, and I am drawn to that. Our part of town is where history and progress often collide. This could be a challenge or a new opportunity for us to come together around common goals and make plans for how we will grow.
Which recent council decision(s) do you agree or disagree with?
The conversations I have had with residents and merchants in Ward 2 capture both the great things we love about our city and also the challenges which need our focus. We are proud to see in the news:
- Best Places to Live in the U.S. top ten, US News & World Report, 2016-2021 (Number 4 in 2021)
- Number 6, Bicycle Friendly Businesses, People for Bikes, 2021
- 15 Cities Where Business is Booming and Salaries are Rising, CNBC Make It, 2019
- Tree City USA, Arbor Day Foundation, 26 Years
Unfortunately, there are now businesses which are no longer open since Covid, and neighbors who have been forced to move out of Fayetteville because of skyrocketing costs to rent or buy here. Economic development and attainable housing are part of the city’s 2040 Plan, and concrete steps must be taken for these priorities to become reality. I agree with the development of the city’s Board of Health and the support the city gave to businesses and the community during Covid, including providing masks and expanding the outdoor entertainment district to allow dining and refreshment sales to resume safely with social distancing.
The recently adopted 2022 Annual Budget & Work Program reflects $56 million dollars in proposed budget for the general fund. I think more information is needed to make clear and transparent how the city weaves together the general revenue fund, grants, infrastructure bond funds of 2019 and other funding streams to meet public needs, city goals and the longer-term objectives of the 2040 Plan. I hear concerns from residents about our streets, traffic, and confusion about continued spending on trails and green spaces when we have those infrastructure issues which need attention.
My goals are to keep citizens informed and to listen. I am eager to balance the current City Council with my experience as a lifelong educator. Educators are problems solvers, and it is what we are trained to do. We use data as a flashlight, ask questions, collaborate with stakeholders and parents, and never give up because the stakes are so high. This is the same passion and commitment which I will bring to City Council representing Ward 2.