McGill releases policy pledges for Fort Smith mayoral race

by Aric Mitchell ([email protected]) 1,020 views 

In a press release late Thursday (June 7), Rep. George McGill, D-Fort Smith, announced 11 “Policy Pledges” in his bid to be the next Fort Smith mayor. McGill faces opponents Luis Andrade, a University of Arkansas at Fort Smith student, and former Southside High School principal Wayne Haver in an Aug. 14 primary election.

“These Policy Pledges represent a monumental change from business-as-usual politics. It’s time for bold leadership to accelerate the hard-earned progress being made. These changes will improve the economy for everyone and I pledge to you that I will keep fighting until each of these items becomes a reality,” McGill said.

McGill said if elected, he will focus on engaging with state leaders on “issues and matters of importance to Fort Smith” as well as placing “a priority on Public Safety and Public Health needs.”

Commending the city’s working relationship with its military community, McGill said his administration would maintain “an outstanding relationship with the military to ensure an ongoing and dynamic presence in Fort Smith,” and that he also would “Strengthen ties with State Agencies and work to encourage the opening of more local agency branch offices.”

It will be a goal of McGill’s to support and enhance existing city financial review processes and create a citizen-led Oversight Committee “to make sure that Fort Smith is the most open, honest, and accountable city in Arkansas.” McGill believes it’s important to use a “business mindset” to highlight positive attributes of the city and “shine a light on areas requiring increased efficiency.” In that regard, he hopes to initiate a review process “to ensure that all major city contracts achieve the best possible result for the people of Fort Smith.”

On the Future Fort Smith Comprehensive Plan adopted in December 2014, McGill plans to continue the focus on implementation. He wants to be “a strong champion” for the plan’s vital contributors including the city’s school system, educational system, public and private, “as well as UAFS, ACHE, UAMS West, and Vista College.” On the major issue of the city’s estimated $480 million consent decree, McGill would use his “extensive, years-long federal relationships with the objective of securing relief” from the decree, particularly the “out-of-control sewer and water bills” it has caused. Sewer bills in Fort Smith have risen over 160%, on average, as a result of the decree.

McGill has supported this and other recent Board efforts to move the city forward stating, “The hard-earned progress of recent years can be built upon and improved or we can spend time casting blame and dwelling on past mistakes.”

McGill continued: “My campaign will be casting its eyes to the future and I’m looking forward to spending the next few months earning your votes and sharing my positive vision for Fort Smith.”

The other two candidates have yet to release policy pledges, but Talk Business & Politics will publish if and when received. McGill previously debated Andrade prior to Haver’s late entry into the race. For one candidate to be elected in August, he will need 50% or more of the vote. If no candidate can reach 50%, the top two candidates will face each other on the Nov. 6 ballot.