Flooding, philosophy discussed at Jonesboro City Council candidate forum

by Michael Wilkey ([email protected]) 393 views 

Bobby Long and Richard Wang fielded questions Wednesday (May 25) during the Jonesboro Kiwanis Club meeting. Long and Wang were the top two finishers in the May 10 special election for a vacant Jonesboro City Council position.

The two candidates will face off in a June 7 runoff, with early voting starting May 31 at the Craighead County Election Annex on Jefferson Avenue in Jonesboro. Wang, an Arkansas State University political science professor, received 32% of her vote while Long, a human resources director for Cavenaugh Auto Group, received 27%. Three other candidates split the remaining votes.

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Both candidates spent the nearly hour long forum talking about their views and how they would approach issues, if elected June 7.

“I want you to know which one of us represents your values,” Long said, noting he believes the decision is a real choice between two different views of how “government should work.”

Wang said he has been encouraged about the interest in the race. Wang said his experience in life has prepared him for the office.

“I have been amazed by the growth of Jonesboro,” Wang said, noting he wants to work on improving city parks and infrastructure in the city.

The candidates were asked about recent flooding and the impact that recent growth has had on drainage issues. According to published reports, the city received about six inches of rain Tuesday afternoon. The rains dumped water at several city intersections, flooding Caraway Road, Highland Drive, Nettleton Avenue and Red Wolf Boulevard.

Wang said the area near his home was a “lake” by 4:30 p.m. Wang said he would look at infrastructure issues and discuss with others an idea of possibly enacting impact fees on businesses looking to build, similar to what has been done in Fayetteville. However, Wang said the impact fee is a tough issue and it is not a panacea in solving the issue.

Long said the rain on Tuesday would impact any system, noting Craighead County officials should work on cleaning out culverts in which water can flow out of the city and into the county.

On police and fire salaries, Wang said he supports police and fire “in all they do” and said the salary issue involved starting salaries and “step” pay in paying officers and firefighters with experience.

Long said his brother-in-law is a Jonesboro firefighter. He said his experience as a HR director has provided him with expertise on the issue.

“We cannot just put a band aid on the salary issue,” Long said, noting he would like to look at the overall salary issue to look at ways to fund the issue.

Long said he would look at infrastructure issues, having good equipment and using a business approach in running city government. Wang said he took a different view, saying cities can do things well. He also said he supports “balanced” growth between business and residents, as well as projects done by groups in downtown Jonesboro.

The winner in Ward 6, Position 1 will replace Tim McCall, who resigned earlier this year after moving out of the ward.