Weber will not seek return to Fort Smith Board of Directors

story by Ryan Saylor

City Director Pam Weber has decided to not seek re-election to her position 5 at-large seat on the Fort Smith Board of Directors, she confirmed Friday (May 16).

Weber, who began her term on the Board in 2011, said the decision to not run was made with input from her family.

"That was a difficult decision because I have absolutely loved being a city director. There has been no greater honor in my public service career than serving the city of Fort Smith," she said. "But for me and my family, I feel like right now is not the time to seek re-election."

Weber said the process of making a decision involved looking "at what the next few years hold."

"As you know, I have a new grandbaby and a family business. It was a joint decision and after discussing with (my family) — I decided I would never leave my commitment to public service — but I felt it was the right time for a new person to step forward and take my position on the Board."

In discussing her decision, Weber reflected on the last three and a half years and pointed to the creation of a city beautification committee as one of the highlights of her time in elected office.

"I'm proud that Mayor (Sandy) Sanders has asked me to serve on that committee. Some of the things we've done that have been personally gratifying (include) the efforts underway on the I-540 interchanges," she said, mentioning landscaping and tree planting that has taken place at the intersection of Phoenix Avenue, Greenwood Road and I-540, as well as another project planned for I-540 and Rogers Avenue. "Those have been personally very gratifying for me."

Other projects have also ranked high in terms of accomplishments, she said, adding that she was pleased to have been a part of efforts to get sales tax issues passed for fire station improvements, funding for parks projects and funding for the Ben Geren Aquatics Center.

Among the most challenging issues Weber said he and the Board have faced during her time in office has been the budget, which has struggled with lower than expected sales tax revenues. But she said even during the difficult times that have come with the budget, the work has been personally fulfilling.

"The budget has been very challenging the last few years, but the staff and administration has done a good job of managing the difficulties. All of those have been extremely gratifying."

As for what her last six months of service on the Board hold, Weber said beautification efforts will continue to be her focus, as well as promoting Fort Smith.

"Obviously, I want to complete some of the beautification efforts I've started and work with citizens until the very last day. And I want to continue to talk about how wonderful Fort Smith is and (how happy I am to) call Fort Smith home."

Weber's position creates the second vacancy on the Board following City Director Philip Merry's announcement that he would not seek re-election to his position seven at-large seat on the Board. Former City Director Don Hutchings and Parks Commissioner Sherry Toliver have announced their intentions to run for Merry's seat.

As of Friday, the only candidates to have filed to run for Board positions were Sanders and Vice Mayor Kevin Settle, who holds the position six at-large director position. Both are seeking re-election to their respective positions.

The filing period for municipal Fort Smith offices runs from May 14 to Noon on May 29. An election will be held Aug. 12. If needed, a run-off election will be held Nov. 4.