Unity cited as coun­cil’s goal

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

Three men are run­ning for City Coun­cil; one is un­op­posed.

Cody Keene, can­di­date for Ward 2, Po­si­tion 2, faces no op­po­si­tion as in­cum­bent Lance San­ders, who ini­tially filed for re-elec­tion, has with­drawn from the elec­tion. His name will still be on the bal­lot.

In­cum­bent Bob Cot­ting­ham and Matt Ahart, are both seek­ing the Ward 1, Po­si­tion 2 seat. Coun­cil elec­tions are voted upon city wide.

Ques­tion: Are there any par­tic­u­lar goals you would like for the city to ac­com­plish?

Cot­ting­ham: “To have a real strong uni­fied City Coun­cil and mayor and work a lit­tle more to­wards fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity. To be very ap­proach­able to the peo­ple.”

Ahart: “Pull ev­ery­body to­gether as a team … con­tinue to grow PRMBA (Pea Ride Man­u­fac­tur­ing and Busi­ness Academy) — it’s es­sen­tial for eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and to in­vest in our young peo­ple. My goal is to help ed­u­cate them as best pos­si­ble.”

Keene: “There is a bunch of un­tapped po­ten­tial and our history is de­te­ri­o­rat­ing rapidly. It’s here. It can be re­vi­tal­ized, made new. I would like to gen­er­ate some busi­nesses that want to come to town, redo these build­ings down­town here.”

Ques­tion: How would you vote on an is­sue on which your con­stituents have strong opin­ions but are in op­po­si­tion to what you be­lieve to be in the city’s best in­ter­est?

Ahart: “It prob­a­bly just de­pends on the is­sue — the weight and clar­ity of the is­sue and what we’re deal­ing with, the ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple and how they felt. I would do my best to make the best de­ci­sion and stand by it. The worst thing you can do is not make a de­ci­sion.”

Cot­ting­ham: “I have been there and done that. Over­whelm­ingly, I was out­voted. I voted with the ma­jor­ity, I re­ceived many phone calls that they didn’t want this is­sue.

I felt my re­spon­si­bil­ity was to the ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple.”

Keene: “We need to re­mem­ber who we work for, who we rep­re­sent. If it’s not what they want, then we have to make sure we fol­low the city’s lead. Our cit­i­zens will al­ways be­lieve they knew what’s in their best in­ter­est.”

Ques­tion: Ac­cord­ing to North­west Arkansas Re­gional Plan­ning, Pea Ridge is the only city of the first class in Arkansas with only two wards and four coun­cil mem­bers. The city could ex­pand the num­ber of wards and coun­cil seats if it chooses. What’s your opin­ion?

Cot­ting­ham: “I have been a pro­po­nent of that from day one. It was ini­tially brought to the sur­face in 2010 and on two more oc­ca­sions. I feel very strongly we need more rep­re­sen­ta­tion. I feel like it’s nec­es­sary … I think our cur­rent mayor has got­ten it ready for 2020. I feel like it should have been ad­dressed ear­lier.”

Ahart: “It’ll come when­ever the time is right. I’ve vis­ited with some of the cur­rent city of­fi­cials on an an­nex­a­tion. If that comes as planned, it could be in the scope. I’m for what­ever the peo­ple are telling us. It’ll hap­pen when­ever the time is right.”

Keene: “I be­lieve it can be done … it’s just more voices of the cit­i­zens to al­low the city to thrive. I’ve for it and I’ve been for it.”

•••

Edi­tor’s note: This is the se­cond of a two-part se­ries on the can­di­dates for Pea Ridge City Coun­cil mem­ber.

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