Unity cited as council’s goal
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for Ward 2, Position 2, faces no opposition as incumbent Lance Sanders, who initially filed for re-election, has withdrawn from the election.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.