Green Forest candidates discuss visions for future
GREEN FOREST -- Candidates for city offices gathered Wednesday evening at the Green Forest Public Library to discuss their hopes for the city's future.
Mayor Charlie Reece, who is unopposed, was traveling and could not attend. Pam Norton and Tony Rocole, alderman candidates for Ward 2, Position 2, did not attend, although Norton submitted a statement.
All the other candidates attended, including Alderman Willa Kerby, who is unopposed for Ward 1, Position 1.
Library Director Johnice Dominick gave each candidate an opportunity to make an introductory statement. She then asked the candidates why they were running for city offices. Finally, questions were taken from the audience.
Summer Fultz is challenging incumbent Janell Compton.
Fultz said she would work to increase community involvement, and she would hope to see the city perceived in a more positive manner. She pledged an "efficient, productive, no-nonsense" approach to council meetings.
Compton emphasized her experience in the position, and said she is dedicated to Green Forest becoming a better city. She said a community effort is needed to attract new businesses and make the city more profitable.
Ward 1, Position 2
Nestor Rivera is challenging incumbent Mike Miller.
Rivera currently serves on the planning commission. He said he came to Green Forest 15 years ago, and saw the community as a good place for his children to grow and succeed in life. "We see better things in the future," he said.
Miller has been on the council for nine years, and said, "I'm here to try to get the city on a better path." He said city government needs to work more closely with the chamber of commerce to attract new businesses.
Ward 2, Position 1
Joe Pierce and Bill Niven are candidates for the seat currently held by David Garrett, who did not seek re-election.
Pierce said, "I don't want us to be a joke on the front page of the newspaper." He spoke strongly about the half-million dollars spent on engineering for a wastewater plant upgrade, a project which the city now considers unnecessary. He said he believes in the mayor, and wants to help him.
Niven also hoped to be able to help the mayor move forward with his plans. He remembered coming to Green Forest as a youth, when the city had a theater, pharmacy, and other amenities. "More than anything, we need to make this a desirable place to live," he said. "Our image needs to be improved."
Ward 2, Position 2
Norton is challenging incumbent Rocole.
In her written statement, Norton said work prevented her from attending the 5 p.m. forum. She said she is running because Green Forest needs business-minded citizens. She also emphasized the need for continued beautification efforts.
Miller responded to a question about the half-million in engineering fees. He said the aldermen were told by wastewater plant staff that they could not continue to meet effluent standards effectively without a major upgrade.
Miller said council acted on the information they had at the time, and said the city cannot operate without the wastewater plant. "I voted for what I thought was right for the city," he said.
In response to a question about trash around the city, Kerby mentioned the city-wide clean-up and litter patrol scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 6. "We all need to be part of the solution," she said. She also noted the council will soon have new ordinances in place to give the city more power to enforce property maintenance, and the mayor is planning to add a code enforcement officer.