story by Aric Mitchell
The Fort Smith Board of Directors welcomed one new member and saved a seat for one of its own Tuesday night (Nov. 6) during the General Election, while voters overwhelmingly approved citywide trash automation.
City Director George Catsavis and candidate Mike Lorenz captured the two seats with victories against John Cooley and Matt Garner, respectively.
Catsavis had a tougher time with Cooley, who came within 70 votes of unseating the incumbent. Final vote tallies showed 4,530 votes for Catsavis (50.38%) and 4,461 votes for Cooley (49.62%).
Lorenz earned a bit more support with 3,986 votes (55.95%) to 3,138 for Garner (44.05%).
“Incredible,” Catsavis said. “I don’t know what else to say. I expected it to be close because they pumped so much resources into it. I was outspent three to one. Outmanned. But people kept saying to me, ‘Hang in there and don’t give up,’ and that’s what I did.”
Lorenz described his victory as “exciting.”
“I’m glad to see that many people put their trust in me to take that next step and do the job for them. I’ve really had a good day. I spent a lot of time at the polling places. We had volunteers at each place meeting and greeting people. I felt good going into tonight, and it came out the way I wanted it to,” Lorenz said.
Lorenz said the “first thing” he wanted to look in to changing were “some of the roadblocks to doing business here.” He also wants to “try to mesh the board better and fix some of the fragmentation that’s there.”
“We’ve all got to work together, and if we do, we can do good things,” Lorenz added.
Cooley was not available for comment on the losing side, but Garner said that he wanted to congratulate Lorenz.
“Second, I am very proud of the campaign we ran. With the resources we had, I think we did awesome. We ran a campaign that cost less than a quarter of one of the Ward 4 campaigns. Being fiscally responsible and living within budget is all something we can appreciate.”
On the automated trash initiative, the vote wasn’t even close.
Those for the initiative championed by petitioner Joel Culberson to move the entire city of Fort Smith to curbside automated showed up in droves, casting more than 20,000 votes in favor.
“I’m pleased to be a part of a citizen initiated matter. It’s a reminder of how one person can make a difference and of how we can come together for a common good,”
Culberson said. “I appreciate the receptiveness of voters to the issue and look forward to seeing the automated trash issue finalized and automated collection throughout the city becoming a reality.”
Out of 25,791 votes cast, only 5,261 were in opposition.
GREENWOOD AND VAN BUREN
Also Tuesday night, Craig Hamilton and Lee Johnson claimed spots on the Greenwood City Council with more than 1,700 votes each.
Hamilton earned 1,742 votes to 1,521 for opponent Rod Powell.
Johnson was victorious with 1,740 votes against 1,596 for opponent Robert B. Hicks.
In the race for Greenwood City Clerk and Treasurer, Sharla Spoon captured 2,318 votes (68%) to defeat candidate Elysa Turner, who earned just 31% of the vote with 1,052 votes.
As of 1:30 a.m., no results had been reported from Crawford County for the Van Buren City Council races.