Contested races emerge for Fort Smith city director elections

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 252 views 

It didn’t take long for two of the four Fort Smith city director races to be contested. Or possibly contested. Robyn Dawson submitted a packet for the Ward 4 seat to run against incumbent George Catsavis, and Bruce Wade plans to run for the Ward 2 seat against incumbent André Good.

Directors Catsavis and Good have said they plan to run for another four-year term on the city board. Catsavis also on Wednesday filed his packet with the Fort Smith City Clerk’s office. No person is an official candidate until the clerk’s office verifies their eligibility. Qualified candidates must be 21, have lived in the city for six months, be registered to vote in the ward, and must submit a petition with at least 50 valid signatures of registered city voters.

The filing period began Wednesday (May 11), and ends at noon on May 26.

The city’s four ward positions are up for election in 2016. The three at-large positions, also four-year terms, will be on the ballot in 2018. For positions with more than two candidates, a primary election is set for Aug. 9. The general election is Nov. 8.

Dawson, 52, is the principal at Spradling Elementary School in Fort Smith. She was hired in that role in 2011. She began teaching in Fort Smith in 2002, and was hired as a principal in the Dover Public School system in 2007. She then became a principal in the Mena Public School system in 2009.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Arkansas Tech University and a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas. She and her husband Steve have two children.

“It’s an exciting time to be a resident of Fort Smith. Everyday, we’re seeing more and more examples of progress and moving this community forward,” Dawson said in a statement. “But I also see so many opportunities to make things better. I interact with local families daily who want accountability and transparency from our city leadership. As someone who has spent my career working with concerned parents and other school administrators, I have no doubt that I could help make a difference.”

Wade, 63, is a retired business owner from Houston. He moved to Fort Smith in 2002, and is running because “not only does the city need to be informed about the ward, but the ward needs to be better informed about the city.”

Wade declined to provide specific issues on which he will focus, telling Talk Business & Politics that he is investigating several issues and does not yet “want to step out there on hearsay,” with some of his ideas. He did say the city is not living up to its potential.

“We are not where we should be as the second largest city in Arkansas. We’re not where we need to be economically,” Wade said. “We have long way yet to go. … The only way we’re going to get somewhere is to get down in the trenches … trying to get problems solved, to get things moved.”

Director Keith Lau has said he will seek re-election to the Ward 1 seat, and Director Mike Lorenz has said he will run again for the Ward 2 seat. Both directors are in their first term.