guest commentary by Mike Lorenz, Fort Smith City Director-elect, Ward 3
It was only two days after the election when The City Wire asked me to write a guest commentary. I quickly agreed, thinking December was a long time away, but it seems like I turned around and here we are in mid-December and in two more weeks I will be sworn in as Fort Smith as City Director of Ward 3.
This past year has been an exciting one for my family and the months of hard work and little sleep will pay off when I officially take office. I know this would not be possible without the help of many people, most importantly my family and the voters of Ward 3 for placing their trust in me as their representative in city government. It is quite a humbling experience to be elected by a strong margin to serve your fellow citizens. I appreciate this opportunity to take a few hundred words to let you get to know me a little better.
First, I would like to assure you that I will work diligently to make the best decision on every issue and always consider what is best for the citizens of Fort Smith as a whole. Many times it is easy to get the feeling that a small group of outspoken citizens have the best answer, but if we are honest with ourselves we can all agree that is not the best way to make decisions that affect all citizens.
After spending the past six years as president of the Fianna Property Owners Association and nearly as long on the Fort Smith Planning Commission, I have had to make many such decisions when addressing property issues, zoning issues and development projects.
Every decision I make as a director will impact the daily lives of at least some citizens and not everyone will agree with all of those decisions, but I encourage all citizens to contact me when you disagree with one of my decisions and let me explain the thoughts behind the decision. Even if you don’t agree with the way I vote on an issue, please consider that the next vote it’s likely that we might agree.
Also, the cost/benefit of every decision will be a strong factor in any decision I make as most all decisions made by the board have a cost associated with them at some point. I am always open to listen to ideas and suggestions from any of you.
One of the issues that I will focus on in the next four years is to make it easier for new development to occur in Fort Smith and especially to the downtown area. This is something that has been talked about and discussed for years with some opportunities that have been missed along the way. As a director, I will do everything possible to promote development downtown while doing my best to eliminate any roadblocks and fast track any positive growth downtown.
There has been much reporting on the re-birth of downtown areas with people wanting to live, work and play in a much smaller area to reduce commuting time and costs. We have a great opportunity to take advantage of this with the unique addition of a downtown with a riverfront.
The city has already taken steps to encourage development on the riverfront and the board must do everything in its power to continue this positive step. I understand that as a director we do not have the direct ability to make development happen or to find a tenant for the Whirlpool building, but we can work to create a business and development friendly city in order to encourage development.
The primary message I want the readers to take from this article is that all seven board members ran for this office for the same reason. That reason is to give their talent and time to help move our city forward. Each of us bring talents and experiences to the table and I feel we have a great variety of such experiences as the board takes office in January.
The board will not always agree with each other and I don’t think anyone, citizen or director, would think that continual unanimous votes to be a good thing. Whether you agree with the prevailing or opposing side of any vote, we must all treat each other with respect and kindness in order to make a positive impression on the population of Fort Smith and especially on companies or people looking to move into our city.
Serving the citizens of Fort Smith for the next four years will be an honor and a privilege. We have a bright future ahead of us and I am prepared to invest the necessary time and energy to make that future a reality we can all enjoy.