Crab­tree, Wall dif­fer on is­sues

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - FRONT PAGE - AN­NETTE BEARD abeard@nwadg.com

Stand­ing on his foun­da­tion of nearly a quar­ter of a cen­tury of ex­pe­ri­ence, Mayor Jackie Crab­tree said he’s proud of where the city has come in the past 24 years since he’s been mayor. He praised city em­ploy­ees and said the com­mu­nity and city em­ploy­ees are all part of the suc­cess.

“Pea Ridge is a unique place, a place where you can feel like you’re fam­ily. My door and my of­fice is al­ways open. I’ve as­sem­bled a team of quite ca­pa­ble in­di­vid­u­als,” he said. “We work very well with the school sys­tem. We have a unique build­ing that’s the only one in Arkansas be­cause of co­op­er­a­tion with the school sys­tem.”

“Like Bright Fu­tures, PRMBA, City Hall — first of its kind in the state of Arkansas,” he said. “We have plans. We have mas­ter street plans. It all comes down to fund­ing.

“We’re work­ing on a bike park … there are a mul­ti­tude of things. This is not some­thing I’ve done by my­self, it’s what we have done as a com­mu­nity. It has to be done as a team,” Crab­tree said

Mechel Wall said vi­sion is es­sen­tial and it takes vi­sion and said she has the abil­ity to bring peo­ple to­gether from dif­fer­ent back­grounds to work to­gether. She said she wants ac­count­abil­ity to the of­fice, com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the tax­pay­ers and to make sure in­for­ma­tion is avail­able to them. Cit­ing her found­ing of the Ben­ton County School of the Arts which, she said has be­come one of the best schools in the state, she said she has the ex­pe­ri­ence and vi­sion needed for the job.

“Some may think this elec­tion is about pop­u­lar­ity. It’s not about who you know or if you grew up here. It’s about the fu­ture of our chil­dren,” Wall said. “There is some very real con­cern … the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­sponse is we don’t have money.”

Wall said that Pea Ridge spends far more on salaries than sim­i­lar sized ci­ties. “That can­not be sus­tained on the backs of an ag­ing pop­u­la­tion,” she said.

Ques­tion: What can and should the mayor do to work with the State High­way Depart­ment of­fi­cials to im­prove the state high­ways that run through Pea Ridge?

Crab­tree: “Stay in con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the High­way Depart­ment … for ex­am­ple, the four-way stop down­town by Ar­vest Bank, if you put a stop­light there and don’t put in a turn lane, you’ll have a worse sit­u­a­tion.”

Wall: “To pro­vide a mas­ter plan or work with lead­er­ship to pro­vide a mas­ter plan … hav­ing a mas­ter plan is key. If you have to get in line for state funds, you have to know what it is you are try­ing to ac­com­plish.”

•••

Ed­i­tor’s note: This is the first of a two-part se­ries on the can­di­dates for mayor of Pea Ridge.

TIMES pho­to­graph by An­nette Beard

Mayor Jackie Crab­tree and may­oral can­di­date Mechel Wall fielded ques­tions about their vi­sions for Pea Ridge at a fo­rum Mon­day evening.

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